How Rajon Rondo’s Big Brother Became the NBA’s Go-To Concierge
“BACK DOOR! BACK DOOR! Back door all day!” Rondo yells from our seats after Celtics guard Avery Bradley makes a nice cut to the hoop for an easy bucket. The C’s are handling the lowly Wizards pretty easily, and Rondo is especially pumped about the play of Bradley, both a friend and a client. By halftime, Bradley has already piled up 19 points against the Wizards, and Rondo is in such a good mood that he doesn’t even notice that his brother, despite eight assists, has gone scoreless. With the game on break, Rondo embarks on another handshaking tour of the Garden. During 15 minutes of walking around and glad-handing, seemingly the only person he doesn’t talk to is Aztec Gino, a Celtics super fan who dresses up in mock Indian garb and has the unique distinction of being disliked by pretty much everyone (when he’s nearby, Rondo eyes him suspiciously).
As halftime winds down, Rondo calls up his friend Christa Jones and arranges a confab in the Garden concourse. Jones is the vice president of Institutional Advancement at the Urban College of Boston, and also runs Mogul Executive Services, a concierge service (she says her business doesn’t tend to conflict with Rondo’s since he’s more focused on transportation). She helped him get his company set up, and now may be able to help him expand it.
Rondo says he’s intentionally kept things small so far, so he can provide personal attention to all of his clients. But he’s slowly growing: He says he now does VIP transportation for groups, including the American Heart Association, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and the NBA Players Association, and he recently launched a smartphone app for his clients to book through. The app made a big enough splash in the industry that it helped earn him a feature in the trade publication Limousine, Charter & Tour. Rondo says he’d love to eventually put employees on the ground in other cities.
Jones, it turns out, is having a meeting soon with some of the people behind Shark Tank, the ABC reality show where entrepreneurs pitch a panel of venture capitalists (including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban) to try to get them to invest. She says she’ll bring up Rondo’s name to try to get him on the show. Rondo likes the idea, but says he also plans on meeting with banks to try to find more-traditional investors.
Of course, there is the same old dilemma: If he does end up getting on the show, it would no doubt be, at least in part, because he’s Rajon Rondo’s brother. Then again, none of the sharks are going to give him any money just because of his bloodline — they’d have to like his business.
As he and Jones hash things out, I think back to that time Rondo and I were chatting at the diner in Waltham: As we were getting up to leave, he passed me the pamphlet he’d just produced for SGT. I pointed out how it didn’t say the name “Rondo” on it anywhere. He nodded — that was intentional — but then waffled for a moment. “Do you think I’d benefit more if I used the name and said who I was related to?” In the end, though, he didn’t waver: If you go on the SGT website, you won’t find his last name anywhere.
Ever the prideful big brother, what he likes best, he says, is when he’s being recommended by a satisfied customer and Rajon doesn’t come up. “Sometimes they leave off my last name,” he says, “and just say, ‘Call this guy, Will. He’ll take care of you.’”