Diary of a Startup
Talking to Karen Jashinsky is like getting a shot of enthusiasm in the arm. This 28-year-old MBA student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles is immersed in the very early stages of launching a gym and hangout spot for teens. Fueled by passion and hard work, Jashinsky feels optimistic about the coming year-and so do we. In fact, we decided to take a front seat and follow her as she brings her startup dreams to brick-and-mortar reality. We'll be checking in periodically, so don't miss our updates in future issues.
After working as a personal trainer for three years, Jashinsky knew she wanted to start a business in the fitness industry. She decided to target her gym and lounge idea toward teens after working with parents who asked her to train their kids. "I was observing teens going to the gym, not really knowing what they were doing, just going to socialize with their friends," she says. "So I started training teens individually, and [then] pairing them up, and [I] noticed they responded very well. It became kind of fun because they had someone they were [working out] with."
Armed with a fresh idea, as well as input from local teens about exactly what they wanted in a gym/lounge/cafe, Jashinsky entered her university's business-plan contest and landed in the top 10. Though she didn't win, she's well on her way to opening her doors in July 2006, soon after graduation. Currently, she's hoping to secure funding for her yet-to-be-named business. She's also looking to partner with someone who has a strong background in the fitness industry.
On the funding front, Jashinsky plans to bankroll about one-third of the $500,000 total startup budget herself, with money from savings, investments, family contributions and the like. She also recently met with an SBA counselor to discuss avenues for getting more money. "The SBA loved the idea," she says. "And as it gets closer [to opening], they said they'd help me present to banks to get financing." Additionally, she plans to apply for a small-business loan from the Jewish Free Loan Association.
It's safe to say Jashinsky has a lot on her plate right now. "Everything's constantly changing," she says. "The business plan is done, and you think of another idea, and you have to go back and change it." Next, Jashinsky expects to build a website and plan the grand-opening weekend festivities, which will feature fitness classes and live music to really entice local teens to join the club.
Finalizing her real estate location is another priority-at press time, she had her eye on the La Cienega-Robertson area of Los Angeles. And as busy as she is, Jashinsky sees nothing but possibilities on the horizon. "As it gets closer to reality, there are so many things that need to be done-and I'm keeping my eyes open for the right people [to partner with]." Will Jashinsky achieve all that and more? Find out in March 2006's "Biz 101" column.