Author: Sean Ellis, BSU student
Future innovators and technological developers need a strong force to navigate the sea of national and international markets. People all over the world are capable of unimaginably wonderful things when provided the proper resources, guidance and patents. However, securing the connections necessary to gain investment and development can be difficult. As well as the opposing position of finding a product, service, or development that is worth investing in. Once a product receives investment and a design is put forth, carefully constructed patents can surround and control the invention and design. Strong Force, first of its kind, was born from recognition of the opportunity to increase the impact of innovation and reward both investors and inventors by designing intellectual property portfolios that control valuable future categories of innovation. Interviewing with CEO and company founder, Charles Cella, I was able to delve deeper into what drives Strong Force.
The company Strong Force was established in 2015. One of the Managing Directors, Charles Cella of Pembroke, MA, envisioned a company that would organize a unique set of creative and business competencies, while aligning with his passions and experience. Originally from Kentucky, Charles earned his first degree in physics at Princeton University, studied quantitative economics at Edinburgh University in Scotland, and received a law degree from the University of Virginia. After an early career in technology legal work, he combined technology and business expertise in a number of successful innovation projects across different industries. Combining his background and expertise with a desire to advance innovation, Charles Cella spearheaded the formation of Strong Force with his fellow Managing Directors.
Technology is without a doubt a key factor of innovation in this modern era. “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” -Victor Hugo. Strong Force intends to be there when an idea’s time has come, to catalyze innovation around the idea in the market, and to provide a degree of control over the idea for its creators with a well-designed patent portfolio.
What exactly is the purpose of a patent though? A patent is an official government-issued right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention. According to Strong Force, designing patents for leadership is a four-step process. Covering an invention with patents enables a sustained control of market category leadership. It unlocks creativity to capture key drivers of IP advantage, preserve optionality, guides prioritization, and optimizes resource allocation. Ultimately, it supports successful licensing programs and commands high values. This methodology constructed by Strong Force can be better visualized below.
I inquired about Strong Force’s involvement with technology and Mr. Cella’s response: “It’s the water we swim in. Technology is the primary driver of business growth today.” His company is the embodiment of a recognition that there is a need for a business to increase the impact of innovation as well as providing rewards to investors. Strong Force is modeled to allow people to remain in control of their job and to assist in gathering various forms of innovation and investments across multiple platforms. Then finalizing the process with a series of protective patents in order to maximize connectivity, profits, and growth. Just as the water we swim in is fluid, so is the usage of a product in most cases. As a product is used and handled, a previously unidentified use may be identified as an unintended benefit. Strong Force’s response to unintended benefits: As a category matures and prevailing use cases emerge, we can use a strategically positioned portfolio to drive participation, cooperation, and shared investment across the ecosystem while allowing owners to maintain the desired degree of control.
Strong Force, a leader of innovation, a driver of technological development, and a guardian of intellectual property. This company seeks to increase revenue for all parties by providing the proper protection and accelerating categorical development by inspiring ecosystem participation, cooperation, and investment. The Strong Force process is shaped by diverse competencies, creativity, and senior relationships. Diverse competencies enable Strong Force to understand and anticipate the evolution of an ecosystem, its participants. When navigating the various unruly seas of the open market, when a strong force fills your sails, your ship will travel far. The Strong Force methodology has created billions of dollars in value for clients across a wide array of sectors and helped hundreds of visionary inventors, market leaders, and capital allocators succeed.
Getting to Know Your Local Realtor – An Interview with Suzanne Gelven, Owner of United Realty Express in Raynham, MA
Author: Denise Harvey, BSU student
Suzanne Gelven owner/realtor of United Realty Express, Raynham MA. Suzanne is your local real estate expert, sometimes she is representing a buyer and at other times a seller; her mission is different for both types of clients. Her goal for the buyer is to help them find the best home for their wants and needs and successfully get it at the best price possible. Her goal for the seller is to help them sell their house for the highest amount the market will bear in as short a time as possible. Her years of experience in the real estate market has helped her with becoming an expert in the industry.
Suzanne has been in the real estate business since she was about 18 years old. Suzanne gives credit to her father who was in real estate. Her father owned a lot of multifamily homes in the South Shore area and encouraged Suzanne to get her license at an early age to help him.
