Nerd Street Gamers
Location: Philadelphia, PA
John Fazio wrote his first code at age 9, and started his first company at age 13. He went to Lower Moreland High School for three years, earned his GED, and took business and marketing classes at Montgomery County Community College during what would have been his senior year of high school. Fazio wrote the business plan for what would become Nerd Street at age 17. However, esports was not yet a normalized concept, and he was unable to raise the capital needed to start the business.
Fazio then attended Drexel University for one year and majored in physics while also playing on Drexel’s men’s soccer team. Although he stopped taking classes after his freshman year, Fazio continued working out of Drexel’s entrepreneur center running Jarvus, a web software engineering firm.
At Jarvus, video games were built into the culture. Employees and colleagues lugged gaming PCs from home to the Jarvus office and competed against one another multiple times a week. The nightly gaming tournaments quickly spread outside of the organization as friends and fellow gamers joined. As the tournaments and community grew, the passion of Fazio’s original business plan resurfaced, and N3rd Street Gamers (now Nerd Street) was formed.
Today, Nerd Street is a national network of esports facilities and events dedicated to powering competitive opportunities for gamers. The company promotes greater access to the esports industry, laying a national framework for esports talent development and gaming tournaments. The company provides opportunities for gamers of all ages and skill levels to participate in esports tournaments, camps, team training, private events and hourly play for a variety of video games.
“John’s goal is to provide esports for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status and accessibility to equipment,” the company said. “In the next five years, Nerd Street will continue to create facilities and tournaments with a lower barrier to entry. This will not only help the individual gamer, but also the industry as a whole.”
Nerd Street has partnered with the Special Olympics and Jefferson Health Center for Autism and Neurodiversity as well as HBCU and the NFL on a Madden 21 tournament, aiming to build a gaming community that values inclusivity as well as profit, the company said.
Fazio was a finalist for the Cynopsis Sports Media Awards’ Digital Executive of the Year. In September 2021, he opened the first esports campus, The Block, a hub for gamers across the country. That same year, Fazio was also featured in Newsweek’s 2021 Top 50 Disruptors alongside trailblazers including Lizzo, Elon Musk and others. In 2020, he was recognized by the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program as one of the 23 finalists for this prestigious award. Fazio was also named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list, which recognizes the region’s most dynamic young business leaders.
Fazio said he will remain influential in the alwaysevolving world of esports “by staying humble, appreciative, and forever using whatever privilege I have to help others.”