GymDandy looks to become Airbnb for athletic spaces

Madison startup GymDandy is hoping to become the Airbnb for athletic spaces, helping sports teams find spaces to practice and compete in.

GymDandy’s app, which is expected to launch in the spring, will make renting athletic spaces easier for anyone who needs one, said founder and CEO Nicholas Kartos. It also will largely target youth recreational and club sports teams that need space.

“You can basically rent spaces for this purpose already at a school or a church, but everyone does it a different way,” Kartos said. “We want to simplify it.”

Kartos began the venture about a year ago and began working on it full time after leaving his previous position as director of media and advertising at Sport Ngin, a website that helps organize sports leagues. His co-founder, Joe Fahrenkrug, hopped on full time at the beginning of this year.

Kartos is familiar with the struggles that coaches go through to find places to practice. He is a former youth coach himself and founded the Wisconsin high school sports news website Wisconsin Sports Network.

“One coach told me that she once spent 18 hours to get 4 hours of soccer field practice time,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of stories like that, and I knew there was really no solution on the market.”

That’s when Kartos began thinking of an app that would be similar to other “sharing economy” apps such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. And the reaction so far has largely been positive, he said.

“Some people were wondering if we can really create such an app, but it’s been really well received,” Kartos said. “I think it will be a really popular both statewide and nationwide.”

The initial spring launch will mainly includes space owners in Madison, but Kartos plans to branch out to other areas throughout the state by fall and hopes to grow beyond the state soon after.

The company has raised almost $100,000 to help develop the app, according to an SEC filing from last week.

— By Jordyn Noennig,