Suzanne took a break from real estate, but because of her love and passion for real estate, she could not stay away for too long because it is in her blood. She started back doing real estate part time when her son was getting older. Suzanne loved real estate more than her part time job. It got so busy that she gave up her full-time job and did real estate full time. Going into real estate full time has given Suzanne the flexibility to better accommodate her clients’ schedule.
Having a marketing plan on how to get a clients’ home sold or finding the right home for the clients is very important to Suzanne. These are some of the ways that she markets her clients’ houses. She uses the Multiple Listing System (MLS). (This tool is also what she uses to help determine the market value). She also uses a yard sign, directional signs from the main road into your neighborhood, postcards sent out to neighborhood, social media, Zillow.com, trulia.com and realtor.com to name a few. For her buyers she walks them through the whole process from signing the agreement with her up until closing day!
Suzanne currently lives in Taunton MA, and her office is in Raynham MA. She started her own business in 2010. Suzanne currently has 2 agents working with her. She would like to double her business and have about 5 agents in the next five years. Being very hands on and being an excellent planner has helped her to recruit, train and retain her agents to experts in the industry as well.
Referrals is the best way to bring in customers for Suzanne, therefore, she has developed a database with all her contacts/clients. This database allows her to stay connected with her contacts/clients and has allowed her to send out campaigns as well. Suzanne stays up to date with the latest technology which keeps her ahead of her competition. Also, not having the right tools and technology means missing out on an opportunity. Suzanne also advertises her business on social media platform, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc., which she has a lot of experience and knowledge with. She has a proven track record to find houses for her clients. All her contact information can be found below.
Visit United Realty Express at: 473 South St., Raynham MA
Contact them via:
See what Sellers and Buyers say about her....
Buying or Selling a Home? Call the Real Estate Conveyancing Firm of Kellem and Kellem in Hingham, MA
Author: Tiana Romans, BSU student
Are you looking to buy or sell a house? Why not do it through Kellem and Kellem. This company was founded in 1984 by Steven Kellem and his father Larry Kellem. Steven grew up in Hull, MA and he watched his father growing up running his own small business doing real estate law. At first Steven did not know what he wanted to do with his future so he majored in political science/history, shortly after he realized that was not what he wanted to do so he did what many people do and followed the family business and went to law school. Steven graduated in 1984 and he was a “law clerk” for Caroline Glassman. Justice Glassman was the first women to be appointed to the Main Supreme court and it was also her first year.
Then in 1984, Kellem and Kellem opened their doors. What made Steven want to start this career was that his father, Larry, had a single attorney general practice in their hometown Hull. Larry did everything that had come through the door from real estate to personal injury. Steven saw joining his dad as a huge opportunity to learn from him and also be exposed to different practices. From the beginning and for a few years Kellem and Kellem was having a tough time keeping its head above water. Larry, the father had a heart attack and was unable to work for a long period of time and then Steven’s brother Dave had joined the family business. In the early 1990s there was a steep decline in real estate prices and sales, people just did not have the money to buy or sell. What kept Kellem and Kellem going was the family’s love for the business, they knew this is what they wanted to do. They were able to still run a business but also still be a part of their children’s lives, and not miss out on their important events and games. I asked Steven if there was anything he could have changed, what would it be? He said, “As strange as it sounds, I’m not sure I would do a single thing different, and to be able to say that is a real privilege.” You can see Steven is really proud of his business and what his family has created, they just love their business and want it to succeed. One of the toughest parts of having a business in 2020 is that for Steven it really is a mix of both real estate practice and a business. He has seven attorneys and about twelve staff that depend on the success of the business to be able to help support their own families.
I asked Steven, if a customer was trying to decide between what company they should use compared to his competitors, what would make you stand out? Steven is very confident in his business and he said, “This one is easy. ‘Been there, done that’ we have many years of experience, have dealt with a wide breadth of issues. If we cannot fix it, then it’s likely it cannot be fixed. I do not think this is true of most of our competitors.” This seems to be true because Kellem and Kellem have been open for thirty-five years. Steven also learned from his father who would do more than real estate, so they do have a lot of experience compared to other law offices.
So far while Kellem and Kellem has been opened they have not used social media and online advertisements. They believe in their business being spread around by word of mouth, that if a buyer or seller has a great experience they will tell people. Then that person will search on their strong website. Looking six months into the future Steven sees his company doing great, but obviously the real estate market is great right now and that cannot be controlled. It was a great experience meeting and interviewing Steven Kellem, and all the staff you can tell they truly want the best for their clients and they will not settle for anything less than that.
