Growing up, business owner Alex Hariz had a passion for basketball.
“As a kid, I never had gym space to play in. We just played in the park. If we did play in the gym, we would have to sneak in,” he tells us.
The game was important to Hariz, giving him a taste of teamwork, discipline, communication skills, and confidence. He never forgot those early experiences, which led him to become the most valuable player at Mission San Jose High School and play collegiate basketball for TCI College in New York City.
After graduating from UC Berkeley as an economics major, he knew he wanted to help provide the same formative character building to today’s youth. His inspiration led him to create HoopSphere Basketball Academy, a year-round, comprehensive, structured program for boys and girls ages four through 17.
At HoopSphere, kids learn basketball fundamentals like footwork and ball handling. However, they also develop the essential life skills that will help them achieve a rich and meaningful future. Along with his business partner, Venkat Narasimhan, also known as ‘Coach V’, Hariz has helped hundreds of families through HoopSphere programs.
After six and a half years of running the program, Hariz and Narasimhan felt they needed to take their efforts to the next level.
Since the beginning, HoopSphere had found its place by renting basketball courts, often in local schools. It was working – the program had stellar reviews – but it was a cap on growth that they both knew had to change.
“It’s great that schools are available for rent, but you have to build relationships with schools to pull that off,” explains Hariz. “You have to work around their schedules and their teams, and deal with cancellations and holiday closures.”
The solution? Buying their facility with the SBA 504 Loan Program from TMC Financing.
HoopSphere’s brand and business were as solid as a rock, but the environment around it seemed to be pushing against Hariz’s goals. When COVID-19 struck, the company was put on pause for eight months. It was impossible to ensure safety or find space to rent.
This led the partners to re-evaluate and take action.
They wanted a facility that met HoopSphere’s needs now and down the road. Parents would appreciate a convenient, consistent location, and the owners could focus on quality programs instead of logistics. But like so many small business owners, they weren’t quite sure where to start.
“We were pretty ignorant about loans,” Hariz recalls. “We didn’t know anything.”
Luckily, they connected with Bruce Whitaker, senior vice president of business development at TMC Financing, who told them all about the SBA 504 Program. Together, they determined it was the best financing option for HoopSphere.
“The SBA 504 Loan Program helps businesses purchase or construct commercial real estate with 10 percent down and below-market interest rates that are fixed for 25 years,” states Whitaker. “This puts building ownership within reach for many small business owners that didn’t think they could afford to buy a building.”
By utilizing the SBA 504 Program, Whitaker and the TMC Financing team were able to help HoopSphere obtain 90 percent financing to purchase a facility and make necessary renovations, which amounted to $7 million in total project costs.
“The SBA 504 rates are a lot better for small businesses like us to get our payments down,” says Hariz. Plus, “TMC Financing was very professional, very responsive.” Summing up the experience in one word, he didn’t have to stop and think: “Awesome,” he says with a smile.
Having three full basketball courts has made a tremendous difference in what Hariz, Narasimhan, and their coaches can do for the kids in their programs.
“The quality of training is a lot better. Having everything in one place lets us oversee the whole process and build stronger relationships with the kids. The consistency of just one location that is always available has helped tremendously. To have our own space to now give back to the community is absolutely amazing.”
HoopSphere also qualified for an eight-month loan deferral program, helping their cash flow during a difficult time. Now, the future looks bright for HoopSphere and the kids it serves.
“Purchasing our own space through the SBA 504 Program has been instrumental in helping us achieve our dreams,” states Narasimhan. “We’re blessed to have that help from TMC Financing.”
Contact TMC Financing to find out more about the SBA 504 Loan Program.