Putting his passion to work

Posted 11/24/08

Holly Cook When most 25-year-olds are still deciding what they want to do with their lives, Matt Nelsen has it figured out. In fact, the Centennial …

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Putting his passion to work


Holly Cook

When most 25-year-olds are still deciding what they want to do with their lives, Matt Nelsen has it figured out.

In fact, the Centennial resident knew what he wanted to do long before he graduated college. He wanted to be his own boss and he didn’t want to be an industrial engineer.

“I’m an intelligent guy. I’m good at engineering, but I didn’t have the passion for it,” Nelsen said.

What’s more, the certified professional tennis player would rather play a leisurely game of tennis during his day than sit behind a desk in a stuffy suit.

Drawing on those three facts about him, Nelsen started Drop Shots Tennis; a facility geared toward teaching 2- through 10-year-olds how to play the game.

His long-term goal is to start a franchise bringing Drop Shots to kids all over the country.

The whole project was set in motion when Nelsen was a college student at the University of San Diego. He and a friend started a storage business — picking up, storing and dropping off college students’ boxed belongings. The business caught on like wildfire, gaining the attention of 20 colleges across the country, according to Nelsen.

It was then that Nelsen’s partner offered him a number he couldn’t refuse for his share of the company.

“I wanted to stick with it. It was my idea, but I just couldn’t say ‘no,’” Nelsen said. Accepting the offer gave him enough capital to start Drop Shots.

Drop Shots kids learn to play tennis on miniature courts with miniature racquets and balls.

In high school, Nelsen worked for a similar company, teaching kids proper technique. But the business went under and Nelsen said he’d always thought it would be a good idea to start one up again.

Drop Shots opened in February and conducts as many as nine classes a day. Nelsen’s sister, KT, manages the facility and serves as head instructor.

Nelsen said his goal was to reduce the dependency on him as an instructor and a manager. Dependency, he said, was the fatal flaw of his predecessor’s tennis business.

“I love the kids but I want to make sure they are getting quality training from all of the instructors,” he said.

When he’s not at the office, the entrepreneur is coaching tennis at Arapahoe and Chaparral high schools. During the lunch hour he moseys over in his sweatpants to meet his friends in their stiff suits to discuss the work day.

“I don’t know what I like more,” Nelsen said. “Being my own boss or learning all about business,” he said.

Nelsen could have learned from his first business partner in college, but even he didn’t know what to do, Nelsen said.

“I thought he would take care of all the business stuff while I managed the operational side,” he said. “Turns out [my friend] didn’t know much about starting a business. Business majors only learn about big business. No one teaches them how to start one.”

As a result, most of his business knowledge was self-taught. Nelsen said he utilized free information from the Small Business Association, and picked his professor’s brains.

That experience helped him start Drop Shots, but Nelsen will admit, this business taught him much more than he expected.

“You’d be amazed at the parallels there are to parenting or relationships,” he said in regard to running his own business.

For more information, visit www.dropshotstennis.com.


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