Visit Kellem & Kellem at:
100 Recreation Park Drive, Suite 101, Hingham, MA
Contact them via:
Author: Radka Barter, BSU student
Jan Hanzl, the owner of GDI Homes, Inc, is a custom home builder who focuses on building or remodeling unique, high-end custom homes. I asked Jan to tell me about his construction company and what sets it apart from other construction companies in the South Shore area.
Jan, let’s start with: Are you from this area?
I am from the Czech Republic but have lived and operated my business for 18 years in the South Shore of Massachusetts. I just recently moved my business from Weymouth to Marshfield.
Tell me about your business. Why did you choose this line of business?
GDI Inc. is a custom home building company established in Weymouth, MA in 2001 to construct single family housing. It is a family-owned business, operated with pride, ethics, and concern.
I originally started making and exporting furniture. I always liked working with wood, creating quality furniture for people to enjoy and maybe pass down to future generations.
When did it start? What Year?
It started about a year after I migrated here from Czech Republic in 2001.
What was it that made you want to start this business?
When I came to America, I had a difficult time making money building and selling furniture. I spent a lot of time looking at beautiful homes built between the mid 1800's to the 1920's all throughout eastern Massachusetts. The workmanship in the wood details was very similar to the quality level in the furniture I built. I felt that I can be successful in restoring these homes, so I started a carpentry finish business.
What was the toughest thing you went through when opening?
Well my English was not as good as it is today so that was the most difficult because you need to communicate clearly with customers. I spent a lot of time watching tv with subtitles which helped me the most. The other thing is getting yourself known. I had no finish carpentry pictures to show new customers. I had to sell myself based on my furniture work.
What inspired you to keep going as you were getting the business off the ground?
I enjoyed the work. I knew if I worked hard, produced quality work, and was good to my customers I knew I was going to be successful.
If you had to start over from day 1 what would you have done differently? Or what was your most difficult challenge?
My most difficult challenge was learning the business administrative part of running a business. Knowing what I know now taking business courses would have made operating a business much less stressful.
What is the toughest part about having a business in 2020?
Finding good quality people. There is a plenty of work but not enough qualified labor force to keep up with the demand.
If a customer was to choose between your business and 3 others just like it, why would you suggest they at least give yours a try ﬁrst? What makes you stand out?
I spend a lot of time with new customers driving them around to see my finished work along with current projects I am working on. I enjoy selling myself to the customer because I enjoy what I do, and I think the customer sees that in my enthusiasm when I talk about their project. I also limit the number of projects to a select few each year. This allows my company and my team to provide hands-on management of each project, guarantees the quality of costumers’ homes, and affords a level of customer service unmatched in this market.
What is the # 1 way you currently bring in new customers?
Word of mouth. I do very little to no advertising. My years of networking with customers, suppliers, and subcontractors has thankfully kept me busy all these years.
Has internet technology (website, online ads, social media, etc) played a big part in your growth and making your company more successful?
Not at all but it eventually made it much easier. Instead of carrying photos, the internet made it more accessible to any potential customers to visit my website and view my work.
Do you feel that internet technology could play a bigger role in your business if you had the
Absolutely, I would like to see if it helps me to find more quality sub-contractors, employees, and potentially grow my business.
If you had to look 6 months to a year into the future where would you like to see your business be?
Well I went from furniture maker, finish carpenter and now a General Contractor. I want to someday get into building small size condominiums or apartment buildings.
Author: Brandon Vincent, BSU student
1) Are you from this local area?
Yes, I grew up in Acushnet, Massachusetts and have been in the New Bedford area all my life.
2) Why did you choose this line of business?
I own a marine welding business. I choose this line of work because I was taught the welding trade in vocational high school, and I enjoyed the welding trade very much.
3) When did it start? What Year?
The welding business started 18 years ago in the year 2002.
4) What was it that made you want to start this business?
In 2002 I had a family member who could not find work. I was in the welding trade when I was age 18 to 22 years old but then went to work at Titleist in the area, making golf balls, for a little more stable career. In efforts to show my family member that there was plenty of work available I called an ad I saw in the local newspaper for a welding job. I was awarded the job and started working for a gentleman that owned a marine welding business. He did not pay me as a regular employee but as a sub-contractor, basically meaning I was self-employed. This led me to expand my operation and create Saucier Welding and Fabricating, not by design, but by circumstance.
