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Inspiring Conversations with Casey Trujeque of Sport Source

Today we’d like to introduce you to Casey Trujeque.

Hi Casey, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My story begins as a young child idolizing our home team hero, Kobe Bryant. Like many young boys who grew up in the 90’s, my one and only goal at the time was to make it to the NBA and be just like him. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that that feat is a lot harder than many people know or understand, especially standing at only 5’8 – the odds were truly stacked against me. However, through my dedication and work ethic, I became an extremely talented local HS athlete, winning state championships, league championships, becoming first team all league and getting recruited by several division one programs across the country. It was in my college years where I met a local trainer in the Marina by the name of Eric Redd that changed my life. His knowledge about the human body, our mechanics, and ability to prepare you for sport was second to none and I fell in love. Training for basketball no longer became just something I did aimlessly, but now something I was super intrigued about why and how I was doing certain movements and lifts.

I went on to major in human physiology and exercised science, however only to leave school in my junior year to start my very own training brand called All or Nothing Athletics. It was my mission to better prepare the youth for what I now knew the college recruiting and experience to be like. Coaches tell you one story while they are recruiting you, but once you step foot on campus, it’s a totally different ball game and I wanted to prepare my athletes the best I could for that transition.

Through my success with AON Athletics in Los Angeles, I was asked to move to Portland, Oregon in 2013 and be a full time live in trainer to one of their new draft picks Allen Crabbe. We worked out constantly as I did his on court skill development when he was not with the team, his strength and conditioning and worked hand in hand with his nutritionist and personal chef. That experience was amazing as I learned the true ins and outs of what it takes to be a professional athlete in the NBA.

Now, I am probably most notable for helping him go from a $2.6M contract to securing a $75 Million dollar four years deal in which through – I was featured in ESPN,, Yahoo Sports, NBC Sports and many other basketball media outlets for the growth I was stewarding. This is what I would say started me on my path to where I am today and why I started my company now, Sport Source.

I had been working with other professional athletes at the time between Portland and Los Angeles and the things we had to do to locate, find and rent a facility were absurd to me. I distinctly remember a few times working with former Los Angeles Laker Anthony Brown and having to leave back doors open to be able to find some time to get on a court. These types of scenarios always left me puzzled as it should never be that hard to have access to find and rent court time, especially if your resume consists of pro athletes. So I decided to take my matters into my own hands and still living in Portland, in 2016 I decided to open my own facility. I leased, remodeled and renovated a brand new 7500 sq. ft basketball facility in Portland, Oregon in which I thought would be the answer to all of these issues, but it turned out it wasn’t. What I ended up learning through trying to diversify my revenue and make use of every hour that I wasn’t physically present on the basketball court was that it was equally as hard to reach prospective renters as well.

As I struggled as a young business owner, it was through my own personal hardship that I birthed the idea of an “Airbnb for Sports” type platform. I was actually in tears, speaking to my sister (as we are really close), asking her for ideas for ways I could bring in more revenue and she suggested listing my gym on a platform I had never heard about, so people can rent it out. I went to their website and thought, “this is the worst idea ever” as this platform was mostly for business owners and companies looking to hold private meetings. No basketball teams, coaches or trainers were ever on here. Then I thought for a second, “thats it!” That’s it I explained to her, there’s nothing like this. For the last decade, I struggled with this problem on both sides – as a young trainer looking for court time to rent out and then as a gym owner trying to reach prospective renters. There was no platform for both sides to easily connect and coexist, but I will create it! It would be just like Airbnb, but instead of renting homes, athletes, coaches and the general public would be able to rent out sports spaces and places to do any physical activity of their choice! The idea for Sport Source was now in the research phase as I began reaching out to everyone I knew to see how they rented their facilities and if this problem was much bigger than just me.

