Interview with Teddy Dupay
Fitness Pro Teddy Dupay is a Basketball Coach in Florida. His background as an elite basketball player makes him a great asset to the PocketSuite Pro community. Teddy talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro, about how he started off coaching professionals, and how he transitioned into his real passion of coaching kids.
I was just admiring the wall behind you. That’s your wall of fame. Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Absolutely, I’m a basketball coach. Basketball was something I played my whole life and had a great career. I’m still the all-time leading scorer in Florida history. Then, I played at the University of Florida. I was Coach Donovan’s first recruit at the University of Florida. He’s now the coach for the Chicago Bulls. He was just with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I committed to him as a sophomore in high school. And we started the program in Florida. And then, I played professionally for four years. So, basketball has been a great vehicle for me to learn about life. And now, in this second part of my life where I’ve recreated myself, gotten away from my player identity, and I’m now a coach. I’ve always wanted to help kids. I’ve always wanted to give back. So our mission for Teddy Dupay Basketball Academy is to help kids.
A lot of people, at the beginning, told me that’s a ridiculous mission. You cannot do that. Only nonprofits do that. You need funding. And maybe, I’m just a little stubborn, or hard-headed, or whatever it is, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I knew that’s what I was passionate about. There wasn’t a job for me, so I created my own. I’ve created my own business, my own job, and really, we’re our own category. There’s nobody like us anywhere in the world. I’ve looked. There’s nothing like us and it’s pretty exciting.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve always enjoyed jumping on and doing these things with you because I really believe the reason nothing like this exists is because there haven’t been tools like PocketSuite and things that would allow a person like myself, who doesn’t really make enough money to hire a big, huge staff, but there’s still so many jobs that need to be done to operate a good business that’s good for me, but that’s also seamless, frictionless, easy, intuitive for our parents. So, the tool, PocketSuite helped us get going, break through that hump. Now, it’s amazing how much we’ve grown. What a cool business and how successful we are now. It’s just amazing to even think of where we were when we started. It’s hard to imagine how far we’ve come.
Teddy, we’ve watched your growth in awe. And you have so many fans, not just in Florida, but around the country. Let me ask you this. When you set out to work with youth, was your hope and aspiration to work with youth of all shapes and sizes that were looking to play basketball for fun or were you focused on youth who were looking to go pro and pursue basketball as a profession?
Good question. It’s funny, you know what you want to do, but how you get there sometimes is different. The vehicle changes. Originally, I wanted to really work with kids and help them go to that next, next level to become elite. My first go at this, I was actually working with professionals. I was going down to IMG and I had a few pro clients. I also had a handful of guys who were coming out of college, pro prospects. They were getting ready for the NBA Draft Combine. The thing was, I was probably 35 at the time. I remember thinking to myself, “Man, these are the best of the best and I could still beat those guys.” It made me realize how few elite players there actually are. Definitely, not enough to make a business out of, but that really wasn’t what lit my fire.
I found myself down at this place working with pros, and then, in between our time doing these elite high-level workouts, I’d go over to the little kids. We’d start working on dribbling and passing, and laughing, and looking people in the eye and making new friends, and don’t cry when you make a mistake, and that’s what really made me excited. I quickly realized what I wanted to do. I had an idea, but then I figured it out by trying and by failing forward. For me, there’s a huge demographic of kids who go play at the YMCA. People who never played basketball, but they have to try basketball. A lot of kids who go to a summer camp, somewhere along the line try a basketball camp. Just like an art camp, or a science camp, or a soccer camp, a lot of kids try a basketball camp.
I realized there was a really big market for that and I could service that. The reason a lot of kids only do one basketball camp is because they go, and it’s not geared towards them. It’s not fun. There’s not enthusiastic coaches. They’re not actually learning something and getting better. With our camps, that’s not the case. Our goal isn’t to be great. Our goal is to get better. If we can all get better every day, that’s something kids at the very beginning who aren’t able to dribble or make a layup yet, they can get their arms wrapped around that. It’s really exciting. When a parent drops a kid off and they’re scared to death, they pick them up, the kids just can’t wait to come back the next day, that makes a parent happy, too.
