Trevor Fitzgerald Booker (born November 25, 1987) is an American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was drafted 23rd overall in the 2010 NBA draft out of Clemson University where he was a 1st team all ACC performer. Along with his full time job with the Brooklyn Nets, Booker is an avid Venture Capitalist (JB Fitzgerald Venture Capital) & Serial Entrepreneur that has invested and started several enterprises that are gaining tremendous International attention. Booker is a father of 4 beautiful children, Kairah, Tj, Jaxon, Trece, and husband to April Booker, his college sweetheart at Clemson University. Accompanying Trevor in all of his business ventures is his college roommate and teammate at Clemson, Jonah Baize, who serves in the role of managing all of Trevor’s business affairs.
This interview was done jointly by Trevor and Jonah.
City where you’re from: Trevor Booker (Whitmire, SC) Jonah Baize (Evansville, IN)
Hobbies: Family Time, Cards, Cookouts, Lifetime Sports, Racquet Ball, Ping Pong, Billiards
Favorite quote: “Failure, and how you cope with it, is the key to success”
I’m very glad to have you here, Trevor. I’m sure our readers will be thrilled hearing your story. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
My mother and father instilled me with the confidence to be able to do whatever in this world that I put effort into. I come straight from the country. The boonies. I grew up appreciating the special moments. And the special things my parents worked so hard to provide me. My childhood developed a tough edge in me. It made me realize you have to work for what you own. My parents gave my brothers and I the world through their hard work and love for us. When they saw I had a passion or a talent, they would always positively reinforce me. I got the spark from them. And from being a small town, country boy, with big dreams to make it on a level that many desire.
Who were your biggest influences? Was there a defining moment in your life?
My parents are definitely my biggest influencers and my motivators. I am also motivated daily by the people I surround myself with. My Venture Capital partner and best friend, Jonah Baize, motivates me daily with his ambition. My wife and my brothers ambition to achieve success are huge motivators for me as well. Aside from them, I gained a tremendous amount of clarity and motivation in my first year in the NBA. I saw some guys in the NBA spend all of their money on material things, while receiving nothing in return for it. I realized quickly that I needed to differentiate myself and start investing in things that would give me a return. Not just investing in the market, but investing in likeminded people and companies that were ran by good, confident, ambitious entrepreneurs. Getting the eye opening experience of what some of the other millionaires in the NBA were doing with their money was a huge factor in me quickly becoming financially responsible.
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
One of our most successful ventures is Combine Academy, an International Boarding School that has 5 different locations around the United States (Charlotte, NC (Headquarters); Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; Nashville, TN). This business hits close to home for me because it allows us to provide tremendous opportunity to students and athletes from all over the world. We started this venture upon identifying a huge need and demand for quality private Education and private High School/Prep School sport development. Combine Academy prides itself on being extremely diverse with students from over 35+ countries and from over 40+ states. We have also been able to accomplish sending over 120+ student-athletes to the college level on Athletic/Academic scholarships.
Aside from Combine Academy, we are currently managing JB Fitzgerald Venture Capital, a one stop shop VC fund, that allows start-ups and small-medium sized businesses to receive funding and strategic consulting from us. We have been overwhelmed with the demand and the amount of genuine entrepreneurs with legitimate businesses and ideas that just need funding in order to scale to the next level.
How is Combine Academy different and unique? What has been your favorite moment with it? What’s the vision?
With Combine Academy, we offer an all-inclusive educational experience that allows student-athletes to receive everything they need in order to prepare for the college level of academics and athletics. Our favorite and most successful moments are when our students end up signing full college scholarships to the schools of their dreams, because we know they are inking the next 4 years of their successful future. Our vision is to continue enhancing our commercial/residential real estate portfolio by acquiring office and lodging properties in desired areas of the United States, while expanding to 10 different states by 2019.
What makes JB Fitzgerald Venture Capital unique is the type of resources we are able to provide to entrepreneurs and companies that need a little push to scale. It is rare with the team that we have built, for me to make a phone call to an important vendor or large corporation, and not receive a phone call back. I think entrepreneurs have been drawn to us because of our loyalty to them and the connections and network we have access to.
If you do Facebook ads, what types of creatives/campaigns do you use (we like specifics)?
