I’m sitting at my regular table at the Hopworks Bike Bar on North Williams street (my office), and it’s starting to hit me. I just sold the gyms!
I’m letting a huge part of my life for the past 6 years go. In April of 2008, my wife, Danielle and I moved to the Alberta District of Portland. She was finishing up her last internship to become a sonographer, and I was coming to start my first real business. I had been self employed before, but never with any responsibilities beyond doing a job and collecting payment (as a handyman, musician, or personal trainer). I’d rented out a garage in Seattle as a personal training studio, but nothing like what I was about to do.
If I would have known how much work, worry, and adventure it would have become, I’m not sure if I would have done it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for taking risks, being innovative, following your dreams and all that, but this was beyond anything I could have imagined.
But I did it! With a lot of help, I started a gym that generates electricity through solar and human power and uses 85% less energy than normal gyms per square foot. I franchised a successful gym in Belmont (owned by Dan Caplan), invented a grid-tied spin bike and co-founded an electricity generating exercise equipment company, started up a second gym in Sellwood, got on CNN, in Entrepreneur Magazine, and lots of other places. I avoided bankruptcy a couple times, finally found the formula to cashflow the gyms, and now have come full circle and am selling my first business!
Before going any further, I have to thank my family for the tremendous amount of support they have given me since opening The Green Microgym. My wife has worked her ass off, kept our finances in the black even during the lean times, and supported me to keep making it happen. My mom has helped financially, emotionally, and by helping with childcare. My dad, Jim, and stepmom Lynda have been there from the beginning, helping create the first Green Microgym logo and coming up with the name (so glad we didn’t go with “Lighten Up” – sorry dad!). My kids, Charlie and Violet, whom I am lucky enough to have been able to spend lots of time with as a stay at home dad, helped me put all of the business stuff in its proper perspective.
Through the years, I’ve made a bunch of great friends, and lost a few. Looking back, I see some major mistakes I made, and also realize now that going into business with people, even under the best of circumstances, carries a lot of risk. I want to thank everybody who has worked with me on The Green Microgyms. You played a huge part in its success, even if it didn’t always feel that way (or if it still doesn’t).
So what happens now? I’ve sold the gyms to a great local couple, Aaron and Summer Morris. They are going to call the gyms Ecopower Fitness (www.ecopowerfitness.com) and I’m sure they are going to inject a new level of enthusiasm and success into the gyms. I wish them the best.
I’m keeping The Green Microgym, Inc. going, because I still have the drive to realize my dream of seeing every piece of exercise equipment in the world generating electricity and powering stuff. I’ll be selling SportsArt Fitness’ Grid Tied Electricity Generating exercise equipment (the only legitimate commercial quality green equipment solution out there), continuing to innovate on The UpCycle Eco-charger Bicycle Generator, and helping people start up their own Green Gyms (I’ll be documenting all the experiences I’ve gathered and putting it into some sort of instructional format), either on their own or as a Green Microgym licensee.
I’ll also be working for my cousin’s software startup company, and spending a lot more weekend time with my family.
In closing, I wish I had some world changing insights or advice I could pass on from this experience. But I don’t. Just a bunch of obvious-in-hindsight observations:
- Make more money than you spend, and you will reduce your stress level by more than 1000%
- Get organized (seriously)
- Never give up
- Put your family first
- Be honest (as honest as you can be)
- Hype and revenues are not correlated in any way that you can ever count on
- “Build it and they will come” is a recipe for disaster
- There are a lot of really awesome people out there who will help you, but you are not entitled to any help from anyone ever, so don’t act like you are.
- Whatever you are thinking – there are a lot of people out there who are thinking the same thing. If you can find them, or they can find you, it’s pretty awesome.
- This is the time to make the world a better place. Technology has put us in a position to do all kinds of amazing things that were only available to those with unlimited resources before. You can make just about anything, but…..
- The laws of physics are real.