LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As U.S. families eagerly anticipate a return to play, MOJO, an innovative youth sports mobile app, launches to bring the magic back to youth sports. MOJO takes the aggravation, stress and chaos out of coaching and makes sports more fun for millions of families with young athletes.
Led by Ben Sherwood (former co-chair of the Disney Media Networks, president of the Disney ABC Television Group and president of ABC News) and Reed Shaffner, one of the tech world's top product leaders (formerly of Microsoft, Zynga and Scopely), MOJO guides parent-coaches through each season with tools and technology to make coaching easier and less intimidating. A number of prominent athletes joined MOJO as early investors and supporters, including Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson and USWNT legends Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain (all parents of young athletes).
With the MOJO app, a coach can run a practice from the palm of her hand. The MOJO app builds personalized practices customized to the age, skill level and the preferences of each team — based on a curriculum developed in conjunction with the country's top coaches and experts in the fields of youth sports and child psychology. The one-touch technology continuously learns about a coach and team to deliver age-appropriate and engaging activities, games and challenges that kids will enjoy. MOJO's practices feature exclusive, high-quality short-form instructional and entertainment videos, produced by the Emmy award-winning team at Mandalay Sports Media (ESPN's "The Last Dance"). The app also delivers helpful articles, advice and other content that supports parent-coaches at every step of the youth sports journey.
"With world-class technology and storytelling, our mission is to bring the magic — the mojo — back to youth sports," said Ben Sherwood, MOJO founder and CEO, and a volunteer coach for the last 12 years with two sons playing four different sports. "I really needed an app like MOJO when I was coaching soccer, baseball, basketball and flag football. In fact, most parent-coaches wish they had a trusted one-stop solution that made coaching easy and fun. That's MOJO's goal – to save you time and effort, to give you what you really need, and to deliver more memories and magic on the field or court."
"Roughly 80 percent of the coaches of kids 13 and under are volunteer parents," said Reed Shaffner, MOJO co-founder and COO. "I just finished coaching a season of 10-year-old boys in Los Angeles, and despite playing soccer my whole life, it was really hard. The modern sports industrial complex largely ignores parent-coaches who need easy, age-appropriate help now more than ever."
MOJO hits the app store at a critical moment. Globally, the youth sports market is poised to grow to $77.6 billion by 2026. But in the U.S., youth sports are broken. "Kids and families are forced out, priced out and burned out," said Sherwood. Around 70 percent of youth athletes drop out by age 13. COVID-19 has only made these problems worse. Now, three out of 10 families say their children have stopped playing sports altogether and will not return when the pandemic is over. "MOJO is ready to help lead the much-anticipated return to play," said Sherwood.
MOJO's first season of content features soccer, with all major youth sports — including basketball, baseball/softball, flag football and volleyball — planned for future updates.
"Everywhere I travel, I meet kids who want to learn from the best coaches in the world and parents who want to help them meet their potential," said Russell Wilson, founding partner, investor and board member (and assistant Little League coach for his son). "I believe MOJO provides the one-stop solution that I wish I had when I was a kid — that I will use as a dad - and that's going to change youth sports around the world for the better."
"MOJO helps you with the Xs and Os on the field but it's also focused on developing young athletes in positive ways with character and values," said Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. Women's National Team, two-time FIFA World Champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and MOJO investor and founding athlete. "MOJO cares about helping parents become better parents and kids become better athletes, leaders, and human beings. I believe MOJO is going to transform a lot of lives and make the youth sports experience happier and healthier."
MOJO is an official grassroots education partner for US Youth Soccer (USYS), the largest youth sport organization in the US with three million players and 300,000 parent-coaches. "MOJO is perfect," says Tom Condone, Director of Sport and Member Development for USYS. "This tool maximizes the reasons to play and engage in the sport, and minimizes the reasons for players to quit or drop out."
To help level the playing field, MOJO has partnered with Coaching Corps and is giving the app free to its 10,000 volunteer coaches in low-income areas across the US.
MOJO is available on iOS for any coach to download. Clubs and organizations are also able to purchase MOJO on behalf of members, unlocking additional features. Basic access is free for parent-coaches with a premium tier called MOJO+ available for an annual fee of $19.99.
MOJO is available in the U.S. and internationally and has been beta-tested in 18 states.
MOJO's Series A funding was led by Alpha Edison Ventures and its managing partner Nick Grouf, who serves on the MOJO board. Other investors include Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group; Liontree LLC (investment and merchant bank); UTA Ventures; WndrCo (Jeffrey Katzenberg's holding company), Ironfire Ventures, Spencer Rascoff (former CEO and co-founder of Zillow Group), and Brian Lee (founder of The Honest Company, LegalZoom and Shoe Dazzle).
Launched in February 2021, MOJO is a robust digital platform that empowers parents who coach youth sports to bring world-class training to the largest pool of players in the world — kids aged 13 and under. MOJO believes that youth sports has the power to transform lives, not just for the kids on the field but the coaches and parents on the sidelines. MOJO is committed to equity, inclusion and helping level the playing field for kids everywhere. For more information, visit www.mojo.sport. MOJO can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.