Alan Arlt is the Founder of Ultimate Hoops and Senior Director of Basketball Operations at Life Time Fitness.  In this interview, we talked about Alan’s career in New York as an ad executive and his experience of playing in leagues all across New York City. We also talked about his move back to Minnesota, where he had a vision as a young entrepreneur of bringing a professional level basketball experience to the recreational level, and what inspired him along his journey to creating the massive success that is Ultimate Hoops.

Alan also gave us the inside scoop on the legendary pickup games at Life Time Manhattan’s Sky location, featuring the likes of Lebron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Podcast Highlights

3:19 – Alan’s basketball background: “I was like most high school athletes who don’t go on playing in college. I was really distraught and depressed that my high school career ended and chased that feeling of playing in high school and being around my teammates and that sense of community.”

5:27 – Alan’s journey before founding Ultimate Hoops “I had an interview at Turner Broadcasting for an entry level job in advertising sales. I work from 8:00AM to 6:00PM at night, and then I spent 6:00PM to 11:00PM at night, figuring out what I was doing. I accepted a marketing sponsorship position at Discovery Network. I worked there for six years and just worked my way up the corporate ladder at Discovery. So I had some really good corporate experience that I gained prior to starting Ultimate Hoops that would prove to be very helpful when I started.”

8:22 – Motivation to create Ultimate Hoops: “I wanted to be like the pros. I wanted to wake up the next day and review my box scores, stats, and wanted to watch post-game interviews and to see power rankings come out during the week. Wanted to be able to trash talk with people online. So I just had the idea that there’s gotta be a better way, a better way to do this.”

“I lost both of my parents. Within a year of each other. My dad passed away on July 5th of 2001. And then I lost a buddy on 9/11 who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. So those three things really made me reassess what I want to do with my life and this Ultimate Hoops idea kept coming back into my mind.”

10:59 – Players loving the Ultimate Hoops experience: “They would write back and say, is this real? Are the stats real? Because at that time there was nothing really like that out there. And the biggest thing that helped it grow is just the word of mouth. Like people sending their boxed up box scores out. And then we grew rapidly. We went from 16 to 45 teams in less than a year.”

13:57 – Stats and post-game interviews: “I’m going to start doing post-game interviews. And I knew, two things are gonna happen. I was going to go to a player after the game and they’re going to look at me and be like, what are you doing? I’m playing rec basketball, why do you want to interview me after my game right now? Or the other outcome was going to be, they’re going to start talking like LeBron and Kobe, like on TNT and start putting out all the basketball vernacular. And by far, it was the second scenario”

16:01 – Ultimate Hoops using tech to enhance experience: “How can we make the experience better? How can we raise our technology, whether it be through social channels, or could it be a standalone channel that we create for UH with partnering with someone like PlaySight or someone else really bringing that experience to life?”

19:11 – Treating players like pros: “We always add a red carpet event the night before for players to meet, talk to the media.”

20:55 – Highest level Ultimate Hoops players ever: “We’ve had Penny Hardaway has played in the league, Hakeem Olajuwon played in a few games.

25:01 – The best level of basketball Alan has seen in Life Time gyms: “You can’t touch what happened in the summer of 2017, when Carmelo decided to do runs at Life Time Sky. Probably the best pick up ball run I saw I was in that September of 2017,  it was Harden and it was LeBron.”

29:54 – Leveraging NBA’s technology: “What we try to do is always keep an eye on some of the new technology that the NBA is leveraging or NBA teams that are leveraging and see if that makes sense for our business”

32:41 – Launching new sports: “We have actually acquired the Minnesota Vikings practice facility a couple of years ago when they built the new place and we’re doing a Life Time soccer out of that location as well. We are definitely looking at broader sports to get into.”

36:42 – Advice to someone who wants a career in basketball: “You have to love the game. You have to love everything about it, from watching the game to how a game is actually put together. From a business perspective, knowing what the competitive landscape looks like, understanding what the latest basketball trends are, keeping a really sharp eye on consumer habits and how people are consuming sports.”

43:23 – Reaching Alan Arlt: “I’m on Twitter and Instagram, probably the most active on Instagram. That’s @alanarlt. I’m also on LinkedIn. If you want to reach out on that channel, if you have a business inquiry or question that you have. And then I also have my website as well.”