As a former college athlete and avid fitness buff, Brian Wesley was well aware of the time and attention required to properly recover from a workout. After being referred to cryotherapy by a friend, Brian was so impressed with the immediate results, he knew this was something that could help a lot of people. Using his retirement funds earned in 14 years of working in education, Brian purchased the location and equipment for a new cryotherapy and alternative therapy center, and business has been booming.
David Nilssen, Guidant CEO and co-founder, had a chance to interview Brian to learn more about his business, challenges he faces and what he most enjoys about small business ownership.
No time for a video? Here’s the transcript:
David: All right thank you for tuning in today, my name is David Nilssen. I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of Guidant Financial. One of the best parts of my job is getting a chance to talk to people that we’ve helped find financing and hear a bit about their businesses, and what they’re doing. Today we’re talking with ?Brian Wesley? out of Cedar Hill, Texas who owns a business called NowCryo. Brian thanks for being with me today.
Brian: Well thank you for having me and our business is CryoNow. But when we got our website we had to find a way to get a dot com so we just changed it backwards to nowcryo.com but our business name is CryoNow.
David: CryoNow, okay. While it’s not uncommon it’s funny, you look at these new businesses that are being formed, you see people using phonetic spellings annd backwards — it’s getting more competitive online. So, I can understand why you did that. Well maybe you can start with just at a high level what it is that you do?
Brian: Well basically we help people feel better. We use therapeutic recovery services. A couple of our top services would be the cryotherapy, that’s what we use to cold to help the body recover. So, we use very low temperatures, blow it over the top layer of the skin for two to three minutes and the benefits are amazing, when it comes to cryotherapy.
Now not only do we do cryotherapy we do Ozone Sauna Therapy. So, going from cold to hot it’s a steam sauna, but we flood the body with oxygen — a lot of benefits to doing that. So, the cryo is three minutes, the ozone is 30 minutes and then next we have what is called compression therapy. We have the blood flow and speed up recovery using compression technology. For your legs hips and arms and then we also use the massage therapy. So, we’re just finding natural ways to help people feel better and doing it without medicine.
David: Fantastic, so I think I’ll just speak for myself pretty familiar with the benefits of oxygen or oxygenation, I’m an avid fan of massage. But I actually have no experience with cryotherapy and I think I saw this recently on Shark Tank.
David: Did I see that?
Brian: You saw that and we actually know him. The guy that was on Shark Tank that owns Glacé Cryotherapy. He’s an awesome guy and he’s made some great deals and he’s actually going into LA Fitness. So, once it goes well in LA Fitness out in California he wants to bring it here to Texas. So, we may partner up to where we can actually run the ones here when he comes to Texas.
But cryotherapy, your brain goes into survival mode basically, and it encourages blood to leave skin and muscles, and rotate in the core area of your body. Because you need your organs to survive, not just, not your arms or legs. So that’s oxygenated blood, nutrient-rich blood. When you come out, it goes back throughout the whole body. The benefits of lower inflammation, pain, soreness being reduced, better sleep, better energy, burning calories, tightening of the skin, producing collagen, it’s a lot of benefits, of doing cryo. But the big thing is, not only are the celebrities doing it, but the athletes. The athletes are putting it in their recovery centers and so, before you know it, it’s going to be everywhere.
David: That’s funny. The earlier adopters are certainly starting to get attention because I have seen the concept around, again no experience personally. How did you come up with the model?
Brian: Well, here’s what happened. I’m an ex-athlete, I played football for Texas A&M University. I was 14 years in the education system made it all the way to Principal. So I was starting back, running and lifting weights and I was hurting tremendously. I was really hurting bad. So, somebody told me “Hey, go do cryotherapy and some more therapeutic services and see how you feel.”
Well David I went 3 days straight I was sold. I said look, this is not a gimmick, it works, it worked on me, I said there was a need, there was a vacancy, there was an opportunity. It wasn’t in our area, most of them were in the North part of Dallas, we are here in the South, Suburb city hills suburb of Dallas and said “You know what, let’s take a chance and let’s bring here and let’s see how the people will react,” and we’re going on year three.
David: Good for you, congratulations well most, as you know most small businesses don’t make it to year three, and we’ve been fortunate as a company to see much higher success rates. I’m excited to see that you’re in year three and still so excited. So, tell me about, how is the business going?
Brian: The business is going well. My dad had to tell me he was like, because I don’t know anything other than success, right? Being an athlete, moving up in an education system. So, all I know is success and my dad was like, you have to be happy that you’re making money. People don’t make money in their first year, the second of business and you’re making money.
So, the thing is, it’s not about making the money it’s about helping people feel better. That was the whole goal, I wanted to help people. I was helping the teachers, I was helping students. But now on another level, we’re just helping people to feel better and that’s the ultimate good. So, we’re adding new modalities, we’re finding new things and you know we eventually want to open up one more. So, business is good.
David: Good yeah that’s sort of virtuous circle, right? It’s you provide a great service that people value and you can make money. Business can be sustainable so I think it’s great to hear that you’re doing well on both fronts and feeling like you making a difference. What is the revenue model by the way?
Brian: The revenue model, now when you say revenue model, you mean?
David: How do you get paid?
Brian: Oh! Yeah well, we don’t insurance. So, a lot of people want to do it but they can’t afford it and they ask us if we take insurance. So, we do take the Health Spending Accounts and Flex Spending [Accounts] that’s the only insurance that we take but mostly cash, check, credit.
David: Got it. Are you guys membership based, are you, do people just buy sessions how does that work?
Brian: Well they do both, we have clients and we have members.
Brian: So, they are able to buy packages where that will bring the price down or they can join us as the 30-day member no contracts, personally I didn’t like contracts. So, I said “You know what, I’m not going to make people go into contracts with me.” So, they get 30 days to come as much as they like, that’s the best value and so we have both clients and members.
