Alum's startup takes new approach to athletic recruiting

January 13, 2021

Spider Pride

Alum Jarmal Bevels and his startup cofounders have developed a way to match high school athletes and college recruiters by using an approach that borrows from online dating tech.

Bevels, the company’s creative director, is a 2018 Spider grad who played wide receiver on Richmond’s football team. His company, called SEQL (for sports equality), is aimed at potential college athletes who might not be heavily recruited through traditional means. 

 “We see ourselves like the dating app Tinder in a sense because we are connecting students with recruiters or coaches and bridging that relationship between them,” Bevels said.  

Athletes can create a profile and gain access to email addresses and phone numbers for more than 61,000 coaches across the country, as well as admissions requirements and athletic program information.

“The business has catapulted during COVID since a lot of these kids had to do virtual visits,” Bevels said. Video conference calls are available through the platform enabling coaches to show users the locker room, for example.

Last year’s growth also led Bevels and his team to outsource marketing and sign professional athletes as brand ambassadors.

“We just signed Quinn Cook, a two-time NBA champ, and DeAndre Hopkins, a starting wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals,” Bevels said. They’ve also brought on Richmond-native Megan Walker, the WNBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2020. The UR connection runs deeper with the addition of Nancy Lieberman, a former WNBA player and Olympic gold medalist who is the first woman ever to become head coach of a men’s professional team in any sport — as well as the mom of former Spider basketball star T.J. Cline, who graduated in 2017.

Bevels’ penchant for entrepreneurship is rooted in his time spent at UR and a few mentors along the way. After taking a business communications class and learning to write pitches, Bevels said he and his friends came up with an idea for a business. He connected with Jim Brady, a 1985 UR graduate, and although the first idea didn’t come to fruition, Bevels said Brady put him on the entrepreneurial path and has become an advisor to Bevels’ current business. 

“When you get to campus, it just breeds the drive to want to succeed,” he said. “No matter which school — the B-school, Jepson, Gottwald — you are around a bunch of intelligent young people who are there for a reason.” Bevels also earned a master’s degree in human resource management in 2020. 

Looking ahead, Bevels said he wants to have the SEQL app available on the App Store in 2021. The service is currently web based, but the team is in the beta stages of the app’s development.