GLENVIEW, IL — Arman Patel believes sports played a very impactful role in his childhood. A junior at Glenbrook South High School, the 16-year-old is the founder of KickBuds, a student-run organization working to connect young aspiring athletes between the ages of 8–15 with elite college and high school level student-athletes.
“Sports have given me an outlet for stressful times, a chance to meet lifelong friends, and a fun way to exercise,” Patel told Patch.
Through KickBuds, parents can purchase one-on-one private coaching lessons with local skilled student-athletes for their children. While Patel played basketball, soccer, baseball and football during his youth, the idea for the company came while competing for the varsity golf team at GBS.
“[While playing varsity golf the last two years] I saw the influence of wealth on success in high school athletics,” Patel said. “The high-income schools seemed to win tournament after tournament. Meanwhile, the low-income schools seemed to come in last, tournament after tournament. The correlation was indisputable.”
While appreciating the opportunities sports have been able to provide for himself, Patel said he found the disparity “disheartening” with income being a determining factor in how much a child can participate in sports.
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In the summer of 2020, Patel decided to start KickBuds. He said that during that time, his sister, Ariya, and her friend, Chris, were offering private tennis lessons to children in the North Shore area.
“They marketed their services by making a simple post on local threads and got numerous leads within the first week,” Patel said. “Both Ariya and Chris were making considerably more money than their peers and were working fewer hours.”
Patel began researching why this was the case and said he came to the realization that varsity student-athletes were being largely underpaid for their skills, and children who were eager to advance their tennis ability had very few private, accessible, and affordable coaching options.
“Many children, also, don’t have the privilege of working besides a coach who has recently played on the varsity team at their unique high school,” Patel said. “It was then that I had the idea for the 1-on-1 coaching marketplace for kids [through] KickBuds.”
Andy Ko services as director of fundraising for KickBuds. Yash Ghai is the director of graphic design.
When telling people about the company, especially fellow athletes, Patel said the response has been very positive.
“All athletes are well aware of the problem that KickBuds is tackling, and they all offer to help in any way they can,” Patel said. “When parents hear about KickBuds, they feel relieved knowing they can connect their child with a coach who is attending their high school.”
The young entrepreneur said he also receives a fair amount of negativity and doubt, mostly because of his age and people thinking the company might be lacking in overall resources. Patel said he mostly ignores those types of things and is careful about who he discusses KickBuds with.
In addition to Glenview, Kickbuds currently offers service in Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Riverwoods, Skokie, Wilmette and Winnetka.
“As of now, KickBuds only offers soccer coaching in The North Shore area. However, the ultimate goal of KickBuds is to expand nationwide and offer coaching for all major sports,” Patel said.
Patel said the company also wants to supplement its impact through a variety of fundraisers, including a March Madness Charity Bracelet and a 5K Race for charity, planned for this summer.
“By 2026, KickBuds is striving to coach 2,000+ students and attain a coach database of 500+ coaches,” Patel said. “KickBuds hopes to be the official coaching platform for various sporting goods stores around the U.S.”