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OrangeTheory owner hits books, then gym


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Dylan Patel

So you’re 21. That’s sure to annoy some and inspire others. Why did you start so young?

I hope it inspires more people! I think college is the perfect time to start something entrepreneurial. Snapchat, Facebook—they all started there. You have all these resources, teachers and mentors. And when I put University of Virginia student in my signature they’ll reach out much faster if they think they can help a student.

Are your classmates envious or looking for a ride in your Bentley?

They think its super interesting, but to be honest, I haven’t paid myself yet and don’t intend to in the coming months. Besides going out to eat and going to movies, I don’t do much. And I have a Honda Accord. If I have one vice, I’d say it’s Taco Bell.

What clicked with OrangeTheory for you, and then Hand and Stone?

I’ve always been antsy to get something going. The thing with OrangeTheory—the brand has exploded so I wanted to get in fast. Now opportunities are drying up, so once you’re in, it’s easier to get another location. I also wanted something in service where you’re dealing with great margins and not dealing with wastage or spoilage, and there’s less competition.

I was thinking of a complementary business that would work with OrangeTheory and had always been intrigued by the massage business. It’s right next door to one of the OrangeTheory locations.

You said the early days were a little rough. How did you remedy that?  

The beginning was the worst. We thought we’d start much better but cash flow was tight. So I slowed it down, took it step by step and used all my resources. I think a key thing was networking, that’s been really important. Finding other franchisees who have gone through this, and they’re all willing to talk.

How did you find your key staff?

Experience and all that does matter, but I’m not one to ask all those standard interview questions. I want to see someone who is super-enthusiastic and willing to work. If I see that, I’ll hire on the spot. That’s all I care about and it’s worked out perfectly.

Nicholas Upton

Staff writer Nicholas Upton asks what makes multi-unit operators tick—and presents their slightly edited answers in this column in each issue. To suggest a subject, email nupton@franchisetimes.com.

What was the best advice you received?

The best advice was from my dad and it’s a philosophy my family uses all the time: Don’t chase the money; work hard at it and the money follows.

You've tweaked that a bit for franchising?

Don't chase the money. If you work hard at it, and the concept is right and the market is good, the money will follow.

Who has helped you along the way?

My parents helped me out on the equity side of the stores, but debt was just from local community banks. My parents are also in the franchising world with hotels and stuff, so being able to ask them any questions is great. But besides that it’s just me running it.

What’s next?

I have about a year left in my undergrad. I’m also toying with an idea of a Mexican fast-casual place that I’m working on. I eventually want to get my MBA.

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