TapIn co-founder and CEO Steve Schechter was born in Boston, but it was the cobble stoned streets of Rome where he developed his love of the beautiful game.
“I spent most of my childhood years in Wellesley, MA,” Steve explains. “However, every five years, my family moved to Rome for a year as my dad took sabbaticals, and my mom owned her own business. In 1972, on our first year abroad, my older brother went to a soccer academy, and as a two year old, I toddled around with a plastic ball. I also remember going to some A.S. Roma games with my family on weekends.”
Steve then spent the next five years in Wellesley playing the game with childhood friends in backyards until he was old enough to join a town league. In 1977 and 1982, he got the chance to return to Rome.
“My brother Andy and I, would play soccer in the streets with the Italian boys in our neighborhood. This served as a foundation for becoming a player. On Sundays, we frequently went to the Stadio Olimpico where A.S. Roma played and watched the likes of Bruno Conti and Agostino di Bartolomei and later on, Falcao,” says Steve. “It was a football education like no other involving sticker books, watching games in cafes and learning songs with bad words that other fans would sing on the Curva Sud (a famous section of seats where the rabid Roma fans went wild).”
When Steve returned and started high school at the Rivers School he played for the team and played for his town. He was also selected to play for the state select team, before going on to play collegiately at Clark University, alongside his brother. An impressive four year career at Clark saw him start each match over the 4 years, captain the team as a senior, and earn academic All-America recognition in his senior year.
Following college, Steve worked at a sports store in Watertown before moving to Atlanta in 1996. It was in Georgia where he and a close friend started an online marketplace website called Exchange Boulevard which achieved a market cap of $100M at one point prior to the 2008 Economic crash. Following Steve’s successful exit from the business, he moved back to Boston with his wife Julie and son Alex.
“I knew that I wanted to do something that had meaning, that would positively impact people’s lives and that I could excel at as well as enjoy. So, I started coaching and volunteering to support disadvantaged kids from underserved communities over the next two or three years,” said Steve. “I became a senior staff coach at Global Premier Soccer, one of the largest youth clubs in North America.”
During this time Steve developed a close friendship TapIn co-founder Pedro Herivaux. The two met as teammates on an over-40s soccer team and later Pedro served as an assistant to Steve when he coached at Beaver Country Day School.
After the major earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Pedro and Steve decided to travel there and provided free soccer clinics, delivered equipment; balls, cleats, shoes, and provided food for kids literally did not have homes or families in the Port-au-Prince area.
“I fell in love with this work and I became the President of a non-profit called the GPS Foundation. Our mission was to create educational and soccer playing opportunities for kids both domestically and in developing countries,” says Steve. “Through this I also I got the opportunity to travel to several other developing nations across Africa.”
“Pedro and I came to the realization that all of these kids absolutely loved the game and when we did clinics we found there was incredible talent but these kids did not have any organized leagues. No youth soccer infrastructure, no tournaments, and no competition of any kind existed. We also learned through the football federation, that they had no clear means of identifying talent within the country. Our connection to the federation was through Pedro’s son, Zachary, who plays for the Haitian National team. We realized the same problems existed in many of the other countries that we visited. This led to a mind boggling conclusion that there are some 200 million kids who want to play soccer who simply don’t have access to it.
From there, an idea was born. Lets bring youth soccer leagues to these kids. We created a platform for children to finally have the opportunity to participate in the game they love. In North America, it seems foreign to us that kids would not have local youth leagues, but simply put, the infrastructure did not exist until now. In the first few countries that we have launched our solution in, soccer Federations have enthusiastically supported the venture because they saw a great way to find talented players from a pool of kids who before had no access to develop their skills.
The timing of this new platform and the explosive growth of smartphone ownership in these developing countries was perfect. Based on our knowledge as parents of youth soccer players, coaches, administrators and world travelers who knew the game, we felt that an end-to-end solution that took all the headaches away from managing youth leagues would be a success.
Seven months ago TapIn Mobile Solutions was born.”
In those seven months, significant progress has been made. The TapIn app has been launched and is now available on Google Play and the Apple App store. Partnerships have been established with the Haitian and Ugandan football federations with league registration recently opening. Although this growth is dramatic Steve is not resting on his laurels.
“We’ve made incredible progress in 2019 and we look forward to the first balls being kicked in TapIn Leagues in 2020,” said Steve. “My dream is for TapIn to become the World’s Premier Brand in Mobile Youth Sports technology and enable millions of young boys and girls to participate in the game Worldwide, connecting talent with opportunity regardless of where you are from,” said Steve.