Youth-soccer franchisor adds outside investor

The founders of Middletown-based Soccer Shots are hoping an outside investor can help kick their company into new territory

  • The investor is Susquehanna Private Capital. The Bala Cynwyd-based private equity firm has taken an undisclosed ownership stake in Soccer Shots, whose franchisees provide soccer programs for children ages 2 to 8.
  • Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. But the company’s existing owners — Justin Bredeman, Jeremy Sorzano and Jason Webb — are retaining a stake, as well as a hand in shaping the company’s future.
  • That could include branching into other, non-soccer programs for young people, Bredeman said this week in a phone interview.
From left, Soccer Shots co-owners Jeremy Sorzano, Justin Bredeman and Jason Webb (photo/submitted).
  • “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to explore opportunities,’” said Bredeman, the CEO of Soccer Shots. “And I think Susquehanna was really the partner that we interacted with that saw a similar future.”
  • Webb is vice president of strategic partnerships at Soccer Shots; Sorzano is a senior adviser and board member. 

What’s the future: As part of the investment deal, Soccer Shots and Susquehanna have created a platform they are calling Stronger Youth Brands to house youth-oriented franchise businesses, whether newly created or acquired.

  • The platform is similar to those in other markets, like food. Focus Brands, for exampkle, is the platform for pretzel franchisor Auntie Anne’s and other food brands.
  • What’s relatively new is bringing it to the world of youth-enrichment programs, said Bredeman, who used to work at Auntie Anne’s.
  • “We believe that we can apply what we’ve learned in franchising and providing excellent experiences to individuals and families,” Bredeman said. “It doesn’t have to stop at soccer.”
  • In a statement, Susquehanna exec Ken Parsons said a decline in publicly funded youth programs should create opportunities.
  • “We believe Soccer Shots is well-positioned to serve as the platform to help scale other complementary, youth concepts across the globe,” Parsons said.

Where did it start: Bredeman, Sorzano and Webb played soccer together at Messiah College (now Messiah University), one of the top Division III soccer programs in the U.S. 

  • Sorzano and Webb founded Soccer Shots in 1997. They trademarked the name and began franchising in 2005.
  • Bredeman was an early franchisee and became a co-owner in 2009. 
  • Today, the company has 24 employees and 140 franchisees in nearly 40 states and Canada. Its president is Kevin Stumpf, formerly an executive at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.
  • Revenue for Soccer Shots last year was around $67.5 million, up from $31 million during the depth of the pandemic in 2020, Bredeman said.
  • “That was encouragement to us that we’re back on track and then some,” Bredeman said of the rebound.
  • The three owners started looking for an outside partner before the pandemic, he added.
  • The firm invests in a variety of sectors, including business services, health care and industrial technology.
  • It also has invested in franchisors College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving, home services company Premium Service Brands and Authority Franchise Systems, which operates the Mosquito Authority and Pest Authority brands.

What’s Susquehanna: Launched in 2016, the private equity firm is funded by the founders of Susquehanna International Group, a privately held financial services company based in Bala Cynwyd.

  • The firm invests in a variety of sectors, including business services, health care and industrial technology.
  • It also has invested in franchisors College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving, home services company Premium Service Brands and Authority Franchise Systems, which operates the Mosquito Authority and Pest Authority brands.

(Disclosure: The spouse of biznewsPA editor Joel Berg works at Soccer Shots)

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