Like most optimistic individuals, you want to start off the new year with a somewhat promising resolution — to become more active. Overly confident, you narrow down your options and quickly realize you can only go to the gym to become more active. But then you realize, instead of buying expensive gym memberships, why not pick up a sport? You remember that you played tennis when you were younger. You decide to pick it up again. But where do you start?
You recently became a tennis coach after playing professionally for more than 20 years. You have a lot of technical skill, but not enough experience teaching to others. You know that many people need or want a private coach. So now, it is just a matter of meeting the right people and gaining experience little by little. Without strong connections like your competitors, how can you start to build a network of students and clients?
Introducing MyTennisLessons (MTL)
What: MyTennisLessons is the nation’s largest online marketplace for tennis instruction. MTL helps customers find and book tennis lessons with local qualified tennis coaches, and assists coaches in acquiring new clients.
Students visiting the site have the ability to purchase a package of lessons directly online. MTL also takes care of coaches’ office needs such as marketing, scheduling, billing, and customer service. MTL offers tennis enthusiasts, coaches and players alike, the flexibility to customize their own tennis-lesson experience.
Where: Austin, TX
When: January 2012
The Problem: The team behind MyTennisLessons shares their underlying problem and answers the question, why tennis?
“For tennis players there were no viable online resources for getting set up with a tennis instructor. You either had to belong to a tennis center, country club, or pay outrageous prices for a private coach. We wanted to offer affordable lessons, at a local public court with an instructor who truly matched a student’s skill set. We also found many tennis coaches, though they are professionals on the court, did not know how or have the time to capture an online client base. MyTennisLessons gives coaches free access to a supplemental service that ensures they are properly marketing and advertising themselves,” the company reports.
How Did MTL Start?
Four college students met at the University of Connecticut and founded MTL. The co-founders first worked out of a motel and now, are working in a cohesive 11-person team with downtown office space in Austin.
MTL explains how their team work developed over time:
“Like every other startup, everybody wore different hats from the start. But each member now has a clear understanding of their role in the day-to-day, as well long-term goals of the company. We also believe the personal touch our hardworking team offers to our users is a trait many other tech companies lack. Over the years, due to growth, new office space and the need for tangible day-to-day business operations, each employee has found their own routine. That’s not to say, however, we no longer have our best brainstorming sessions over a few beers and don’t have spontaneous company ping-pong tournaments. That startup culture is visibly stamped on MyTennisLessons.”
In the beginning, the team behind MTL worked long days from 8 AM to well over 8 PM each day to get every single detail of their new company. Now it seems they have worked out the kinks of a busy, young startup. They were mentioned in VentureBeat as one of 7 Promising Austin Startups (and in other various publications). They also have a well-updated, amusing, and intriguing blog that is sure to capture the interest of any tennis fanatic.
How Does it Work?
- The service is conducted entirely online through the pairing of MTL’s complete website and its app.
- Tennis instructors are encouraged to create a full profile listed with a brief bio, their experience level, lesson package options, and other essential information.
- This layout becomes their advertisement. Instructors can add as much or as little information as they like.
- Profile visitors have the option of booking directly through a form on the website, by phone, or any other options the instructor may provide.
- Conveniently, MTL also provides a messaging service for interested students to contact the prospective instructor directly. All of the information the client could ever need is all provided in a single, public space that can be easily accessed on both ends. (If you would like more information on how MTL works, visit their informative “How it Works” page!)
What’s Next for MTL?
MTL also has been keeping busy creating a similar platform for a different audience. The team has been using MyTennisLessons.com as the template for other online marketplaces. Recently, MTL’s team launched FitnessTrainer.com. This site allows you to search for and book time with a trainer in your area. MTL shares,
“Whether you want to try out crossfit for the first time or you’re looking for a new type of yoga, our aim is to set you up with the trainer who fits your needs.”
Currently, FitnessTrainer is only operating in Austin, Houston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The company hopes to offer their service nationwide in the next few months.
When FitnessTrainer is readily available, individuals of all skill levels will be able to approach fitness comfortably. Likewise, fitness trainers will be able to gain confidence in leading a small or large business of client training. Through platforms such as MyTennisLessons and FitnessTrainer, both the client and the trainer will perhaps find it easier to lead significant change in their lifestyle.
The MTL team is leading a significant online trend. It is an innovative company that is absolutely passionate about tennis. MTL brings crafty entrepreneurship, tennis humor, and an entirely new level of national networking. The team behind this interesting venture also proves to be a hardworking group of lively individuals determined to provide the best service on both ends of the spectrum. If you’re looking for a new tennis instructor, check out MyTennisLessons to see if there is an instructor best suited for you!
What do you think of this week’s Startup? Leave your comments below!