St. Louis Cardinals Manager Launches Versus, An Immersive Sports EdTech App With All-Star Athletes
Versus (VS), a new sports edtech company, announced the upcoming launch of its platform and app. VS will provide aspiring athletes access to elite mentorship and skills training with professional athletes through exclusive video content and conversational AI. At launch, the platform will feature a roster of world-class baseball and softball players serving as instructors, with soccer and other sports set to release later this year. Users will be able to learn about both the physical and mental side of sports as they interact with talent like Fernando Tatis Jr., Albert Pujols, Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza and others.
Co-founded by St. Louis Cardinals Manager Oliver Marmol and his wife Amber, VS was born out of an industry void of readily available, reliable and accurate training and mentorship materials. With a shared passion for entrepreneurship and philanthropy, the pair developed VS as a vehicle for any aspiring athlete to learn the critical skills needed to succeed both in sports and in life – taught by top athletes and coaches that most people would never have access to. 8 years in the making, the VS platform will be available via subscription starting next month, initially offering courses from eight athletes across baseball and fast-pitch softball. Beyond skills training, courses include lessons on subjects that transcend sports like mental toughness and overcoming adversity.
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“Our mission is to unlock the full potential of any aspiring athlete by providing access to those who can teach them how,” said Oliver Marmol, co-founder of VS. “In my own professional career, being able to ask follow-up questions to my mentors opened up so many doors for me, and we hope to do the same for the next generation of athletes.”
According to analysts, the global edtech market is expected to grow into a $318.8 billion industry in the next five years. With $8 million in total funding, VS is poised to disrupt the fast-growing market with first-of-its-kind technology in the space. Using conversational technology powered by Conversa from StoryFile, VS allows users to ask questions and receive responses in real time from instructors on the platform.. Having that kind of access provides aspiring athletes with a significant edge in the learning process of not only getting better in their chosen sport, but also in the powerful lessons taught on overcoming failure, recovering from injury, managing self-doubt and more.
“Our platform fills a huge hole in the market. Before now, aspiring athletes who desired to learn more did so on a linear path with two-dimensional content. But through Versus, they will be able to go deeper with our experts to break down the mentality of becoming an elite athlete and unlock their full potential on and off the field,” said Eric Frye, CEO of VS. “Never before has there been an offering that has our mix of professional-level mentorship, live interaction and philanthropy.”
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On a mission to level the playing field, VS is committed to contributing 10% of topline revenue to charitable organizations that focus on development and access for underserved youth. VS will also partner with local charity organizations and community centers to provide the service for aspiring athletes who otherwise would not have access. The VS Access Initiative will be spearheaded by co-founder Amber Marmol, who said: “Being able to offer this kind of access to aspiring athletes – who may otherwise not have this opportunity – was the genesis for this vision. I am beyond thankful that through Versus, we will be able to make this dream a reality.”
Versus is supported by strong leadership and advisement from its board of directors and advisory board. Serving as board chairman is Larry Lawson, former president and CEO of Spirit AeroSystems. Prior to his time at Spirit, Larry served as executive vice president at Lockheed Martin Corp. With significant experience in the overall sports vertical, Jonathan Weisz, founder of Skilz, also serves on the advisory board. Additional board and advisory members include: Mike Shildt, co-founder of VS and former St. Louis Cardinals coach, Ryan Baker, co-founder and chairman of Adventech, LLC, Jennifer Deutsch, CMO at Park Place Technologies, Jessica Mendoza, ESPN sports broadcaster and former collegiate and Olympic softball player, Steve Hodges, executive vice president of promotion and artist development at Sony Music and Trey Nielsen, co-founder and current customer experience leader at VS.
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