Lawrence Yoga Collective
Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator
Lawrence Yoga Collective is a yoga and fitness studio designed to meet the needs of all area residents. We plan to offer high quality instruction with well-trained and experienced teachers on a donation basis.
This week has been the busiest one yet. Trying to balance the physical labor needed to get the studio ready along with marketing and preparing for the final pitch has been quite the juggling act. The good news is that the accelerator program has put in in such a great mindset that I'm finding I'm much more efficient than I was even a few weeks ago. The more I refine my model, the easier it is to work in the correct places as there are so many fewer unknowns.
The last two days were largely about the pitch. I had my final in person mentor meeting on Tuesday. It was nice that we had more time than usual so we were able to sit down and have a bite to eat at El Taller before moving upstairs into the studio space to have our meeting. It's been great to connect with John and Gary as people in addition to the great work they've done as mentors. They're both mazingly accomplished people and I feel very honored to have had their help through these last three months.
I had done very little of the actually pulling together of the final pitch before the last meeting. While I thought I knew what I had to say, I was totally unsure of the structur of the presentation. This final meeting was very helpful as having all of us brainstorm made a lot of things much more clear. One of our biggest challenges was to figure out how to best reprresent the financial projections in a way that required very few words. The ten minutes flies by very quickly and a picture is indeed with 1000 words.
Yesterday, I took the day off from my day job and spent many hours adjusting and refining the pitch as well as refining my financial numbers to more accurately reflect my quarterly projections. I was able to come up with an outline for the pitch as well as rough sketches of how I wanted to represent the financial numbers. In addition, I had notes for how many and what slides I needed. I was able to verbally go though the pitch and time it out and it looks like I can squeak by in under 10 minutes. I still want to make things a bit more crisp as the timing is a bit too close for comfort.
With the outline done, I took a breakl to go the the Innovator Mixer in Lowell. This was the first one of these that I had intended and I had no idea what I had been missing out on. It was a fantastic exprience and offered great networking opportunities. I met a number of Lawrence residents who were very excited about the yoga studio. Thse opportunities are great as the positive feedback feeds me to want to get out in the world and spread my ideas even more.
After the mixer, I came back home to try to work on the most difficult part of my slide deck. I wanted to make a clean simple chart that represented fiver quarters of financial data in some simple bar graphs. This was easy for me to draw on paper but I had great fear of the Excel chart tool. It turned out that the tool wasn't nearly as scary as I had feared and I was able to get my data in reasonable shape and still get to bed at a decent hour. But still, I had no slides.
This morning was time to create a rough draft of the pitch. I decided that for tonight's practice pitch I would put no effort into making the slides pretty. I just wanted to get the ideas into Powerpoint and see how it flowed and was received. So I was able to get that together. I'm still not very happy with presenting something that is so ugly, but it's likely I will be refining it based on feedback so why not pretty it up after I refine the content?
So, I'm sure this update sounded about as busy and manic as my last 48 hours have been. Sorry if rading it makes anyone twitchy and nervous, but I hear yoga classes are good for curing that stuff. I think I know a place to get good yoga starting on March 16. let me know if you want me to share the secret.
It's been a while since I've blogged sp I thought I'd catch up a bit. It's hard to believe that we only have two weeks lieft in the accelerator program. It's all about the pitch at this point. We had another go with our three minute pitch last week and this week we practice the ten minute pitch. I need to get my pitch work in gear. While I've thoyght about the contents of the ten minute pitch quite a bit, I haven't had much time to actually pull it together. I need to go all out on Minday and Tuesday so I will have something ready to go for our trial runs this week.
In terms of goals, this has been a big week. I think I'm getting close to finalizing all three of my goals. This week I got the keys to my space and have started getting it ready for opening day (now set for March 16). Yeterday I bought all of the paint and supplies and today I scrubbed and prepped all of the walls for painting. The space is going to look great once I get it painted. We also have a rough idea of how to utilize the space in a better way. The front will be devoted to the practice space and the back will be used for a fun nd comfortable loung area. I really want to promote a sense of community so I think having the warm and inviting lounge area will give the studio a feel that is different from anything else in the area.
The pricing model has also been finalized. As everyone knows, it's important that I operate on a donation basis but I also want to have standard suggested prices for students. So, I (with help from my mentors and David) came up with this.
- Suggested base rate - $12
- Pay it forward rate - $17 (pay extra to help another student get class)
- Pay what you can rate - student's choice
I'm also offering 10 class cards and monthly rates with a base and pay it forward rate.
All of my financial projections are based upon counting only non-donation students so I feel like I've chosen a fee structure that is more than competitive with other area studios and allows me to make a profit.
