I had the chance to sit down with Coach Greg of Tennis Time in Atlanta, Georgia to discuss how he started his business and how Lendio helped him get the financing he needed to expand. Coach Greg has built a business that combines his passion for tennis and his love for an active lifestyle. Coach Greg helps kids in Atlanta, Georgia stay active, set goals, and learn to play the sport of tennis.
One of my favorite quotes from the interview is “I mean it was really that simple. It wasn’t complicated. It happened quickly. And the nice thing for me as I’ve been able to look at this relationship with the lender going forward is this is a relationship, honestly, we can keep in place for years to come if we need it.”
You can watch my Google+ Hangout interview with Coach Greg below.
Tennis Time, Atlanta, Georgia Small Business Loan Success Story Transcription:
BURKE ALDER: Today I’m here with Tennis Time, Coach Greg from Atlanta, Georgia. Welcome.
GREG: Thank you very much. Great to be with you guys.
BURKE ALDER: I have a love for tennis so it’s cool to talk with a tennis pro out there that is making a big impact. So, why don’t you tell us about why you started your business?
GREG: Absolutely. You know, I have been playing tennis since I was 13. Growing up in New York, I’m in Atlanta now of course, but we used to play every sport imaginable. I got into tennis at age 13 and I ended up playing on a NCAA Division 1 scholarship in college and taught tennis from a very young age too. Since I was 19 or 20 I’ve also been teaching tennis. I have been what most people know as a traditional tennis coach or tennis pro for a number of years., and had kids, two older girls who I got involved with the sport as well.
Atlanta is actually the number one tennis town in the country so it’s really exciting to be part of tennis in this town. But one of the ladies I was coaching asked me if I could coach her son and I coach a lot of kids and that was a great idea but we could never quite coordinate schedules. And one day she said I think you should talk to my son’s preschool director. And I said, “Great! Why?” And she said, well they run a soccer program there for after school kids and I think they would really like a tennis program. You should go run one there. I thought it was a pretty cool concept. Her son was about the same age as my son. I went and talked to the director. She was really excited about it. She thought the parents would be really into it. And I thought, you know, this is kind of cool. I love working with kids. I coach a lot of them in my private life but here’s an opportunity to coach them at school.
It just so happens that the USTA a number years back created what they call A Quick Start Tennis Program which in short essentially enables kids to learn with age appropriate kid friendly equipments. Smaller rackets, lightweight low compression foam balls and miniature nets. And I thought this was really cool. So initially I thought this could be a great opportunity to teach her son. And I went and talked to the director and she was all about it and we set it up and before I knew it I had over 35 kids at that school that wanted to take the kids tennis class for me. And I thought, huh. So then I went and talk to my son’s preschool director. She loved the idea. And before I knew it, I had those two schools and one other school that somehow heard about me already and wanted to have the kids’ tennis program in their school. So I had three schools that I was managing. And that was sort of the beginning stage of tennis time back about 5 years ago.
The business concept has exploded not only here but we got over 60 schools now here in the Atlanta market. About a year ago, we also added kid’s golf. So we have tennis time and golf time now. We’ve opened up a school in Southern California and one in Orlando Florida and it’s just taken off all over because of the love of the sport that these kids have. The ability to teach them on site at their school so that their parents don’t have to slip out of work and rush and take their kids to a facility is great. The cool thing is we could start with the kids really young. We actually started age 3 and we could go up to age 12 but that’s kind of how it started.
BURKE ALDER: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, just to hear about your growth and hear your story those are always inspiring. Was there something that really kind of inspires you as you run your business?
GREG: You know when it started initially, it was really about her son and my son and giving them the opportunity. I have three myself. And so as it’s grown, it’s amazing to see. We have about I’d say 18 full time coaches that work with us and these are people that come from all different walks of life. I’m talking about doctors, lawyers, actors, white collar, blue collar and they’ve given up so that they could put on their shorts and work with us and with the kids.
You should see how being around the kids transform these otherwise “professional men and women.” It’s really all about the kids being able to instill in them you know good work habits if you will. The ability to fall in love with the sport. I believe that you can play for you know tennis and golf, two of our main sports are the ones that you could really play for a lifetime. And the other thing that’s really a motivation factor is that, you know, I have experienced this with my own kids. If you notice – most people notice with if they’re seeing kids or they have kids. A lot of kids these days are addicted to these smartphones right and the tablets and then they’d rather just sit around and not rather be active. And as a result, we do have unfortunately the child obesity epidemic. Now we have both these two great sports where we’re able to get kids moving and active and busy and enjoying something even at an early age. We’re really indirectly helping to fight child obesity. That’s become a driving motivation for all of us, all the coaches and myself. As we grow this thing, it’s keeping kids moving and active, fighting that unfortunate epidemic. Getting their brains and their bodies involved and moving and staying active and also learning these great sports. Building the muscle memory to know how to swing, a forehand, a backhand, or a volley or a chip at such an early age and then hopefully instill in them the love of the sport are all motivating factors for us in this really cool fun business. But I think the biggest one is just getting to put on our shorts every day. That’s kind of how I want to live, that’s really kind of fun.
BURKE ALDER: Yeah. You know, it’ll be cool you know when some of us are on our shirts and ties and you’re out there in your shorts. Very inspiring. I love what you’re doing there. Tell me about why you went out to look for financing.
GREG: Yeah. You know there’s so much demand for what we’re doing and a lot of it was really unexpected. I mean, people just really love this and the schools wanted it. So in order to help us sort of keep up with the demand and continue to grow and add more coaches and have more schools and put it in different locations, and so to be able to have all the cool equipment that we need for the classes. You know, it came to the point where we were like, you know we need to get some funding and do this the right way. And you know we’ve been blessed and fortunate to be able to hook up with you guys and get funding to enable us to facilitate that growth. It’s been an amazing experience number one. But – that’s sort of the driving force behind it. We don’t want to leave kids at the school that wanted the class but we can’t come do it because of the equipment. We want to be able to keep up with the demand and the ability to expand this thing.
BURKE ALDER: Like you mentioned earlier, those small businesses out there, they’re making an impact. And you know want to hire more coaches, you know the equipment, so that’s a great reason why. So tell me a little bit about your experience with Lendio as you went through that process.
GREG: I mean it was – I literally was blown away. I mean it was so simple. All I did really was I started out with an internet search. I found Lendio. I was able to input some data. Next thing I know, I was put in touch with the lenders, and I honestly believe that it was probably about a 2 or 3-day process. It was really fast. You know, I was able to get some paperwork and some documents on the business that the lender needed. And next thing we know, we have the funds. I mean it was really that simple. It wasn’t complicated. It happened quickly. And the nice thing for me as I’ve been able to look at this relationship with the lender going forward is this is a relationship, honestly, we can keep in place for years to come if we need it. That started obviously at a certain initial level. As you show them that you are able to in a traditional sense I suppose you know continue to work with them and make payments and they’re happy to continue expanding the ability to fund your business. So the process was fantastic, simple, not complicated. If there are small business owners out there, they’re looking for capital, for whatever their reasons are for their business, I highly recommend day-to-day partnering with Lendio and the related services because it’s been phenomenal for us.
BURKE ALDER: That’s great. Thanks for giving us a little insight into our experience. We love that we make it simple and we were helping you grow your business, helping you achieve all those things. So I really appreciate your time today that we had here with Tennis Time. Coach Greg, he’s making a huge impact on the United States. Thank you very much for your time today.
GREG: Absolutely. My pleasure and for everyone out there looking to get these great program in your schools, check out the website tennistime.biz. We’d love to work with you.
BURKE ALDER: Thank you very much. Have a great day.
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