Millyard-based startup TorchCo seeks to inspire future generations of athletes

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Matt Fornataro on a video on the TorchPro platform. Screenshot

MANCHESTER, NH – For anyone who’s wanted to get an on-demand behind-the-scenes look at the key moments behind various athletes’ journeys toward greatness, a Manchester-based company is ready to help.

TorchCo, a new sports media company based at the R.G. Sullivan Cigar Factory building in the Millyard, is looking to provide fans and young athletes unprecedented access to elite figures in the sporting world.

The company has received $1.5 million in startup capital, including financial assistance and other guidance, from York.IE, also located at the old Cigar Factory.

The company arose from the rebranding of Kompany39, founded by former NHL All-Star Joe Pavelski and University of New Hampshire/Manchester Monarchs alumnus Matt Fornataro.

Fornataro says the primary purpose of the company and its digital platform, TorchPro, stems from the name of the company itself: a desire to “pass the torch” from one generation of athletes to the next through digital storytelling.

“Our overarching goal with our athletes is to break down some of the barriers, show how they prepare and live off the ice or off the field,” says Fornataro, who also serves as the company’s CEO. “When you’re a young athlete, getting access to that information can be super-powerful, it can be important to learn. I wish there were things I knew at 14 that I learned when I was 36 and retired.”

In addition to helping young athletes, the platform also seeks to serve as a way for sports fans to get unfiltered access to the journeys of some of their favorite athletes as well as a way for athletes to learn techniques to craft their digital brand.

“For every professional athlete, there’s only one certainty: that (their career) will end at some point,” says TorchCo President and CRO Bryan Goodwin. “We talk a lot about this idea that the power is shifting to the player; in this new world you don’t need a TV camera to tell your story, you can do that with other digital channels. We’re allowing them to tell their story not just as a player, but as a person. That opens up opportunities for them after they’re done playing and a lot of them want to pass down that knowledge.”

The transition from Kompany39 to TorchCo was a clarification of sorts, comparable to the evolution from a version 1.0 to a version 2.0, with the new brand building upon the core idea with additional resources.

One of those resources was the acquisition of the Morning Blitz, a New York-based daily sports aggregation newsletter. Another is the hiring of Goodwin himself in January.

Goodwin, who also came on board as an advisor with York.IE in December, previously served as the senior vice president at Drizly, a gig-based alcohol delivery company.

While Goodwin sees similarities between the two companies in the way they are using technology to transform their respective industries, he also sees key differences as well

“I feel extremely fortunate, I wouldn’t have taken this role if I didn’t want to. I wanted to do something I was passionate about with people I respected and liked, and do something I could have a positive impact on,” says Goodwin. “(Here), instead of building a marketplace to change the way consumers purchase alcohol, we’re building a marketplace that hopefully will inspire millions of kids to be better and aspire to greatness.”

Currently, TorchPro is focusing on professional hockey players and female Olympic athletes.

“Right now, we need to make sure our hockey athletes are getting the services that we’re telling them they’re going to get, that we’re actually building the brand in a way that’s valuable to them, and that we can give content that consumers love,” says Goodwin.” If we can do that in hockey, we do feel that’s replicable or repeatable in other sports with other athletes.”