We really have two customers. We have the parents who we have to market to, cater to, and ensure they’re happy. But at the same time, that’s not who we’re keeping happy with our product or service. It’s the kids. I started off marketing, putting these awesome moves and these awesome drills online. They were really cool. But I just realized once I started talking to my customers, those parents couldn’t care less about basketball. They don’t care about those moves. They don’t care about those drills. They don’t know anything about basketball. They want to find something fun for their kids. For the kid who wants to be elite, I can take him there and I’ve got a few kids doing that.
We’ve just had four more kids sign scholarships in the last week. I’ve got two or three kids playing in college right now. So, the fruits of our labor, we’ve worked with thousands, and thousands, and thousands of kids over the past seven years. We’re coming up on our seven thousandth session. We’ll probably get to that late January or February. In that time, we’ve helped a lot of people. We’ve made a huge impact. There are some kids who are taking what we’re teaching and creating a life out of it. It’s just, it’s incredible. It’s incredible. We’re not slowing down. We’re not slowing down. We haven’t slowed down.
Teddy, I could imagine the appeal of being able to do this kind of business is so great for folks who have been professional athletes, for folks who love basketball, for a wide range of folks who are into sports and into working with kids. Is there an opportunity to replicate your model in other parts of the country?
Well, there is now. At first, there wasn’t. Being a one-man show, as a lot of people understand, you don’t always have systems. It’s very difficult sometimes to get ahead of the work you’re doing. You’re more of a firefighter. Wherever the most urgent issue is, you tackle it. Planning ahead is sometimes difficult, and building systems is even harder. Again, with our growth, we have been able to put some really cool things together. We failed a few times. We put an app with videos in the app store. It went really well. But then, once I got going with it, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted. We did it. Once we did it, we realized that’s not really what we wanted to do, but we had to do it, and we had to screw up to figure it out.
Right now, what we’ve just done is we are in the midst of our very first, we call it, a ghost page where I’ve taken my website that we’ve developed and we have made it like a ghost, an evergreen thing where somebody else can take our system, they take our website, our registration, our whole nine yards, and even some of our marketing strategies, they put their name on the league, and it’s like a “basketball league in a box”. It’s great for people that don’t have a basketball professional in their area, but they have kids in a gym and they want to do a league. That has gone really, really well. After a few failed attempts, I think we’ve got it finally figured out. So, now, when people come to us and they’re like, “Wow, Teddy, could we do this in our local neighborhood? We don’t want to drive to Tampa.” Now, they can.
I have two or three people who are already on. They’re ready to go. Coaches who are retiring, guys who have been playing for 10 to 15 years. A lot of people see what I’m doing and they do want to do it. They realize either A) basketball is done or B) they can’t play anymore. Or A and B, they’ve done that, they’ve retired, they’ve tried working a job, and they hate it. Just like I realized I hated it. So, they’re asking me, how can they help? So, the same thing. Showing them the steps to take, the tools that they need, helping them get those things set up so they can get a well-oiled machine without having to go through the trial and error. Because even the most stubborn hard-nose person might not be able to persevere like I did to get to this point and I realize that.
So, the idea is I’m at my bandwidth, completely full. We do take more, but I couldn’t take any more kids. There’s no more time in the day. The only way for me to help more kids, which is our mission is to turn around and start helping coaches and help them put some systems in place so they can bring more kids in if they want to use our philosophies and our techniques, especially with the off-court basketball stuff, which I think is really important. They’re going to use that. We’re going to give them training in that, support, guidelines, guidance, whatever it may be.
We’ve taken our thousands and thousands of hours of working with kids, helping them not be scared, helping them get over that initial hump of being afraid of other people, all these things that would prevent somebody from learning a basketball skill, we’ve addressed those head-on, and five minutes into the training, we don’t have any scared kids anymore. They’ll get training from us on that, how to deal with the parents, how to do the merchanting, how to do the messaging. That’s where PocketSuite is just an unbelievable tool. I couldn’t imagine any business owner, whether they’re, like you say, a solopreneur, whether on their own, whether one man wrecking crew, whatever you want to call it. Or even a business that is huge already. The way PocketSuite has grown and developed and continued to evolve their app. I couldn’t see any business that wouldn’t be able to benefit from PocketSuite, especially because it’s so inexpensive. I don’t know how it wouldn’t fit into anybody’s business model or improve an existing system that they already have.
