Youth Athletes United | EXECUTIVE Q&A
Adam Geisler, Co-Founder & CEO of Youth Athletes United
Geisler explains how the multi-brand franchisor behind four popular, longstanding youth sports programs got its start, why it stands out in the segment and what the future holds.
1851 Franchise: What void does Youth Athletes United fill? What inspired you to start?
Adam Geisler: I have had a long career in the sporting goods and health and wellness industry. What we noticed more than anything is all of the attention to health and wellness, be it sports or fitness, is aimed at the older consumer. The habit of physical exercise often becomes a consistent behavior later in life, to either maintain, combat or decrease your health risks. If we could start a company that focused on creating that behavior in kids at the beginning, we can make health and wellness a habit from two years of age and up. If we can focus on delivering fun content that teaches physical literacy and gives the confidence to every kid that they are an athlete, that is a winning formula for generations to come.
Even at the beginning, our team was focused on the bottom of the funnel—a child’s first sport experience. If we can make it engaging, we have a child engaged in sports for life. As we looked at the industry, there was little to no modernization, whether in the curriculum, the technology, the customer journey, the resources or the product itself. We have found new and unique ways to service curriculum and activities that have not been done before that allow us to meet families where they are rather than forcing them to always come to us. We have over 20 years of experience in providing curriculum and content with our brands and we are now bringing it to them digitally, in their backyards, parks, recreation centers, malls and branded retail locations! We need to meet the children at their level so that we can have a real connection as their first sports experience.
Our team came across the opportunity to combine each of our four brands, starting with Soccer Stars and Amazing Athletes, two of the strongest soccer and multi-sport brands in the country, in September 2018. We eventually added JumpBunch and TGA Premier Sports, the longest running multi-sport brand and #1 tennis and golf franchise brand respectively, and in September 2021, the parent company Youth Athletes United was created. All of these brands carry 15-20-plus years of experience in teaching kids physical literacy through sport, and are curriculum based, focusing on providing an athlete pathway from two all the way up to 16 years of age. As we continue to provide best in class content, we can keep kids and families engaged in our system for years and generations.
1851: What are your brand’s differentiators? What makes it a strong investment right now?
Geisler: The youth sports industry is making a major comeback, so it’s a perfect time to invest in Youth Athletes United. All brands under the Youth Athletes United umbrella are well-established with sports-specific vertical curricula, a strong customer base and a long foundation in stages and age appropriate curriculum that provides an athlete pathway. With four brands, we are giving owners the option to focus on younger age groups, 2-8, older age groups 6-14, or both. We encourage our owners to either scale vertically in a territory with multiple brands or scale into multiple territories with a single brand. Youth Athletes United franchisees will be met with opportunities, like the latest in technological offerings, a flexible work schedule, no required brick-and-mortar and a resilient business model that offers classes in daycare, afterschool, camps, clinics, parks, recreation centers, fields, courts and more. There isn't really any other space in child athletics that involves such a robust curriculum and organized progression. If you have a passion for impacting kids through sports, there is no better group to work with.
1851: What were some learning opportunities that Youth Athletes United leveraged to get where it is now?
Geisler: We’ve learned a lot about the resiliency of our business model through the COVID-19 pandemic. During the early stages of COVID-19, we found that parents needed trusted brands that could safely operate sports programs both indoors and outdoors and our business did not skip a beat. We never stopped servicing our customers, be it through virtual classes or finding new verticals that met parents' needs, like private groups and pods with their cohorts. Even more compelling, is that we have had record numbers across all of our brands in 2021, showing the strong demand that parents and kids want to be involved in sports now more than ever.
1851: What are some of Youth Athletes United’s most important milestones?
Geisler: In just three short years, we have built a platform that annually impacts over 200,000 kids, burns over 20 million calories, has 138 amazing owners that are educators, husbands and wives, youth wellness evangelists, has 283 franchise and corporate units across 36 states and 2 international territories, generates $50 million in systemwide revenue and we are just getting started.
1851: What does an ideal franchisee look like?
Geisler: The ideal Youth Athletes United franchisee is one who focuses on the opportunity and mission full-time and has to be passionate about impacting kids through sports. To maximize the potential, we are looking for a multi-brand owner in a territory or a multi-unit owner in a concentrated area. They’re business-minded and willing to invest time and capital. For example, someone might own two brands across verticals spanning preschool to elementary school-aged kids within the same territory — a natural progression for a youth athlete. For this option, we extend a 10% discount on the initial franchise fee. Owners looking to support our goal of impacting one million kids a year through our system will be fantastic members of our team.
1851: How does Youth Athletes United support franchisees?
Geisler: Youth Athletes United goes above and beyond to support its owners, who are promised instant access to our intellectual capital of over 35 people on the corporate team and 86 people working on corporate territories that help test, learn and support our franchisees. We provide strong operational support manuals and curated, age appropriate curriculum developed by educators and doctors. Additionally, we provide proprietary in-house technology platforms for search, registrations, and administration, along with a robust learning management system for on-boarding franchisees and coaches. Easy to use B2B e-commerce platforms to provide all of your equipment and apparel needs. We have a robust technology pipeline to enhance administration and operational efficiency so that the franchisees can focus on more field time and less screen time.
1851: What are your growth goals? How many units is the brand targeting over the next year?
Geisler: Today, Youth Athletes United has 138 unique franchise owners across 36 states in the United States. Of our current owners, over 30% are multi-unit owners and 25% are multi-brand owners laying the pathway for scalable growth for our franchisees. Top growth markets for the end of 2021 and looking ahead to 2022 include major cities in Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and Texas. Annually, we expect to sell 30 - 50 new units per year across the brand portfolio. Soccer Stars and JumpBunch will be launching franchising options in 2022. We have aggressive growth goals and we are driven by our mission to impact as many kids as we can through brands. Looking forward to expanding our team and teammates!
For more information on franchising with Youth Athletes United, visit https://youthathletesunited.com.