St. Louis Cardinals first-year manager Oliver Marmol learned from the best. The youngest current leader of an MLB team said he’s gotten to his position by getting to ask questions of players, coaches and Hall of Famers in the organization since being drafted by St. Louis in 2007. Now, he wants to give more students of the game that opportunity.
Marmol co-founded Versus (VS) with his wife, Amber, to offer interactive, educational content and mentorship to aspiring athletes. The service will start with baseball and softball instruction, with plans to expand to soccer and beyond later this year. Teachers include Fernando Tatis Jr., Albert Pujols, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza.
Versus partnered with conversational video tech provider StoryFile to create a feature that will allow users to ask the pros any of 100s of specific questions, ranging from How should I grip a fastball? to How do you handle fear? Marmol said the team put a special emphasis on those more emotional IQ-related questions.
“Some of the most moving conversations that I’ve had that have changed the trajectory of my career have been at a dinner table, where I’m just listening to some of these guys tell their stories, and at any point, being able to stop them and say, Hey, tell me more about that,” Marmol said. “We didn’t want to just provide content where you hit the play button and listen for an hour…. We wanted to mimic those conversations that allow you to leave with more direction and clarity to get you to where you want to get to, and more confidence in how to get there.”
With plans to offer advice for players, coaches and parents, Versus will launch as a subscription product. Versus has raised $8 million to ramp up production and sign talent, with plans to open a Series B in a matter of weeks. CEO Eric Frye runs the company, with former Spirit AeroSystems CEO Larry Lawson serving as board chairman.
Marmol said the concept is something he and Amber have been developing for nearly seven years. “Some people, during their offseason, take vacations and golf,” Marmol said. “My wife and I dive into business. This is our hobby, this is how we unplug and do life together.”