So, I love it. I’ve been here so long. I jumped on because you did recurring billing and it was a text message. That was all there back then. I saw an email one time and then I looked for it again, I couldn’t find it. So, I searched through my emails and I found it. I said, “Yeah, I like that. I really like that.” Because I had looked at everything and things were either too expensive or they weren’t going to fill the need that I had. We had gotten a little momentum and PocketSuite was the only thing that worked. Now here we are.
…I pay close attention to the people that I look up to and I pay even more close attention to the people that I don’t want to be like. I see the people that fail and I listen to the excuses. I listen to people finger-pointing and blaming other people when things don’t go their way. That’s what I don’t want to be like.
I love to hear that. Teddy, I’m so impressed with your ability to take the system that you’ve built over the last 7 years and create a “basketball camp in a box”! I’ve spent some time on your Facebook page and your Facebook group. There are so many comments that I see from parents who are moved by what you’ve done for their kids, not just on the courts, but what you’ve done to help develop their character. It’s pretty amazing. Is that something that can be replicated?
Yeah, it is because it’s not me really. It’s that kids are in such need, especially right now. Kids are so insecure just like adults. When kids walk in the gym and we’re to the point now, we have them trained up. This is one of the most impressive things parents always tell me. Their kid is crying in the car. They finally get them upstairs. They get him in the gym. Oh my gosh, the sky is falling. Then, our little kids walk right up to him. They look him in the eye and shake his hand. They introduce themselves to the kid and to the parents. You just see this balloon. Now, they’re smiling. They take him to meet the other kids. Now, they’re friends. I look at the parents. I say, “Okay, we got it.” They’re shocked. Their head is spinning. What just happened?
I tell them, “Whether it’s your first day of school, whether it’s your first date, your first prom, first job interview, everybody’s going to have these butterflies. Everything you feel, everybody feels that. Am I good enough? And am I going to be liked? Am I dressed properly?” Everybody has those same insecurities. Everybody. Even the most confident people. It’s just, we learn how to take those butterflies and have them motivate us. It lifts us up. It doesn’t hold us down. It’s contagious. We have kids that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be your most confident kids. They weren’t. But now, they are. It’s amazing when you have your head held high and you feel good about yourself. Other people want to be around you. What can you say? It’s a game changer. We’re building an army. I can’t even imagine that the TDBA tribe in 20 years is going to be pretty big.
Love it. Teddy, you’re so poised and confident. Honestly, when you speak, I feel like I’m being coached, too. You speak in such grand terms, which is an amazing quality that you have. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you stay motivated as you build out your vision?
If you don’t believe in yourself, who the heck is going to? I’ve had as elite coaching as you can get. The best of the best. The people who are paid seven, eight figures a year to coach on the highest levels of multiple sports. Robert Kiyosaki, the Russ Whitneys. These are people that I’ve not only worked with, but they’ve utilized me and my skills to build massive, massive programs to distribute their teaching philosophies. So, those smart people who everybody knows, they also have way even smarter people around them. So, as you’re collaborating with these people, you’re really learning from the best. You’re bouncing ideas off them. You’re seeing what’s coming back. You see what’s working. You see how very smart people respond to different ideas.
Again, I pay close attention to the people that I look up to and I pay even more close attention to the people that I don’t want to be like. I see the people that fail and I listen to the excuses. I listen to people finger-pointing and blaming other people when things don’t go their way. That’s what I don’t want to be like.
Teddy, there’s a clarity that comes with the understanding that regardless of what your financial position is, this is what you want to do every day. I’ve seen this time and time again with independent professionals. This is what I am choosing to do. This is my avocation. It’s also my vocation. It’s the thing that connects us. Can you give folks a sense of what a typical day looks like for you?
My week is very regimented, which I love. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, we are in the gym, period. 52 weeks, a year, no days off. We never took time off this year. Well, I shouldn’t say that. This year, Christmas is on Friday. So, it’s going to be sticky. We’re not going to have a lot of people excited about training. Then in the summer, we also include summer camps. We do a Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Some of that happened through necessity, being able to rent gyms.