We have a tremendous CMO for our VC Fund, named Eric Simpson, that provides digital marketing/advertising support to all of our companies. Through Eric’s strategic assessment of the needs of the company, we have done Facebook advertisements to help gain traction and increase sales. Facebook ads are geared toward a specific crowd and market, and only in certain circumstances, will running a Facebook campaign be very successful. It is never a good sign when a business must rely on social media campaigns. Therefore we like to use them, but certainly do not rely on them.
Did you experience failure along the way? What did you learn from it?
This is one of my favorite questions, solely because many people think that the top entrepreneurs and business owners they see are always chippy and rarely fail. However, that is definitely not the case. What makes a great entrepreneur is being able to deal with failures, learn from them, and become even stronger because of them. My business partners and I fail every single day, multiple times per day. We have become so accustomed to failure because the only way to succeed is to take risks, be creative, and learn from your decisions that do not work out as planned. The reason why the top business people seem so positive and chippy all of the time is because they have become professionals at failing and not allowing failure to dictate their mood and their growth. Every time we make a mistake, or make the wrong decision, we learn a different lesson.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advices you have.
- In order to win, you must get comfortable with failing. Failure is the key to success
- Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. You dictate your future. Your confidence and perseverance dictate your success.
- To any entrepreneur: if you want to do it, do it now. If you don’t, you’re going to regret it
- Explore in depth and thoroughly, the things you really know and understand, and you are good at, and research everything there is to know about them. Figure out what drives you, and interests you, and learn about that specific idea until there is nothing more to learn. Work hard in the areas you love and desire, and find likeminded, hardworking people to work in the areas you do not feel as strongly about. Never give up. A failure is a lesson. And lessons build successful enterprises.
- Whatever you choose to do, do it with passion and perseverance, and your chances of becoming successful will be heightened.
Teach us something!
Social Media ads are geared toward a specific crowd and market, and only in certain circumstances, will running a Facebook campaign be very successful. It is never a good sign when a business must rely on social media campaigns. Therefore you should use them, but certainly do not rely on them. Same goes for any avenue of marketing. You never want to be bound to one specific avenue of revenue generation. A strong business has multiple streams of revenue and multiple sources of marketing and advertising. I recommend tapping other business leaders in your industry. Tune into their business practices and be aware of what they are doing to get there. Replicate the operations they implement that are successful, and put your own creative/risk taking twist on them in order to separate your company.
While working on your project, have you come across any interesting bit of knowledge that you’d like to share? (i.e. any new research finding, any new platforms, some novel management technique, etc)
Our companies and management teams have become obsessed with researching our industries and learning everything about them. I have learned more in the boardroom than I ever did in school, and I am more interested in this research because I know it impacts our financial future. Research is the most valuable asset you can explore in order to become an expert in your industry. I challenge you to research every aspect of your business, all of your competitors, and any areas you do not feel like you have mastered. After hard work, the next best attribute to possess is knowledge of your industry. Become a master of all things related to your business.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
Organization is a key habit that has allows us to be successful. Determining the best use of our time is extremely important. The most valuable component you will always have access to is time. Therefore, organization becomes the best way to assure that you are utilizing your time in the most efficient manner.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Their strengths! Finding like-minded people that are strong in the areas they are weak in. Learning everything there is to know about their industry! And learning how to utilize their time in the most efficient manner.
Walk us step-by-step through the process that you had to go through to get from the early stages to where you are today.
- Step 1: Discovered an idea of a service that meets the demand of the world.
- Step 2: Developed a team of like-minded people that care about the idea and had the same passion as us
- Step 3: Researched everything about this idea, became immersed and obsessed with knowing the ins and outs of the industry
- Step 4: Implemented a plan that was developed
- Step 5: Discovered multiple revenue streams and a way to incorporate real estate acquisition
- Step 6: Reinvested the profits of the business to continue to build and grow upon the idea
- Step 7: Continued the process in other industries with other ideas.
What are some of your favorite books?
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
Over the next couple of years we are going to continue to partner with like-minded entrepreneurs and build our portfolio and the diversification of it. We are starting to become connected with some top Tech companies and have a desire to invest in some strong growth potential Tech companies with solid ideas. We also are keen on building our real estate portfolio nationally. We also desire to continue to change the game in education and become more nationally recognized as we grow. And lastly, we intend to enhance 2 current programs within our Non-Profit Organization (501 (c)(3)) that allow underprivileged youth from all across the globe receive a better education and living environment, as well as a program that allows High School students to become more immersed in the idea of entrepreneurship and receive tutelage and mentorship towards owning their own business.