Alan Arlt, Founder of Ultimate Hoops

Alan Arlt is the founder of Ultimate Hoops,which has been purchased by Lifetime Fitness. He has well over 20 years of success in sports advertising, fitness and the health & wellness industries. Ultimate Hoops is the first national recreational sports program that is growing in customer base and revenue. Let's take a look at this unique league.


Alan, thanks for taking the time to talk here at VC Direct. No doubt you are man of
great vision. Ultimate Hoops is a great of example of vision. It was then sold to
Lifetime Fitness. Before we get to see how this came to pass, let’s get to know you a
bit. Tell us about yourself and how you got the ball rolling with Ultimate Hoops?

I’ve always been obsessed with the game of basketball. Every inch of it. As a kid, I played and watched basketball almost every day. At night, I’d read all the box scores and study the stats and NBA league leaders. I fell in love with the data around basketball at a young age. to call me a basketball nerd is putting it mildly.
 

My childhood passion came to manifest itself when I saw a massive opportunity in
recreational sports marketplace to treat Average Joes like Pros. There are only 300 players
who make it to the NBA but millions, like me, who wanted to be treated like a professional. I
played in all the recreational basketball leagues I could find when I lived in New York City.
Nothing matched the vision I had in my head. So, I said, why don’t I just build this myself?

 

So passion seems to have been with you from the onset. Recreational sports has been
around, but you really took it to the next level. How much push back did you receive
in the “early days” of Ultimate Hoops; since you were changing the recreational sports
landscape?

My thesis was there are other recreational players who were searching for the same
professional experience I was. Luckily, I was right. Instead of receiving pushback, I was encouraged to push my ambitions even farther by our first customers.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many of them volunteered to help me take Ultimate Hoops to the next level.
What we were doing resonated immediately and we grew fast.It felt like a special club to be a part of. Before it was on trend to build a community around your business, we were doing it: organically and authentically by always working on improving the experience on court and online.

 

Let’s discuss the Lifetime Fitness deal. Can you share with us how that came about? (in
as much detail that you can discuss).

We were in business for 18 months when Life Time reached out to us regarding an
acquisition. After meeting with Life Time Founder, Chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi, we
both believed the mission and vision of Ultimate Hoops was in lock and step with where
Bahram wanted to take Life Time in the future. Life Time’s professional-quality courts and world-class healthy way of life destinations is the perfect complement to our brand promise of treating all players like professionals. We’ve been a part of Life Time for 10 years now and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to 
accomplish together.
 

I was reading about what Ultimate Hoops is doing with retired athletes. Tell us more
about this program, it seems exciting.

Our ‘Never Retire’ mission is to keep players of all ages in the game of basketball. It can come to life in multiple forms: playing, coaching, training or sharing knowledge and life experiences. We saw an opportunity with the National Retired Players Association and other organizations to give their members a platform to continue a career in basketball after their playing days are over. It’s an initiative which continues to evolve and I’m excited to see where it leads.
 

Alan, you have truly built a business with purpose and passion. Many have the same
desire to do so. If there is one piece of advice you would give to a sports startup, what
would that be?

Be different. The recreational sports market is highly fragmented and diffuse. You need to
stand out. Always put the customer experience first. It can be as simple as greeting every one
of your customers by name when they arrive for a league game. It may seem like an
insignificant touch point, but I’ve found the small details make all the difference.

Ok Alan, you can draft your all time starting five basketball team. Who is on your squad?

I love this game. Let’s go with Kareem, Dennis Rodman, MJ, Lebron and Magic. I think we’d
be tough to beat…and fun to watch.

Alan, how can people get involved with Ultimate Hoops; and how can they contact
you directly?

To learn more about Ultimate Hoops, go to uhlife.com or follow us on social @ultimatehoops.
I’m also active on twitter and Instagram @alanarlt. You can contact me directly via
alanarlt.com
.

It has been a pleasure Alan. All the best in your endeavors.

  *Interview conducted by Sanford Ashley. He can be reached at sanford@vcdirect.co

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