At the time, in Portland I was training my now cofounder’s son and I began telling her (Molly Kline) a little of what I was up to trying to create. I had been in a very transitional phase of my life as I was working through the gym closing, transitioning from Portland back to Los Angeles and thinking about what and if this platform could really be a thing. Immediately she felt an instant connection to me and understood that my mission was to really help connect and look out for the youth – If I could provide more access and opportunity for sport and physical activity for the next phase of athletes, my mission would be complete. The more I learned about her and the more she helped organize my life, I knew that her business savvy, sickening work ethic, solution driven mindset and loving and caring nature was the exact fit I needed in someone to help me build this out. Molly today is what makes Sport Source run as she’s the operations to everything we do while I am more the visionary as to where we are going. I make the vision and she executes.

Fast forward a year and a half later, we are now testing our pilot phase of Sport Source in Portland, Oregon and have been live for about two and a half months now. We are currently in the middle of fundraising and have raised $650,000 of our $1M goal. We have about 25 rentable spaces on the platform in the Portland/Oregon area and have done about 58 hours of total bookings. For people that ask us now, Sport Source is a two ways platform that enables coaches, trainers, athletes and the general public to find convenient access for the sport or activity they love. If you can play, move, train, or exercise in a space, you can find it on our platform. Oppositely, as a host, it is free to list your gym, court, studio, backyard basketball court or pool on the platform and watch your downtime turn into dollars.

It is my hope that in 2022 after the proper funding and research has been conducted that I could take my idea back to my hometown of Los Angeles and provide this truly needed platform to the best city in the world. I know how serious we take our sports out there and to be able to provide a tool that can just make everyone’s life a little bit easier would be magical.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The road has not been smooth. Coming from a sports and business world, my cofounder and I have never started or been involved in tech, so we were extremely green to the ins and outs of dealing with dev teams, fundraising money and everything that goes into starting a two ways platform. As you can imagine, we were learning everything on the fly and that came with many mistakes. One of the major issues or struggles, I would say and I’m sure many other founders would say is fundraising for money. Being a minority and female-owned company as well, we are already at odds being that they typically only get around 3% of total VC backed finances- but finding the right investors, people that see the mission and understand the roadblocks early on is definitely something we deal with on a daily basis. We are such a new platform, trying to change the way consumers and renters do business now that it takes some time to teach and change behavior.

However, once we reach market penetration and the social effect takes place where every gym owner tells other gym owners or athletes and coaches know Sport Source is a reliable platform to find access to facilities, I know people will be running to us to invest in the mission.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Sport Source is an iOS mobile app platform. Users explore a simple interface that allows them to quickly filter by activity, date, amenities, proximity, photos and reviews. Once a booking is confirmed, users and hosts can interact on the platform through a chat feature, and all payment transactions occur through the platform. On the host side, facilities can create listings on the platform by uploading photos, amenity information and can customize their own calendar, rules, and cost structure.

This technology helps users save time making phone calls, sending emails, and hunting down leads on space availability- giving them more time to focus on their teams and clients. It also gives them a vast database of spaces for last minute and recurring bookings.

Sports have been left out of the shared economy. Despite the exponential growth of the fitness industry and millions of places to play, there are no significant platforms bridging the gap between the two. Users must find and book a facility on their own by inconvenient and antiquated methods (leaving messages with front desk staff, emailing the facility hoping it gets to the scheduler, dropping by in person). Further complicating this problem is the reality that most large corporate facilities typically do not rent space to non-members and people often simply lack the knowledge to find new space options.

Hosts and space owners lack financial resources, time, or tools to advertise their spaces to the masses. Sport Source provides the host an opportunity to create an affordable advertising and booking solution, simplifying their business while providing them with new revenue opportunities.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
Being from Los Angeles, everyone says they like the culture the best, which seems cliche, but I think it isn’t until you have lived away from the city until you could truly appreciate the culture of Los Angeles for what it is. I live in Mid City so I have the best of all worlds at my fingertips. I can head to Earles on Crenshaw, Santa Monica Blvd, or party in Hollywood all within a 15 min drive and see people from every walk of life, you just don’t get that anywhere else I love every second of it.

Least, I would say our homelessness. I think there has to be a way to better provide and help to serve them. As I get older, this issue seems to be more and more prevalent around the city.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Amith Wijesuriya

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