Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Top Tier Lessons is an online platform designed for student athletes to make money, on their own terms, doing the sport they love. Top Tier Lessons connects student athletes with parents in the local community looking for lessons and we will be launching this spring as both an app and a website. Our process is incredibly simple. A student athlete is able to go onto the site, sign up and list their time availability similar to how you fill out a when2meet. Parents are then able to go onto the site and browse the selection of student athletes in their area and book a time slot and lesson through the site. The venue is either chosen by the parent or we suggest one in the area. We handle the venue, payment and scheduling.

Meet our founder: Cara Bognar

Cara is a bioengineer on paper, a student athlete in her free time and an entrepreneur. She learned to swim before she could walk and hasn’t gotten out of the water since. She is now a team captain of the University of Illinois swim team working to help inspire the future generation of athletes. She founded Top Tier Lessons to do exactly that. Cara’s biggest goal in life is to help inspire and lead others, especially women in entrepreneurship to speak out for themselves and their ideas.

When you think of college students, “broke” is a commonly associated word. College student athletes are the exact same way, the only difference is their demanding schedule prevents them from working a regular job. Top Tier Lessons solves this problem by giving student athletes the opportunity to make money in a way that adheres to their busy schedule and allows them the flexibility to set their own hours week-to-week. At an average salary of $40/hour, we have had 96% of athletes interviewed commit to signing up to teach lessons on our platform. For parents, the current ways to find private lessons are to either pay top dollar for a professional coach or find a connection through your brother’s friend’s dog walker who might know someone who teaches lessons in the sport you are looking for. You then need to text back and forth, find a time that works for both of you and remember to venmo them or bring cash each time. Top Tier Lessons solves this problem by creating an affordable and convenient booking platform that does not sacrifice the quality and experience of coaches. All scheduling, payment and venue setup is handled through the site and parents have access to an extensive network of D1 athlete coaches to book lessons with.