Small Business Success Story: Entrepreneurship Found a Good Sport

Christopher Villa made a lifelong dream come true when he purchased an i9 Sports franchise in 2006. “I think I decided when I was about 4 years old that I’d like to be my own boss, so I started putting the pieces in place during my corporate career in the footwear business,” said Villa.

Now, he leads one of the most successful i9 regions in the country.

The decision to purchase an i9 Sports franchise was an easy one. “When we were looking for a business to start, we wanted something that was community driven. i9 seemed to fit the bill, not to mention the fact that I’m very passionate about sports and I played sports all my life so it seemed to be a good fit.”

i9 provides team sports for children in a positive atmosphere and removes the burden of a crazy schedule for families by hosting the practices on the same day each week.

Villa found Guidant Financial through a franchise broker and never looked back. “One of the things I can say about Guidant Financial is [that] they’re very on top of compliance and very on top of making sure that your customer satisfaction is very high.”

As for the benefits of owning a business, Villa says there are many. “I’ve been able to coach my son’s baseball team; my wife and I are able to take trips and do the things that we love to do.”

He looks forward to starting his next business, a mobile gaming truck franchise, in a matter of weeks.

Read more about Christopher in Entrepreneur magazine.

No time for a quick video? Read the transcript here:

Chris Villa: My name is Christopher Villa and I own a franchise: i9 Sports. The i9 Sports value proposition is about fun and convenience. We try to do things one day a week [to make things convenient] for parents. We also are very strict about our positive culture within the i9 experience.

We’ve serviced kids ages 3 to 14 — this year we’re adding 15 year olds, so we continue to grow that category and we service kids in five sports: basketball, flag football, soccer, baseball and now we’re adding lacrosse in Spring 2014.

I’m kind of an energizer bunny. I do a lot of things, I snowboard, I play sports, I also spend a lot time coaching my son’s baseball team. I do a lot of furniture building and we’re currently going through a home remodel as well.

I heard about Guidant Financial through a broker when I first started to investigate franchises and I investigated a couple of different opportunities. Guidant seemed to be the right fit for what I wanted to accomplish and it’s been a great journey with them.

Jenna (i9 Parent): My name is Jenna, my oldest is 13 and started the i9 program when he was 7. My youngest started when he was 5. We feel like probably 11 seasons we’ve been with i9. We choose i9 mostly for convenience. It’s organized, we’re a busy family so one day a week works perfectly for our schedule and we appreciate the core values that they promote for the kids.

I’m a school teacher, so I actually take that with me to my extra activities I do after school with my students in the school winning club program. I foster those same values with them too.

My oldest’s first season, he was 7 years old, he was a first grader, we knew nobody, we got to know one family and our team was kind of the bad news bearers of the league, but we ended up going to the i9 ball at the end with six kids on the team. i9 brought us together, so we feel pretty happy about the relationships that it has fostered.

What we’ve had experience with the medals is they usually give it to a child who promotes the sportsmanship theme of the week or player of the game. So, I’m assuming he [my son] did score a touchdown today so maybe that’s what he got it for or got sportsmanship, one or the other.

Chris: Play hard and play safe. If I was starting a business today, I would use Guidant and the reason why is because when you start a business there is this big wall of requirements and compliance you have to worry about starting a business and what Guidant does is they navigate you through that very easily and almost kind of take it off your plate.  I think that’s something that’s really powerful because what you really want to be doing is focusing on how to start your business and how to market your business not so much on the paperwork and all the stuff that’s involved with getting funded.

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