After A 7-Figure Exit, I Launched An Online Directory To Find Coaches

Published: November 19th, 2022
Laura Roeder
Founder, CoachCompare
from Brighton, UK
started September 2022
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I’m Laura Roeder and I’ve founded a few SaaS companies including MeetEdgar and Paperbell. CoachCompare is the first directory product I’ve ever done.

CoachCompare is an online directory for clients to find coaches. The most popular type of coach on our site is a life coach, followed by various kinds of business coaches. Accountability coaches and work-life balance coaches are also very popular categories!

CoachCompare is currently free for both coaches and clients. We have over 2,000 coaches signed up for CoachCompare so far!


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My other business, Paperbell is a SaaS for running an online coaching business.

I launched Paperbell after experiencing the need myself first-hand. I had taken myself out of the day-to-day of my other business MeetEdgar and was offering business coaching while I figured out what my next move would be. I assumed a tool already existed to easily sell a schedule of a package of coaching sessions. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for I decided to build it, and Paperbell was born!

When improving Paperbell, I’m always thinking about the biggest problems our customers face and how we can help to solve them.

For coaches like any small business, finding clients is always at the top of the list. They need a steady flow of high-quality leads to make their business work. So I started looking around at the landscape. How are coaches finding clients now? Is this process efficient? Is there a better way?

When I took a deep dive into the ecosystem, I was surprised to find there was not a high-quality, go-to directory site for coaches. The sites out there were dated, and limited, and all of them were based on geography above specialty. Clients now want to work with their coach online, and they’re looking for a coach who specializes in helping them (for example, an ADD coach for entrepreneurs), not someone who happens to live in their local area.

That’s how the idea was born - I could create a remote-first, specialty-based directory for clients to find coaches that would address a hole in the ecosystem and solve a major pain point for coaches.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

When designing the product we had two competing needs. One, the budget had to be small as this was only a side project. But two, there was no point in embarking on this if it wasn’t going to be the best directory out there. We weren’t aiming to create just another directory, we were aiming to create the go-to directory that every coach will join when they launch their business.

My co-founder is a back-end developer, so he contributed his time for free. I worked on the specs of what would be included in the profiles based on my in-depth knowledge of the coaching industry. This site needed to be specific for coaches and include details like coaching certifications.

We hired a designer to make the site look professional and appealing from day one, and hired an SEO consultant to make sure that the site was structurally optimized for search as this would be the main driver of growth long-term.

Even if you just have a landing page describing your idea, put it out there and start connecting with your community online.

Describe the process of launching the business.

CoachCompare is a double-sided marketplace - which is well-known as one of the most difficult types of businesses to launch!

I felt it was a challenge we could take on because we had already built up one-half of the marketplace, the coaches, via our SaaS Paperbell. I suspected we needed the coaches before the clients. A client who comes to a directory without much on it will find no value. Whereas for the coach, it can be worth taking a few minutes to set up a profile on a site that doesn’t have clients yet in the hopes that their profile will bring clients down the road.

We started by emailing a cohort of customers to initially seed the site with real users. A blank slate always looks bad, but we had built up enough trust with these customers to make them want to make a small time investment that could pay off in the future. And from there it’s a bit of a snowball effect - the more coaches you have on the site, the more other coaches feel like they’re missing out.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

So far we have been gradually building up our database of coaches from our Paperbell audience. We plan to do more targeted activities in the future to get coaches to refer their friends.

For the client attraction side, we’re focused on an SEO strategy and getting the structure right from day one.

The main mistake I see in many new companies is not pursuing SEO from day one, or blogging but not making it SEO-focused. If you're going to take the time to create content, might as well put in a little bit extra to make sure it will show up in search.

For example, we launched the blog with an opt-in so that we can start to build an email list of coaching clients. We aren’t doing anything with this list yet, but it’s an asset we’re starting to build now.

SEO takes time, but we’re already seeing CoachCompare “on the board”.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Our vision is that the listing on CoachCompare will be on the “to-do” list of every coach when they’re looking to launch their online business. And that clients will know CoachCompare as the best site for finding a specialized coach.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The app is developed in Ruby On Rails, hosted at Heroku. The blog is WordPress, hosted at Kinsta. We use ClickUp for documentation and marketing task management, Pivotal Tracker for developer task management, and slack for internal communication.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Put your idea out there and talk to people about it. The worst thing to do is spend too much time in “building mode” without any feedback from real customers. Even if you just have a landing page describing your idea, put it out there and start connecting with your community online.

Where can we go to learn more?