Former Disney Executive Launches App for Youth Sports Coaches

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Former Disney Executive Launches App for Youth Sports Coaches

Ben Sherwood, the former Walt Disney Co. executive and L.A. native, spent 12 years coaching his kids' sports teams. The same question followed him year after year: how do you lead a good practice?

"You have one minute after you get off your last work call to walk onto a field with eight or 10 kids," said Sherwood, who stepped down from his position as president of Disney-ABC TV Group and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks in March 2019. "What are you going to do? No matter what your level, every mom and dad knows you need good ideas."

His new app Mojo, which launched Tuesday, offers custom training schedules for youth soccer coaches pressed for time. He hopes the platform will help the 500 million kids playing organized sports get back on the field as practices and games pick back up.

"In Southern California and in Los Angeles in particular, sports have been shut down harder and longer than in most places," Sherwood said. "We want to be there for whenever spring soccer begins, wherever you live."

Last February, the startup raised an $8 million Series A round from investors including L.A.-based Tom Werner, owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club, and U.S. women's national soccer team players Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain. The company is also backed by dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff.

mojo coaching app

After a coach enters details about their players like skill level and age, Mojo generates a list of tutorials and activities. And even if "your kids only want to climb the tree in the park," Sherwood said, the app can still help.

"Youth sports is chaos," said co-founder and chief operating officer Reed Shaffner, who's worked at Microsoft, Scopely and the game developer Zynga. "You might have the best plan and then everything goes by the wayside because it's little kids."

He and Sherwood worked with child psychologists and youth coaches to build out the app's functions, many of which are free. They also worked with Mandalay Sports Media — producers of the Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance" — to shoot tutorials at the Banc of California Stadium.

In following the startup's mission of "leveling the playing field" for kids interested in sports, Sherwood said, Mojo Inc. will offer premium subscriptions to volunteer coaches with Coaching Corps. And as the platform catches on, the startup will add more sports.

"I do have a dream list," Sherwood said. "I would say tackle football is not on the list. I would say that just about everything else is."

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

Managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton announced the layoffs Sunday on her “Your First Million” podcast. General partners Christie Pitts and Brittany Davis, along with Hamilton, are the only remaining employees, TechCrunch reported. The move comes only three months after the Los Angeles-based firm said it would only fund existing portfolio companies.

Read moreShow less

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Courtesy of Brella

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

Read moreShow less

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

“Talent Is Ubiquitous; Access to Capital Is Not': MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Early-Stage Startups
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

Read moreShow less