The other part was me doing it. I didn’t want to be in there five days, all day. We figured out this perfect, perfect blend, which leaves people on the last day wanting more instead of dreading the last day. Our leagues, when they start up, we do those Saturday mornings and Friday nights. Right now, we have no leagues, no summer camps. My day is pretty good. I get up. I go do some yoga. I get on the elliptical to try and stay in shape. Get some lunch, get cleaned up, go to the gym. Start private lessons about 2:00 PM. Do private lessons from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Start classes with our four, five, and six-year-olds at 4:00 PM. 5:00 PM is ages to 13. 6:00 PM, ages 12 and up. 7:15 PM ages 14 and up. That’s our Friday. Saturday, when we have leagues, we start at nine in the morning. We have games at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 1:00 PM. Then I do private lessons from about 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM. Then we start that four o’clock class schedule.
Sunday morning, I get up. I go to church. I teach my Sunday school class. I’ve got the one, two, and three-year-olds, and we work on walking, thank you, and please, and I love you, and all kinds of cool stuff like that. Then, I go to church. Then, I come home, get some lunch, go start classes at 2:30 PM, and we go from 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM. If I feel like getting some stuff done, I do. But then, Tuesday and Wednesday, what I try and do is get a full week’s worth of “work” done where I’m doing my computer stuff and get my emails written. I’m getting a lot of them answered, apologizing for being behind, having meetings, or lunches, or whatever I need to do. I try and get those knocked out. If there’s ever something on a Thursday or Friday morning, I have that time. But really, to be honest with you, I like sleeping in. It’s a big thing for me. If I had to be at work everyday at 9:00 AM… If you want kryptonite, make me go to an office in clothes that you tell me to wear at 9:00 AM sharp, every single day.
Yeah, that’d crush anybody’s soul.
You’d think I was just a high school dropout. What a dirt bag. This guy can’t do anything right. Some days I’m up before the sun comes up. I’m just ready to go. But on days that I like to sleep in or my body needs it because we’re doing a lot of physical activity, sometimes, I feel guilty, but other times I’m like, “Yes, why?” So, I do it this way. Whatever it is. I could be selling my own service, or I could be doing basketball coaching, or whatever it is. But I think having that freedom… People talk about freedom to travel, and vacation, and they take their pictures with their margaritas, beachfront, and look at this. For me, the lifestyle is being able to stay in bed when I want, when I need some extra sleep. You take it for granted, but somebody really hears this and thinks about it. Next time they wake up and just dread going into work.
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Living life on your own terms, there’s nothing like it. Can you tell us a story about someone who went through your camp that you’ve been able to stay in touch with and see them pull forward those lessons in their adult life? I know you stick with the kids long after the camp is over.
So many things just popped into my head. The first one was an actual coach. A coach who started his own weight training business now. He hit me up the other day. He’s doing great. We’ve got one kid who is, right now, one of the top 10 players in America, football and basketball. He just signed a letter of intent to go play ball at USC. I just think of another guy who’s at Notre Dame right now, probably going to be a top 10 NBA pick this year.
There’s another kid, one of our first players ever, the second player ever, a kid named Chance. I remember one time, I was on half of a court doing one of our earliest trainings. This is in 2013 and he was on a team. It was an AAU team. I remember hearing all the other kids pick at him. So, I’m on one side with my kids doing training and even the coaches, picking at him, picking at him. I remember hearing and then, I watch, and he could shoot. So, I end up waiting after. I talked to his dad. I said, “Why don’t you come give it a try?” I know you want to be on a team, but I think I can help. I remember speaking with him, telling him you got the one thing they don’t have. You can shoot. That’s the one skill that God can’t give you. You have to earn it. That’s why there’s this common fraternity between shooters. You see somebody who can shoot, you immediately know what they’ve done. He worked, he worked, and he worked. Right now, he’s playing basketball at Florida Gulf Coast University. Actually, he sent me some videos of himself the other day. I actually posted it back on.
I posted it on my social media, my personal one. I said, “Where are all the kids that wouldn’t train? Where are all the kids that were making fun of you? Where are all the kids that refuse to do anything except play on AAU teams, and where are they now?” Here he is, he’s this big, strong, good-looking kid, proud of himself for sticking with it. I’m so proud of him. I’m happy for his parents, sticking with it, and telling him he can do it. That’s just one. We’ve got hundreds of them.
That’s how it happens. Teddy, I never get tired of hearing these stories. I think you need a wall of letters from parents behind you as well because I’ve seen it on your Facebook page. I’m super excited about sharing your story. When you go fully live with your “basketball camp in a box”, we want to get it out to our networks as well. So, thank you, Teddy, for everything that you do everyday – seen and unseen.
Yes. Thank you, Chinwe.