Startup develops athletic recruiting app


The Arena mobile app would feature data on individual high school athletes for college recruiters. Photo via

A startup is developing a mobile app to connect high school athletes with recruiters.

The Arena

Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids, said last week — after a summer hiatus — that it will invest $5,000 in The Arena, an in-development app for high school athletes, collegiate coaches and recruiters.

Incorporating a resume-posting framework, The Arena would enable a high school athlete to create a profile and upload information on their statistics, awards and schedule.

The app would then allow coaches and recruiters to view the athlete’s information in an efficient manner, accessible from anywhere.

Will Bowser, founder of The Arena, said the hope is the app would mutually benefit coaches and players by streamlining the recruiting process by connecting coaches and recruiters to reliable and relevant information.

“As a coach, if I can walk into a tournament, camp or combine and pull up a list of players available at that event on my phone, can access specific measurable information, have links to film and highlights, and I am provided specific contact information with which to connect, I can greatly expand the scope and reach of my program,” Bowser said.

Bowser added that app would tailor an athlete’s profile to the sport that they play.

With first-hand experience going through the college recruiting process for athletes, Bowser said the idea for The Arena developed after recognizing the system was outdated and an opportunity for improvement existed.

Next steps

The Arena will use the Start Garden funds to prove or disprove Bowser’s hypothesis of the recruitment process for college athletes — before proceeding with development, based on development costs.

“The challenge, and fun part for me, is going to be coming up with a solid answer to that original hypothesis and doing it in a creative and cost-effective way,” Bowser said.

Bowser said that Start Garden doesn’t just provide financial support, but it also connects entrepreneurs to a network of professionals who can propel their ideas forward.

“I think I said something like ‘boom, I got funded’ really loud,” Bowser said. “After the initial excitement began to taper off, I realized how much work this was going to be and how much fun I was going to have doing it. I am grateful for the opportunity.”

The process

The Arena was chosen by Start Garden based on a public vote at and a decision by the Start Garden team, as part of the seed fund’s weekly award of $5,000 in initial funding to a startup.

The Arena team is required to return to a monthly Start Garden Update Night event after a couple of months to present on its progress to be considered for further funding.

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