Twin alums’ app locates pickup basketball games

Twin brothers Dominic ’11 (Marketing) and Donte ’11 (General Management) Morris are basketball fanatics with an acumen for entrepreneurship. They found an opportunity to meld the two out of the frustration they encountered finding pickup games.

Such was the genesis for Hoop Maps. An app that can find a pickup basketball game anywhere in the world, Hoop Maps had been downloaded about 1,000 times before CBS13 featured a segment on it last week leading into the NCAA Tournament. That number rocketed quickly after the TV coverage: Dominic said in a phone interview March 22 that it had been downloaded 10,000 times in the previous three days. Coverage of the brothers’ invention has taken off as well. They since have been featured on popular technology websites TechCrunch and SportTechie, and on March 27 on ESPN’s morning SportsCenter show.

Talk about a pickup.

Dominic said the brothers, 28, had the idea for a while before launching it last year. “We thought it was going to get all the buzz and for almost a year … people didn’t take to it,” he said.

To happen upon a game was as effortless as a Kyrie Irving drive to the basket when the brothers were growing up in Oakland, they told CBS13. But nowadays, finding a game after work hours can be tougher than locating TruTV on your channel roster. They figured a marriage of smart phones’ GPS feature and players’ quest for some good run was a natural.

“So that’s kind of what sparked the idea,” Donte told CBS13.

Going into business together also came naturally for the twins, who Dominic said did “everything” together as schoolkids. Now that they’ve found a potentially worldwide market geared toward players of an immensely popular sport, the Morrises, who also are founders of a local fall baseball league, seem well positioned for a big score. “Now that everything is happening,” Dominic said, “this is how we saw it.”

In addition to the CBS13 segment, you’ll find more coverage and details about the twins’ app on the popular blog Blavity.

John Davidson goes ‘beast’ mode, joining The Marketing Arm

As satisfying as helping build a company almost from the ground up was, John Davidson (’11, Business Administration) was ready for a different opportunity on a global stage. And he wants to see that his fellow Sacramento State graduates have similar chances to shine when they enter the working world.

After five years, Davidson has moved on from Already Been Chewed (ABC; the name is a play on the skateboarding term “already been done”), the motion graphics studio he helped launch and manage. He has joined The Marketing Arm (TMA), a Dallas-based company responsible for well-known campaigns such as PepsiCo’s “Uncle Drew” ads featuring NBA star Kyrie Irving.

John Davidson graduated from Sac State in 2011 with a degree in Business Administration. (Photo courtesy of John Davidson)

As Davidson puts it, he has migrated from “the boutique to the beast.” He’ll venture from the belly of that beast March 7-9 to visit the Sac State campus as a mentor and company exhibitor at the Business Pathway to Success Luncheon, and as a guest speaker in the Business Honors Practicum class and guest marketing classes. He also hopes to find candidates for TMA’s apprenticeship program, Gateway to Greatness, a five-month, full-time educational program that provides a few exceptional candidates the chance to work with the industry’s leading consumer engagement agency. Participants must be seniors in their final semester, recent college graduates, or young professionals.

While his experience at Sac State was invaluable, Davidson says the one thing he wishes he could have done was the sort of apprenticeship offered by TMA. “It’s such a great opportunity for Sac State students because it gives them firsthand experience in the real world with leading brands and gives them a steppingstone into the industry,” he says.

An apprenticeship would mean less reliance on the intuition, moxie and luck that Davidson and ABC founder Barton Damer needed to fuel a big breakthrough. Davidson, however, never saw himself in design for the long haul. “My passion is more for marketing than design,” he says. “I felt I had a scratch I needed to itch. … For a couple years in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to do something more marketing-specific.”

Davidson found a fit in the people-centered culture of TMA, founded in 1993 by Ray Clark. Employee input is valued on all levels. For example, the company conducts a “Creative Soup” session each Friday where anyone from any division can brainstorm campaigns.

Now he’s ready to pay it forward. “My main goal is to help out Sac State students any way I can,” Davidson says. “I think an apprenticeship program resonates most because their biggest question is, ‘How am I gonna get a job?’ ”

And while Davidson has left the world of design for his true professional love of marketing, he left room in his heart for at least one other passion: He still skateboards regularly. And, in fact, he looks forward to skating the parks at Power Inn and Mather Field when he comes to town.

“I miss those places.”

Sac County Supervisor Phil Serna (’92) honored by Hispanic Chamber

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honored Sacramento County District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna (Geography ’92) on Saturday, Feb. 25, with its 2017 Salud! Champion Award.

“I am very honored to be recognized as the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber’s 2017 Salud! Champion,” Serna said. “It is especially rewarding to know my contribution as an activist county supervisor is acknowledged by an organization so committed to helping our community. I look forward to many more years of collaboration and mutual support.”

Serna grew up in the Curtis Park neighborhood. His father, Jose “Joe” Serna Jr., was Sacramento’s first Latino mayor. Phil Serna earned his bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State and a master’s in city and regional planning from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, from which he graduated with honors in 1994.

He is the chair of the Sacramento First 5 Commission and sits on numerous other boards and commissions, including Sacramento Regional Transit, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District. He was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 to serve on the California Air Resources Board. He’s also a lifetime member of Sac State’s Alumni Association.

District 1 includes the Sacramento International Airport, McClellan Business Park, and many of the region’s most established neighborhoods, such as Downtown, Oak Park, Woodlake, and River Park. Serna has focused on issues such as flood protection, addressing the region’s homeless problem, helping increase access to health care, mental health, and children’s services.