Staples student turns hoops passion into big business
Updated 7:56 pm, Thursday, March 23, 2017
WESTPORT — It began with a simple brainstormed idea to create a place for people to discuss fantasy basketball. It’s become one of the top basketball outlets in the world today.
The evolution from fantasy basketball community to its current iteration, Hoops Nation, was a long and winding one for Staples High School junior Buster Scher. But it’s paying off in a significant manner as the Facebook page turned website turned worldwide brand is quickly growing and has caught the attention of many in the industry.
Hoops Nation aims to cover all levels of basketball, including the NBA, college, high school and overseas leagues, in a variety of platforms. A website, launched in December, primarily delivers content from writers. Its Facebook page, which began the project, serves as a massive forum for community members to share opinions and comment on the top news stories in the sport. Hoops Nation also has a quickly growing Instagram and Snapchat.
“It feels awesome,” Scher said. “That’s really first and foremost; to try to have them enjoy the game as much as I do. ... A lot of stuff doesn’t work. I just take it, change it up and keep doing that until it works.”
The original idea centered on fantasy basketball, a market that Scher — a lifelong Knicks fan who grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Westport last year — identified as having a massive void despite being a significantly popular activity.
“There was no place where that was actually happening,” Scher said. “You had your group of friends, but there was no app or anything like that out there in regards to fantasy basketball.”
By communicating in similar pages on Facebook, Scher grew a significant following with that venture. But he wanted to expand into general NBA content and launched All NBA All Day, a news-based page that focused solely on the NBA. Once that grew to about 12,000 likes, he went bigger again.
Hoops Nation was then created and exploded almost immediately, multiplying in viewers daily. Its followers include former and current NBA players in addition to passionate fans, fellow entrepreneurs and businessmen. Now it’s a growing business with managers, editors and writers, who are paid based on Google AdSense rates.
Scher — who is also part of Staples’ WWPT radio station — added another piece to the puzzle with the launch of Facebook Live last year. He decided to begin live broadcasting every night; it began as a prepared effort but has turned into an open forum where he fields questions from viewers.
“I really wanted to build a relationship with followers,” Scher said. “That’s something you’ll never be able to see a complex news (outlet) be able to do. To build an actual relationship with people, if I can do that with 1,000 to 2,000 people every single night over two months, (that adds up).”
Scher now broadcasts on Instagram Live to help increase that part of the brand. Broadcasts last from 10 minutes to 45, depending on the audience and the questions being posed. He has a sizable following from the Philippines, a country of 100 million people with a rabid basketball fanbase.
“I’ve always wanted to be a TV or radio personality,” Scher said. “And this was the perfect combination; I had a platform to be able to do that. I stream every night. I’ve always loved being in front of a camera talking sports.”
To get a full scope of the reach and impact of the brand, numbers are the easiest route. Hoops Nation has close to 650,000 likes on its Facebook (officialhoopsnation) page, and 200,000 followers on Instagram (@hoopsnation). Last week the Facebook page had a reach of 35 million. Website traffic is projected to benefit considerably from the sizable social media presence.
Scher has a number of short- and long-term goals for the brand, which includes establishing it as an official company and continuing to grow. He’s interested in pursuing a career in either communications or business, and will work this summer for entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk.
And for the ultimate goal?
“I want it to be the biggest basketball outlet in the world,” Scher said.