Arin Finger is probably the only i9 Sports® franchise owner with an IMDB.com profile. Not only does the Phoenix resident operate two i9 Sports territories, he also has nearly 30 movie credits to his name, including Sin City, Thor and Rise of the Guardians. His journey to i9 Sports is a story fit for the big screen.
Finger worked for 15 years in the field of visual movie arts, ending up in a dream job producing films with DreamWorks Animation. Finger had the life Hollywood hopefuls dream about, working with celebrities and hitting all the big parties.
And then, in 2013, he decided he wanted something different.
“I thought I was going to be with DreamWorks forever,” Arin said. “But then there were changes; there was a Comcast buyout, and they wanted me to move to China to work on the Kung Fu Panda series.”
Arin and his wife, Ena, were hoping to come back home from abroad, having just spent several months in India while Arin worked on Penguins of Madagascar. Their son Noah was 3, Ena was pregnant with their son Isaac, and Arin felt like it was time to make a career and life change. He hardly saw Noah, having to leave the house at 5 a.m. for conference calls with Hollywood contacts and not returning until 8 p.m. or later.
“We decided it was time to do something on our own. Then I thought, ‘If I’m going to leave 15 years in this industry and start completely fresh, what do I do? What are things that make me really happy?’” Arin said.
At their apartment complex in India, there was a large soccer field that saw a ton of activity. Arin often walked Noah down to the field, and they’d run around with the area children. It then struck him — that’s what he loves — the energy of players on the field, watching the smiles as they enjoy themselves, the thrill of healthy competition.
Finding the perfect children’s franchise opportunity
Right away, Arin began looking for a children’s franchise opportunity. He was already familiar with the high points of buying into a franchise program, and he wanted to benefit from the proven systems and built-in training. He found these benefits in the i9 Sports youth sports business plan.
“Walking into something that’s an established brand, that was the leg-up I needed to move back to Phoenix and get started,” he said.
Once he got started, Arin couldn’t be stopped. Since launching his first i9 Sports territory in 2013, Arin has added another to now cover North Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, North Phoenix and Glendale. He offers flag football, basketball, soccer, T-ball/coach-pitch baseball and cheerleading at 12 locations, with up to 1,700 athletes playing each season.
Arin has about 65 part-time and full-time employees in his system, from site managers and instructors to people who take care of marketing and assembling coach bags.
“There’s really a parallel to what I was doing in my previous career. I was a producer, so that’s all about managing schedules and budgets and people,” Arin said. “Instead of producing movies, I’m producing a good experience. You have to be super organized; there a million tiny details you have to be on top of. It happens to be very related.”
A low-cost franchise opportunity that’s high-tech
The i9 Sports proprietary software helps him organize all those details. Arin said it’s a major advantage for organizing rosters and setting schedules, and the perfect tool to have built into the i9 Sports youth sports business plan.
Arin’s i9 Sports children’s franchise opportunity keeps him just as busy as he used to be, with an email inbox as packed as it was in the movie industry. However, now he sets his own schedule, driving his kids to school in the morning and having dinner with them in the evening. And, he got his weekends back!
“I don’t have to request time off. I don’t need to ask my boss for vacation,” Arin said. “I can take off during spring break for the first time without hesitation. ‘We are going to Mexico!’”
He appreciates being able to wear shorts and flip-flops to work and likes to get out into the sunshine during work hours. Arin still coaches soccer at one of his i9 Sports venues which he says helps him stay better connected to the staff and participant experience. Also, it’s just fun!
“I was used to dark rooms, computer screens and angry directors yelling at me on the phone,” Arin said. “Now, I love seeing the kids with the smiles on their faces. I love just walking around the field and seeing the energy out there. The kids are so excited to be with their friends, have fun and play sports.”