With Lessons from Michael Phelps and Maria Sharapova, The Skills Looks to be the Master Class for Athletes
The Skills wants to be the master class on sports and life.
The Los Angeles-based startup launched two months ago and offers classes from gold medal Olympians — including swimmer Michael Phelps and volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings — and Grand Slam tennis Champion Maria Sharapova.
On Friday, it announced that it closed a $5 million seed round to expand its online sports education platform. Investors include Boston-based Will Ventures, Global Founders Capital, 8VC, Maveron, Hack VC and Correlation VC.
Omer Atesmen, the founder and chief executive officer of The Skills, arrived at the idea for the company while in Japan last year, where preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics were underway. Having sold his second company, Clean Energy Experts, in 2015, he was ready to take on a new project, and saw an opportunity in creating online sports education from the biggest names around the globe.
"There's just a ton of people who are admired worldwide and who have a lot to teach," he said. "I had seen some of the online educational platforms that were popping up, like MasterClass, and a few others. And it occurred to me that there was a real opportunity to verticalize premium online education in the sports and wellness space."
Grand Slam tennis Champion Maria Sharapova is one of many athletes offering courses on The Skills' platform.
The Skills offers multi-episode classes from top-tier sports players and lesser known ones as well. National Football League "Anything But Ordinary" Player of the Year Larry Fitzgerald has signed on. The company recently inked a partnership with two-time World Cup Champion and gold medalist Megan Rapinoe.
The online classes cover specific techniques used in sports, but also explore essential skills such as leadership and teamwork that athletes at the top of their game must master. Sports are central, but each course's themes apply to non-athletes as well — one course examines recovering from an injury. The classes are short, often no longer than 10 minutes.
Athletes have complete control over the curriculum they teach in each video, but the company provides them background and research to build their classes around.
The Skills founder and chief executive officer Omer Atesmen.
"They talk about how to handle pressure, how to think about leadership," said Atesmen. "I'm not a professional athlete, but those are the stories that, when you ask our users — or even me, specifically — give me the biggest goosebumps."
The company will be choosing athletes and topics based on user feedback. Atesmen said he expects to release a few more courses before the end of the year.
This investment round was led by Will Ventures, an early-stage venture firm focused on sports-centric innovations.
"As a former player, I've seen how the lessons learned in sports transcend far beyond the playing field," said Isaiah Kacyvenski, co-founder of Will Ventures, in a statement. "There's huge potential to democratize these insights, and The Skills is in the position to lead the charge. We believe in the power of their platform, and their ability to unlock learnings from the greatest athletes that have risen to the top."
Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.
The Santa Monica-based movie-ticketing service Atom Tickets has pre-sold more tickets for "Godzilla vs. Kong" than any film since the start of lockdown.
Following a disastrous year for the box office, its performance could be a litmus test for Hollywood and the many theaters that teetered on the brink during the pandemic.
The Theatrical Release Window: Will the Changes Last?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e7bb2683314ede849919cd30d57c4099"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZOlPoYDVYwk?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
- Warner Bros.' Films Will Be Released in Theaters, HBO Max - dot.LA ›
- VidCon Returns! Could Other In-Person Events Be Coming Soon ... ›
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
Despite — or in many cases because of — the raging pandemic, 2020 was a great year for many tech startups. It turned out to be an ideal time to be in the video game business, developing a streaming ecommerce platform for Gen Z, or helping restaurants with their online ordering.
But which companies in Southern California had the best year? That is highly subjective of course. But in an attempt to highlight who's hot, we asked dozens of the region's top VCs to weigh in.
We wanted to know what companies they wish they would have invested in if they could go back and do it all over again.
Hottest<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzIyNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTQ3MjQ2OH0.JYCNMjYvosYa5SI7701CH_jMFbeFdMcRCChXt442cq0/image.png?width=980" id="3927d" width="686" height="128" data-rm-shortcode-id="5defd5b7e1983aa7681f36d6e1783a7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="PopShop Live logo" />
Boiling<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzIyOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzI5MjYwMn0.h7Nq7GiwXTcg_7Io5WEXblFX0rWQHxn69RzluTh7n_Q/image.png?width=980" id="4e424" width="361" height="93" data-rm-shortcode-id="b53f9030fdb96b08d7cfdb5383c97bfb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Scopely logo" />
Simmering<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzMxNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjM4MjQ5Mn0.XSHQfru9tTpdeBqd_ecb--8DiZg_vdyOtF9ZV9zAG78/image.png?width=980" id="839d0" width="455" height="111" data-rm-shortcode-id="79ffc10f23fc7ca1572d55df3f299f85" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Warming Up<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzYwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MzQ1MzE4OX0.fS5XtGx4M-tqWecrth6NCHawGSg2aSkb-yR-cY3wbtU/image.png?width=980" id="4fca7" width="600" height="600" data-rm-shortcode-id="6a5ba1810dd71af400ee8f61634cc56e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
- Los Angeles' Tech and Startup Scene is Growing. - dot.LA ›
- The dot.LA/ Pitchbook Top 50 LA Startups for 2020 Q2 - dot.LA ›
- dot.LA/Pitchbook 50 Hottest Los Angeles Companies - dot.LA ›
Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.