David: Cool, well I just want to underscore something because I think it’s really important. A lot of times people go into business and they are so worried about making money that they forget that the customer experience is highly connected with profitability right? So, I love the fact that you said that, I don’t want to be tied into a contract so I’m not make my customers. That’s the inverse of the way that a lot of new business owners think, so congratulations.
Well let’s talk about day one so, you came up with this idea, you’re excited about it, you got your equipment, you do your built down, you got your location and now day one doors open. What happens?
Brian: Well day one the door is opening, this would be pretty funny we opened December now of 2014 and you got to understand we did Cryo right, it’s cold.
Brian: So, what a way to open. But we had an open house and we had people coming through the snow to do the Cryo. So, it’s not what people think you know as far it being so cold and it’s freezing my tissue. But they day one people saw the benefits. It was just, we had people sign up to become members because at first a lot of people we invited athletes the running clubs the people who work out gym rats.
Day one they saw the benefit and that was cool, that was really cool. You talked about customer service. They saw the customer service, they saw the little things that we did for them. We had to get our pricing right. I mean there is no way that we can price like North Dallas can price because just the disposable income is totally different. We had to play with the pricing and see what fits our area and we found that. So day one was exciting, they saw our spirit, they saw our customer service and they were very happy. We had to give away a lot free in the beginning though.
David: Yeah that’s the way it goes you get people to come in and try it and if they like it, then they may become your best marketing piece right?
Brian: Yes sir.
David: Tell me a little bit, I love talking about the positives and the exciting parts about owning a business, being [a business owner] myself. I love coming to work every day. But this is not between you and I because technically it’s going to be broadcast all over the internet. So, between you and I and everyone else that watches this, owning a business is hard too. I’m just curious from your perceptive what’s been the hardest thing or the most surprising thing since opening a business?
Brian: In my opinion it’s what to spend the money on. Because so many people I am noticing when you’re in business come after you for you to spend money with them. But we’re trying to get money and people to spend money with us. What’s the best bang for the buck to get our name out, to get our brand out, to get people to come in here and try the services. Kind of just knowing the professional services to use to make sure we stay legal, to make sure that we find creative ways to keep most of our money.
So, maybe if I can do it all over again I would probably finance most of our equipment. We got our money and we didn’t want to be in debt so we paid cash. So, if you would ask me if we could do anything different it would probably be just financing everything instead of just drooping the money for the equipment and the machinery.
David: Got it. So, in terms of growth plans, so you’ve been in business now for over three years and things are going well. What’s your focus for 2017?
Brian: Well the focus for 2017 and being in business and going into our third year, we want to open up one more. There is a need in an area where there is not one like this and it’s kind of similar to our neighborhood here.
So, I think the goal for 2017 is to save, another goal is to open up another one of these facilities kind of maybe mid-March we can jump into the Spring. We’ve hit our goal as far offering another service, another top notch therapeutic services everybody is knowing about. Just getting that out in 2017 as far as that Ozone, using the oxygen because that is just huge. Just making some more strategic partnerships.
David: Yeah it sounds like you guys are really trying to expand or build become the hub I should say for non-traditional therapeutic services so very cool. What about alternative I asked you about the hardest thing, what’s been the best thing? You know the profit aside and the services aside, what’s been the best thing for you and your family?
Brian: I think it’s the relationships we have with our members. We have some members that have been with us since day one. That’s been awesome to just see their family, for them to see our family grow and just for people to walk out of here feeling better. I mean that’s just the ultimate thing because the whole goal was I want to help people. I didn’t know I was going to help people but I’m helping people feel better.
If we can do that and put a smile on their face and that’s been one of the best joys of the business, and flexibility than being able to do more with the family to be able to leave, to go here and there, able to do it. That’s a cool thing.
David: Very. I guess the last thing because as we get this information out there and people start to hear your story. A lot of people are going to be looking at this I’m sure are probably working for another company or in transition and thinking that they, one day want to own their own business. So, what piece of advice would you want to leave a new or potential entrepreneur with?
Brian: I would say don’t have any regrets. If you feel lead to do it, do it. But in my opinion you have to have already laid down a foundation somewhere. Like I laid down a foundation of 14 years in education. So, we had this teacher retiring it’s kind of like a 401(k) for teachers. So, with that foundation the money is there, and to find out that I could use that money to start my business and it wouldn’t be taxed heavily, to where I would have enough to start this business was very good.
And not knowing about Guidant and having someone tell us about it and hey this is what you could do. It was a great move for us, great move for us. So, in my opinion you should really have a passion about it, you really should have the want to, to want to do it and to help people. Going in the right mind frame and just don’t have any regrets.
But you know my wife, the only reason why my wife really agreed was she said, well you got your teacher certification, your principle certification. People don’t grab onto this, you just go ahead and go back. But we haven’t went back and it’s pretty cool.
David: Yeah well I think you know the idea of using your retirement funds to invest in your own business, I think it’s intuitive to entrepreneurs. Someone like you or me, because we can invest in ourselves, we believe we can reign as you said earlier, being an athlete. Success is the only option right? There is no plan B you just press forward.
David: Well I think it’s helpful for people coming out of the gates not to have the same overhead than most small businesses would initially take on. Now as you’re saying you’re ready to open up your second location and maybe that’s a good option for you this time around because you know the model works and you believe the second is going to be just as successful. So, I agree with you, be passionate about what you do or at least about the customers that you serve and the rest takes care of itself.
Well Brian I appreciate making the time to just share your story with us today and best of luck to you in the future.
Brian: Well thank you, David and thank you for doing what you do, helping people start their passion and you have a great day and thank you as well.
David: Thank you.