Finally, my final goal is marketing. I have a huge list of places and people to market to and I have sent out the files for my new business cards and grand opening promo postcards. I should have printed materials in by the end of this week so I will have over two weeks to hit the streets and get the word out before opening day. There's a lot to do but the excitement will carry me forward to opening day.
My big push through this week will be to update and complete my website to match the new company look and to get moving on painting the space. Things are moving quickly but everything feels very under control today.
I feel like I've been going through a slow period since I signed my lease. It's time to pick things back up. I have a number of major pushes to get done before the end of the program.
- Get the space ready for the students
The major issues here are paint and lighting. I need to paint the entire space. Thankfully a good portion of the space is brick but ceilings are high on the two walls that need paiting and I'll be getting very familiar with tall ladders this month.
The current lighting is flouresent and I need to rig up something to provide a better form of light. Since I'm not going to be in this space long-term, I don't want to put money into track lighting so I'm hoping to put in place an elegegant but inexpensive solution.
There is also a small amount of furniture to acquire and set up but that's pretty simple stuff.
- Market like a madman
I need as many people as possible to know I exist before opening day. In order to do this, I need to compete my marketing materials. This mainly consists of the website and a promotional postcard. I'm hoping to get the website done and the postcard out to print over the weekend. This means I can hit the streets and promote for three weeks before I open. This is good pressure for me as this deadline forces me to tie up all loose ends. One key element here is the pricing model. I got some great advice on this from David last night and hope to finalize those ideas with my mentors this week.
- Prepare my pitch
This is something I think about from time to time but haven't been putting real planning into. It would be easy to skimp on this as I focus my energies on opening day, but I think it's important to do a good job at this. I like the outline that David provided as it make me do some things that I have been leaving on the back burner. For instance, tonight I updated my financial projections through early next year. Even though I increasd some of my expenses, I'm showing that I will be able to make a living at this with fairly reasonable business projections.
I plan to spend some time making sure I have answers for all the bullet points in the outline. I will probably make another pass at the business planning canvas as well to see what I've learned since my last attempt. Once all that is done, I'll turn off the left brain and figure out how to tell a compelling story around my business.
It all sounds so easy when I put it in simple terms like that. This is one of the reasons I like doing this blog. Thoughts that seem muddled and difficult seem a lot clearer once I start putting the words on paper. I'm going to go off and turn these thoughts into a todo list now.
Last night's session with Lydia and Josh was probbaly my favorite so far. It also solved a problem I've been thinking about for years. At my previous studio, I used a filtered water service to provide free water for my students. My goal was to avoid the use of disposable plastic. This was great. I felt good about my business and the students loved the service. I had always wanted to sell reusable bottles but companies like Nalgene and Klean Kanteen were expensive and had fairly large minimum wolesale orders. Cuppow solves this problem for me. I'll now be able to offer students a Cuppow paired with a Ball jar for cheaper than a Nalgene and make a small profit.
I contacted Josh and am all set to make an order from him. This is a triple win. Josh makes a sale and I have an item to sell at a small profit. Plus we take a small load off of the environment. That's a lot of good coming from such a simple transaction.
To top things off, this sale also validates the idea that getting out of the building and talking about your project with no expectations of profit does pay off. Josh sold a dozen (and hopefully more in the future) Cuppows just by being gracious enough to come help out the Sandox. I also suspect that Lydia will sell more than a few sweet treats after supplying a few samples last night.
Yesterday was a big day. I signed a lease for my space and will have the keys on February 14! Most of the week was spent getting all the pieces together for that. I had to get the lease checked out by one of my mentors, finalize my insurance quotes and figure out my cashflow for the first few months of operation. It feels good to have one of my goals 100% complete.
Now that this is done, I can start marketing for real. I found it hard to get much real customer feedback without having a real space to advertise. Now I can finalize my website and print marketing and start to reach out to people in the real world. I plan to get in touch with all of the people who have already reached out through the web as well as begin my marketing to local businesses and residences. I still hope to have one or two special classes for early customers, but the timing of that will depend upon how long it takes for me to get the space set up. I have to do some painting and figure out how to impove the lighting and I haven't quite figured out how long that will take.
That gets me to the number one topic for this week's mentor meeting. We need to spend some time brainstorming a new plan is for validating the customers and discuss the pricing model. My previous plan was based upon doing reagular classes a couple times a week but given that I don't get the space until aq few weeks before opening day, this doesn't really make sense any more. I also need to refine my pricing model proposal and get that to my mentors for discussion this week.
Following that, my time will be split on getting the marketing materials ready for launch date and following up on whatever customer/pricing information needs to be done after this week's meeting.