Vertical social platform for youth sports Heja

– 140,000 sports teams use the app giving a global audience of 1.5bn people 

– Growth of up to 150% forecast as lockdowns begin to ease

Stockholm, Sweden-based Heja, the vertical social platform for Team Sport communication, has scored a US$ 4.2M seed round led by Amsterdam-based Peak Capital. Peak is joined by existing investors, including Luminar Ventures, Bonnier Ventures, Inbox Capital, and Max Ventures, as well as various high profile angels, namely Ted Nelson (ex-Truecaller CCO) and former NHL player Mattias Weinhandl.

Heja’s social platform allows coaches, parents and players to easily organize and communicate in one place. The company was founded by Mikael Blix and Johan Berglund, who previously founded, the largest sports club management platform in the Nordics. 

Co-founders : Mikael Blix and Johan Berglund

In 2017, they started Heja with the ambition to connect a global audience of 1.5 billion people in youth sports by focusing on the team instead of the club. Today, over 140,000 teams use Heja to keep track of upcoming practices, schedule games and share images and videos within the team. 

Mikael Blix, co-founder and CEO of Heja, comments on the company’s mission to promote team sports among children: “Youth sports have a tremendous impact on society, leading to better results in school, helping children make lifelong friends and building foundations for healthy lifestyles. Today, youth sports involve 1.5 billion people across the globe. Heja’s mission is to give them the place to meet, grow and develop together as players, parents and coaches. The pandemic made our mission clearer than ever, as kids continue to need the physical and social stimulation that comes with playing a team sport.”

Heja calculated that its platform has led to an additional 4.1m hours of youth sports participation, mainly thanks to increased parental engagement. Heja brings parents closer and more engaged with their child’s sports team, with 91% of parents reporting higher engagement thanks to the platform. Heja also helps kids to be in touch with their team members, which became increasingly important when games and practices came to a standstill during the pandemic. With vaccination rates increasing and countries opening up, Heja has seen a strong upswing in activity, as kids can go out to play team sports again.

The funds will be used to grow the team, drive product development, as well as further market expansion. To date, Heja is being used in over 50 countries, with most of the users coming from the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States alone, the market capitalization for youth sports is estimated to be US$ 30B. 

Last year, Heja launched a Pro version with features like desktop access, payment tracking, attendance statistics, unlimited admins, and document sharing. 

David Zwagemaker, Principal at Peak Capital, who led the round, is confident that Heja can achieve market expansion and revenue targets, “When we first met Mikael and Johan we were immediately really impressed with their ambition to build a global sports platform. Most sports teams today still rely on Whatsapp, Facebook, email or small local apps, which results in a sub-par user experience. The Heja team has built a platform that is used heavily by more than 1 million users worldwide – and it is very sticky: parents use the app seven times per week on average, and coaches are even more active.” 

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Komal writes about the startup ecosystem on VCBay. She is an Economics Hons. graduate from Miranda House, Delhi University, and is passionate about the world of entrepreneurship and finance.


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