When most people think of Nastia Liukin, they think: gymnast, Olympic Gold Medalist, athlete. When we think of Nastia here at Rightpoint, we think: entrepreneur and mentor. Years ago, we were introduced to Nastia Liukin and her Co-Founder Matt Lombardi, also a professional athlete. They approached Rightpoint seeking a strategic partner, to discuss their aspirations for the athletic youth community and how it could benefit from technology.
Matt Lombardi has history as a hockey player, having advanced from his team at Boston College to playing professionally for a number of years. Nastia has won 5 Olympic medals throughout her professional career. Both athletes grew up with mentors available to them and a strong community that provided support.
But how has modern technology affected mentorship and community for young athletes? With platforms like Facebook and Instagram, young athletes have access to many users both within and outside their communities. During the 2016 Olympics Nastia witnessed how excited the young gymnasts were by their mentors, and was interested to learn how she could further engage with them. Matt and Nastia heard concerns from coaches and parents from gyms all across the country, and wanted to provide a platform that would allow young gymnasts to socialize, gain mentor support and advice, and build a larger community while maintaining their privacy. That’s why they decided to reach out to Rightpoint for help building an app.
The iOS app, called Grander, was designed and developed to help inspire young gymnasts to aspire to their goals. As of now the application has been kept solely to the gymnastic community, though there are future plans to expand to other athletic specialties. Matt and Nastia first began testing using a private Instagram and went on foot to gyms in the greater Boston area, hearing what both the young gymnasts as well as their parents thought of the idea. In this case, the platform has two different sets of users.
Today, Grander’s young gymnasts are thoroughly vetted through an application process and the community extends beyond the app. Nastia and her fellow mentors are nurturing their communities both within the app and in-person, with live events like their Grander Summit 2017. The goal is for the community to continue growing while bridging the gap between the mentors and the young athletes.
“As a young gymnast, I always craved any kind of information from my gymnastics idols. I searched the internet and spent hours watching YouTube videos trying to learn as much as I could from my heroes. Today, as a mentor on Grander, I put myself back in the shoes of a young aspiring gymnast, and try to give them as much of my gymnastics knowledge as I can that I learned throughout my competitive career,” Nastia says.
And Nastia is contributing to sports outside gymnastics as well. She recently donated an autographed leotard from her signature collection to be auctioned off at an event, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Pelotonia: a biking non-profit based in Columbus, Ohio that has raised over $130 million dollars to fund cancer research, aiming to end the disease. (Embedded tweet)