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Athleta-Ed.com

Education Through the Lens of Sports

Highlights

1
Unique business model and IP within ed-tech that will drive value and learning outcomes
2
A world-class team in higher education, global sports, and technology
3
First accredited online undergraduate course by a top-20 ranked business-school (UCLA Anderson)

Our Team

Huge market opportunity and huge potential for social impact. To be one of the leaders in the future of education and the future of work. To teach better.

Business Through the Lens of Sports

Hany Syed started with a simple idea: that there must be a lot of people who were just like him - professionals who would love to put their skills to work in the sports industry. As a private equity professional with a focus on the education sector, Hany had the network and the expertise to pursue this opportunity further. At the end of 2017, he approached one of his friends: Dr. Andrew Shogan, a longtime professor at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. As one of the first in his family to obtain a college degree through a football scholarship at Princeton, Andy personally experienced the life-changing power of sports and education. Hany and Andy began to rack their brains for how they might begin to bring sports into the world of education.

Two years later, they launched the first accredited fully online undergraduate course by a top-20 ranked business school.

First Aha! Moment

The first thing we realized when we put our heads together was that there was a great opportunity for financial and social impact at the undergraduate level. Athleta-Ed would have a simple mission: to leverage sports to create more compelling content for core business school courses. Think of Accounting taught with the financials of the Green Bay Packers or Entrepreneurship taught with the VC investments of Kevin Durant. Additionally, through sports, Athleta-Ed could drive academic partnerships at top-ranked universities with major athletic programs. We could not only reach student-athletes seeking to extend their sports careers beyond college but the much larger market opportunity of undergraduate students interested in business generally and students interested in making careers in the sports industry more specifically.

We set out to speak with colleagues from Haas and other top business schools, ed-tech executives, and friends that had access to the sports industry. Our early conversations were encouraging, to say the least. The potential value for student-athletes was a major factor driving the initial interest from business schools. The issue wasn’t that students like Hany couldn’t take undergraduate courses in business when he was at Berkeley but rather that former student-athletes like Jason Kidd, Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Brown, and Jared Goff could not take courses that would be relevant to their future lives. The same problem exists for students (athletes and non-athletes) at top-ranked universities throughout the country. Enrollment in undergraduate business courses is highly competitive at universities such as Michigan, Texas, USC, and Notre Dame and essentially not possible at all at universities such as Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and UCLA that do not offer majors in business. Through the initial research, it became clear that Athleta-Ed could solve for the limited access to undergraduate business courses at the best universities in the country. More specifically, we could do this by developing academic partnerships with the support of university athletic departments and business schools that were concerned about the limited business and financial education available to student-athletes. 

With the initial thesis, we started pitching sports leaders as possible early investors and advisors.

Early Validation 

In early 2018, we launched our first pilot course with UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, by leveraging a longstanding relationship with leadership at UCLA Anderson. We created a hybrid course (online and in-person) where both in-class and remote students enrolled in the same course. For that first course, UCLA Anderson had major sports industry leaders as guest speakers:

With the announcement of the UCLA Anderson partnership, Athleta-Ed brought on prominent investors and advisors that have access to the highest levels in global sports. Collectively, our very deep bench of investors and advisors have 100+ years in leadership in sports, education, and tech. One of our early advisors, Russell Ramesh, was so excited about the opportunity he decided to get involved operationally. After working with Hany and Andy for several months, Russell’s role grew to the point where he joined Athleta-Ed as a co-founder in November 2019. Russell is a leading ed-tech executive with over a decade of leadership experience managing a global team and was responsible for multi-year, multi-million dollar projects for elite global universities and leading ed-tech companies.   

Second Aha! Moment

Even though it would be fair to call Hany, Andy, and Russell sports nerds, they were not experts in the early days of Athleta-Ed on the inner workings of college athletic departments or the sheer scope of college sports:

  • 500,000 NCAA Athletes
  • 2,000,000 students who participate in club sports
  • =12.5% of total undergraduate students

While student-athletes are not a primary market, they are a large segment, which Athleta-Ed has unique access to. This access creates superior unit economics compared to current ed-tech market leaders.

Finalizing the Business Model

Through its successful Pilot, Athleta-Ed finalized an agreement with UCLA Anderson as its Foundational Academic Partner. The company has since offered two more successful summer courses, in 2019 and 2020. Athleta-Ed has two primary areas of the business:

  • B2B2C -> Accredited online undergraduate courses in partnership with universites, such as those offered through UCLA
  • B2BC -> Direct to consumers for professional studies / ed-tech / vocational in partnership with sports industry leaders 

Validation of Unique Ed-Tech Product and Service Offering

CORE PRODUCT - DIGITAL VIDEO TEXTBOOK 
TARGETING BUSINESS SCHOOLS INITIALLY

  • High production value videos licensed to universities  
  • Core business topics presented by faculty from top-ranked universities and sports leaders with teaching experience
  • Supported by Industry Insights (live Guest Speakers and high production value short-form supplemental content)

                                      (6-Minute Snippet of Full Course Module)

SUPPLEMENTAL CONTENT - INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
BUSINESS THROUGH THE LENS OF SPORTS

  • High production value short-form videos (live and recorded lectures)
  • Examples from the sports industry related to course topics designed to drive learning outcomes

                                           (30-Second Snippet of Full Guest Lecture)

                                       (50-Second Snippet of Full Guest Lecture)

Athleta-Ed launched the first accredited fully online undergraduate course by a top-20 ranked business school in Summer 2019. The company offers a unique product and delivery model that provides significant value to universities and students. The core offering is a digital video textbook that is licensed to academic partners. Athleta-Ed develops the syllabus and course videos created in collaboration with faculty from top academic institutions and sports leaders who have teaching experience. We are able to take universities online at a cheaper cost in a shorter period of time with an online course that is far more engaging than what a university can offer in-house

Where we are today and where we plan to go

After two years of hard work, Athleta-Ed has achieved significant milestones: 

- 10 undergrad business courses to partner with UCLA and other b-schools
- 6 professional studies courses to partner with industry
- Validated product market fit
- Active discussions with potential academic and sports industry partners
- Founding team with world-class background to execute the strategy  

After establishing ourselves as an ed-tech leader across a number of key metrics (enrollment, operating margins, cost of student acquisition, student course completion, student retention, and placement within the global sports industry), there are several directions Athleta-Ed can go in terms of expanding its curriculum and services. Additionally, the company can create specific verticals for higher ed, professional studies and K-12 (where the founder has expertise).   

We're a passionate team backed by an equally passionate group of investors and advisors. We're excited to connect with you. 


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