This week I’ll be running a series of Five Question interviews with small businesses which were facilitated by BondStreet, a SMB lending platform (we’re investors). LocalBiz stories are really fun for me since my first high school job was working in an independent bookstore. These people are true founders and entrepreneurs just like any venture backed company.
Hunter Walk: Can you share the founding story of 305 Fitness? How did it all begin?
Sadie (Founder): 305 Fitness is a dance cardio workout with a live DJ. We have locations in NYC, Boston, and D.C.
My story is:
I started dieting and going to the gym at a very young age, 11 or 12. I was using the treadmill as a way to purge. The conversation is my head was always punitive. Then I discovered dance. It was uplifting and positive. I could get an effective workout and not once look at the clock. So I started teaching dance cardio in college. The classes caught on like crazy and students used to line up around the block to take them. All of my friends could see how passionate I was about these classes, though I never considered teaching fitness professionally. My senior year, I was out at a nightclub in Miami — where I’m from — with my best friend. We looked around at the lights, the DJ, the bumpin sound and we thought: we have to take these classes I’m teaching and add this kind of thrilling environment. So that’s the story of 305: it’s world’s colliding. Fun and fitness fused under one roof.
HW: All of the social platforms claim to help small businesses and brands amplify their voice, find their customers. Are you active on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, etc? How do you decide which products to dedicate time and attention? Do “likes” and “shares” turn into sales?
S: We’re very focused on social media, particularly where we can find our young demographic. most of our clients are in their 20s and 30s, so we’ve focused on instagram and Facebook and increasingly, snapchat. Right now, our instagram is growing considerably every day. For us, it’s not a direct translation of sales. It’s about engaging our community, finding ways to keep 305 Fitness top-of-mind for junkies during the 23 hours that they aren’t taking class. We’ve found community to be huge; not only is an inclusive, positive environment very much part of our mission, but we know that people are much more likely to stay committed to fitness when they have a tribe of others counting on them to show up. Instagram serves that community-building purpose for us.
HW: At Homebrew we see lots of startups wanting to serve the small/growing business segment with software tools ranging from ecommerce, to point of sale to employees backoffice and so on. What software tools help power your business – besides Microsoft Excel – since everyone secretly just uses Excel 🙂
- Shiftplanning — we use this to schedule all of our instructors, front desk staff, and DJs across all cities.
- Mindbody — this is the leading CRM software in the fitness/spa industry.
HW: What’s a problem you wish a technology startup could solve for you?
S: Honestly, I’d love to see someone build a better Mindbody. it’s no shade on them, but they lack a lot of functionality. I really challenge someone to build software that’s as comprehensive and can track my customer data, but can pull more essential reporting, has a more beautiful interface, can more seamlessly integrate onto a website, and makes check-out easier.
HW: You partnered with Bond Street for growth capital. How did you originally connect with Bond Street? What’s the biggest difference for you between a platform like Bond Street and traditional borrowing from a bank or other offline source?
S: I heard about Bond Street through a friend, who went to school with David Haber, the brilliant founder behind it all. I really enjoyed my process with Bond Street. They made it very simple to move forward. I had direct access to the person reviewing my application — unlike the bureaucracy at a big bank. The online application was simple and painless. All in all, it took about 5 hours of time from start of application to signing for the loan. That’s pretty good!
Bond Street is transforming small business lending through technology, data and design.