This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Chris Roche, founder and CEO of RecruitChute.
This Whitewater startup connects promising high school soccer players with college programs, giving each a chance to create their own pages and search for potential matches. After nearly two years of growing a pilot platform, Roche is planning to launch a commercial version of the product on Dec. 15.
“It works; it beats other companies,” he said. “People tend to appreciate that we’re soccer exclusive.”
Roche explains that the recruiting process for sports like football, basketball and baseball is very different from soccer. Rather than looking at different sports, Roche decided to take the company international.
“We just signed a contract yesterday with a company that’s going to be taking us to all the professional clubs in Europe,” he said Thursday. “They will be using RecruitChute as a way to help their athletes come to America and play college soccer.”
Roche, who grew up in Manchester, England, has played soccer his whole life, including for UW-Whitewater’s Division 3 team. When considering his options after secondary school, he knew he wasn’t good enough to join the professional leagues, but wanted to keep playing all the same.
“The beauty of playing college soccer in America is you are a student athlete,” he said. “At the end of the four years of playing, you also have a degree, which is something you can never take away from someone.”
In Europe, players going through professional academies can often get dropped around age 17, and left with no degree to fall back on. That makes college soccer in the United States a uniquely attractive option for these players.
“How do you recruit a player from Hungary when you’re … here in New Jersey? There’s no way of doing that,” he said. “Whereas with this, now you can recruit players worldwide from your office. That’s really the direction that we want to move to.”