Peter Robert Casey builds and grows online sports communities.
Over the past five years, he’s held community strategy and management roles – both agency and client-side – for some of the biggest brand names in sports: Nike Basketball, Nike Baseball, Nike Athletic Training, the New York Knicks and Five-Star Basketball, where he currently helms the company’s digital efforts.
A self-confessed hoops junkie, Peter was the first media-credentialed microblogger in college and NBA history – a story covered in the New York Times, ESPN, Mashable, and Sports Illustrated – and last fall attended “30 games in 30 days” at every NBA arena to launch his Basketball Passport website.
He survived to tell his story, and happily resides in the northwest corner of the Bronx with his wife Martina. We caught up with Pete so that he could give us some tips on how he has built a reputation as a go-to guy for smart thought, especially in and around hoops.
You have had what can be described as a nice entrepreneurial run, what has been your proudest moment professionally?
For every sports property that I’ve worked for full-time – the New York Knicks, Five-Star Basketball and Team Epiphany (on the Nike Basketball account) – I’ve been able to continue working with them in a freelance or project-based capacity after leaving. It’s not a moment, per se, but it’s a testament to repeatedly over-delivering on expectations, building solid relationships and doing the right thing. I’m most proud of that.
What was the toughest time where didn’t think you were going to be able to make the next step?
There have been some scary times – watching our bank account dwindle to $200 at one point and covering a mortgage and rent in two different states – but I never doubted making the next step. I owe a lot of that to faith, but self-belief is crucial to conquering your comfort zone.
Who is the person, professionally, that you look to the most for inspiration?
It’s a tie. Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin. They’re constantly shipping and sharing advice, and they always stay true to their DNA.
The Passport platform has gotten great buzz, what’s the best anecdote you have heard from people who have used it thus far?
A few fathers told me they’ve created accounts for their young sons so they can track their journeys and preserve their memories together. I thought that was pretty special.
When you went on your “30 Games, 30 day” run, what was the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise was seeing how generous people are. On Sunday, December 1, I showed up in Los Angeles with two bags and no tickets, and had two games to attend that day: A Clippers-Pacers matinee matchup and Lakers-Blazers evening tilt.
A buddy of mine was flying out from NYC to attend both games with me and rightfully assumed I had the ticket situation all taken care of; well, I didn’t. So I went into scramble mode. A friend-of-a-friend of Matt Barnes’ barber [don’t ask] was able to score a last-minute pair from Matt himself, who showed up to the arena late as a DNP [retinal tear in his left eye]. Result? Fifth row from the floor.
Later that afternoon, while sipping coffee and sharing stories with local hoops bloggers, I started panicking about Lakers tickets. Then my phone vibrated. It was a surprise email from the owner of VIPTickets.com, who had read about my journey online, and wanted to *donate* a very special pair of tickets for me. I’ll let these photos sum up the rest of the story.
Have you stayed in touch with many of the people you met along the way, and who has been the most loyal supporter?
There are too many kind people to single out just one, but I’ll say the folks from the Warriors, Timberwolves, Suns, Bucks, Cavs and Celtics took generosity and support to a whole ‘nother level.
You are now part of the senior leadership at Five Star, where do you think the brand has its best chance for success?
Staying true to Five-Star’s roots – delivering the best basketball instruction and inspiration – but doing it in a way that resonates with the next generation of players: On-court, on mobile, and on social.
Now that you have started several businesses, what do you think is the biggest barrier for success for people on their own?
Fear. Fear of criticism and fear of being judged. That probably holds back over 90% of people from ever starting. After starting, the biggest barriers are not focusing on cash flow and quitting before you get where you want to be.
Who gave you the best advice?
There’s an old Steve Jobs/Apple Computer saying: “Real artists ship.” I wish I got it directly from Steve.
Looking back, what is the one thing you would do differently in the path you had so far?
I would’ve taken more risks sooner.