Caleb Smith grew up in Durham and loved the youthful sports model that helped him become a professional soccer player. Combined with his passion for gaming, he and his co-founder opened Triangle Esports Academy in Cary in 2020. The 2,400-square-foot youth gaming center has served 1,400 students, hosting parties, esports tournaments, and coding workshops. . [Editor’s Note: GrepBeat first profiled the company in August, 2021, under its previous name, Contender Esports Cary.]
Triangle Esports Academy’s core focus is education in innovative technology industries and workforce development. Caleb has led Triangle Esports Academy to get involved with the community through involvement with K-12 schools, universities and non-profit organizations. Caleb is a huge advocate for education, regularly volunteering his time to serve on various school committees, help students with elective projects, and coach soccer for a local high school. In November 2022, Caleb received the Forbes 30 Under 30 Award in the Education category.
1. What’s in your pockets?
Wallet, keys and phone.
2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
Triangle Esports Academy is a youth education and development gaming center. We host camps, birthday parties and after school programs and many customers just come in and pay by the hour to play. We address and work with young people in what we do. We have adults who come, for example, who have tournaments, practice or play. Obviously, we’re going to say yes and let them come here. Someone once had a bachelor party here. People do different kinds of events.
I received a Forbes 30 Under 30 in November in the Education category. We’ve done very well in terms of moving forward with different associations locally in the area. We had the opportunity for the Wake County Public School System to host their career academy coordinators and professional development coordinators for a meeting on three separate occasions. There were coordinators for both the middle and high schools. We can offer what we have to many different groups, and when there are larger esports events in the area, we can host players for practice and training camp.
3. What is your favorite coffee place?
I don’t drink coffee but I went to BREW Coffee Bar a couple of weeks ago and that was the first place I had coffee and I thought oh actually I would pay for this without it being a business meeting.
4. What keeps you awake at night?
I like to sleep, so I don’t want anything to keep me awake. As for worries, I don’t really worry too much. I just want things to happen faster than they do and then I have to remind myself that I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t have any plans to sell or go public, but I do plan to have this company, doing what I do, obviously only on a larger scale, for the next 40 years or more.
I’m not really worried about me. I will make sure, in the future, that everything is in the right place in terms of people, processes and systems.
5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
I like Fount Coffee + Kitchen in Morrisville. I like to support local independent businesses and eat fairly healthy. I like that they are organic and I eat mostly plant-based. They have many plant based options.
6. What’s next for you or your organization?
Keep doing what we do. We could still do more just with the current location we have. We have a goal to open more locations and see that potential. Esports are growing. Now there’s VR and sports technology, augmented reality, being incorporated into video games. Going into that and generally continuing our educational youth development programs, being able to offer more and creating a true pipeline system.
It is a process that will take a few years, but we will remain focused and consistent with what we are doing. We are looking further towards 2024 (for our next location) because it takes about eight months to get one up and running.