Why This Startup Co-Founder Became a Franchisee One would think raising three kids and acting as CMO for a tech startup would be enough of a challenge, but Riza Ayson wanted more.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting one business in a lifetime would be enough for many entrepreneurs. But those entrepreneurs are not Riza Ayson.
Seven years ago, Ayson co-founded a group texting app company, Texting Forward, where she remains CMO today. Thinking about opening a second company, Ayson wanted to investigate a model where she would have more support and wouldn't have to launch from the ground up. She discovered 9Round, a kickboxing franchise, first as a client. Soon, however, she knew it was the perfect fit for her second business.
Here's what this franchisee has learned exploring different types of entrepreneurship.
Name: Riza Ayson
Franchise owned: 9Round in Fountain Valley, Calif.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Five months. I signed my franchise agreement in June and my doors have already been opened for one month.
I started my first business from the ground up. I founded TextingForward.com, LLC, a cloud-based mobile platform software that enables you to text large groups and simple one-on-one texts with four partners almost six years ago. After that, I knew that my next business would be some sort of franchise where I would get guidance.
I had no idea it would be 9Round at the time. However, about a year and a half ago I had my daughter Layla and gained about 50 pounds. When she was six months old, I started to work out at a 9Round. After being a fitness instructor for 12 years, I was so shocked how fast my baby weight was coming off that I was sold on this concept.
I was the success story. I lost 12 pounds, 11.5 inches and 3 percent body fat in just two months, working out for only half an hour a day. I knew that this is what I wanted to do moving forward, helping more people get to their goal weight in a quicker time frame.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
During college, I became a fitness instructor to help pay my way through school. I continued on this path while securing a career in advertising and media. I started working at an ad agency and then worked in sales for Tribune and Advance Publishing. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans where I was living at the time. I was going through a divorce and the two houses that I owned had flooded with over 10 feet of water in them. That forced me to move and start over.
That's when I ended up in Los Angeles. I landed a job with Internet Broadcasting as the director of regional sales before starting TextingForward.com, LLC. In 2009, I started this company and am still the Chief Marketing Officer of TextingForward.com.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Again, I was a member first and saw from my own experience how effective this workout was and know that I needed to make this my business -- literally. I can talk to my members from own experience and they can see the passion in my voice when I talk about 9Round.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent about $85,800 before opening my doors.
Franchise Fee: $18,000
Lease Deposits, Utilities, Insurance: $10,000
Build Out (Contractor + supplies): $25,500
Equipment + MyZone system: $16,000
Licenses and Permits; $2,500
External Signage: $8,000
Marketing & Miscellaneous (Office equipment): $3,500
Training Program + Travel: $2,300
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
9Round corporate office really does an amazing job of giving you the blueprint you need to open your doors. I followed their advice to a tee and then reached out to a couple of the California franchisees that were already opened to get a better sense of estimated costs, since everything was more expensive out here in California. But again, the majority of what I needed to know came from corporate and their incredible 4-day training program at headquarters in Greenville, S.C.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Site location. I really thought it was going to be a lot easier to find a location for the gym. But, there was so much to consider including price, parking, surrounding neighborhoods/businesses, foot traffic, competition, etc. From the time I signed my agreement to the time I signed my lease took over three months. And then a little after one month after that, my doors were opened!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Choose a franchise that you believe in. It will make the whole process so much easier! And the "sales process" will be much easier as well. It won't feel like you are "selling!"
What's next for you and your business?
I would love to have three locations opened by 2016!