5) What was the toughest thing you went through when opening?
The toughest thing I went through when opening was finding qualified workers. As I was a welder as a young man, I assumed everyone had the skill level, not understanding that I was a little more qualified than the next guy. I went through many employees and never really found any decent employees at the beginning, which forced me to work long hours to get the projects done that I was hired to do.
) What inspired you to keep going as you were getting the business off the ground?
I was inspired to keep going because I saw that the progress I was making and the financial gains were well worth the time and energy I was putting into it.
7) If you had to start over from day 1 what would you have done differently? Or what was your most difficult challenge?
If I had to start over from day one, I would have put together a better business plan. I would have bought the proper insurance and withdrew proper taxes and social security from employees. One of the most difficult challenges was once the business was going was to modify employee’s pay to reflect the proper deductions I ultimately needed to take from employees checks, like worker’s comp, unemployment, and social security taxes.
8) What is the toughest part about having a business in 2020?
The toughest part of having a business in 2020 has not changed, for me, from the toughest part of having a business in 2002. Staffing… it is very difficult.
9) If a customer was to choose between your business and 3 others just like it why would you suggest they at least give you a try ﬁrst? What makes you stand out?
If a customer were to choose between my business and a competitor’s business, I would suggest that they try mine first because I am an owner/operator and I have experience on where to spend money and where to not spend money. I believe that is what makes my company stand out more than the next… as I can do the same job for less. In today’s competitive market, constant budget trimming, and competitive pricing is paramount in a successful business.
10) What is the number 1 way you currently bring in new customers?
The way I bring in new customers has not changed from what I have done in the past. Hard work and word of mouth has been the staple of my business for the past 18 years and has worked for me.
11) Has internet technology (website, online ads, social media, etc) played a big part in your growth and making your company more successful?
The internet has not played a part in my business as I am a smaller business and I am on the industrial waterfront of New Bedford, where word of mouth travels quicker than the power of the internet for the welding business.
12) Do you feel that internet technology could play a bigger role in your business if you had the right tools?
I feel like the internet could play a bigger role in my business if I had a solid website along with the proper marketing plan if I wanted to expand my business to other areas of Massachusetts.
13) If you had to look 6 months to a year into the future where would you like to see your business be?
I would like to increase gross receipts by 2% and lower operating costs by 2% in the next 6 months.
Saucier Welding and Fabricating is located at: Antonio Costa Ave, New Bedford, MA
Contact them via telephone: 609-276-5762
Author: Colby Caso, BSU student
An Interview with Owner Michael Reza
Q: So, let’s start with are you from this local area?
A: I am from Arlington originally but currently live in Wellesley Massachusetts.
Q: Tell me about your business. Why did you choose this line of business?
A: I lived in Italy for some time and this is where I fell in love with pizzerias. When I returned to the states, I began a career in finance which lasted for 19 years consisting of mostly banking. Towards the end of my finance career I was working as a corporate lender. In this position I financed many restaurants, and this is where I became familiar with the financial aspects of the restaurant business. This coupled with my dream to open a pizzeria it only made sense for me to chase the dream.
Q: When did it start, What year?
A: In 1995 I became a silent partner in a small pizzeria in Brighton which we now know as Bravo Pizzeria in Quincy. It wasn’t until 1998 when I decided to leave my position at the bank in Boston, to take on my dream full time. At this point I bought out my partners and became the sole owner of Bravo Pizzeria. In the early stages of the business we began wholesaling pizza targeting local small markets like corner stores. We used to sell them frozen Pizzas. Later on, in 2013 I opened a second location in Quincy and closed the original location.
Q: What made you want to start in this business?
A: I wanted to start the Business because of the time I spent overseas in Italy. This is where my inspiration grew of opening my own pizzeria.
Q: What was the toughest thing you went through when opening?
A: I had several challenges during the early stages of the business. Some of which included the legal aspects of starting a business as a corporation and the capital it took to get the business off the ground. I also had to find a location. It wasn’t just finding a location that was important but also understanding the product needs of that location. You need to understand what the people in the area are looking for and how to drive them into your store.
Q: What inspired you to keep going when you were getting the business off the ground?
A: It’s about your personality, its about starting something and seeing it through, it is not all about money. It is about completing what you started. Not everyone sees success the same. Some people see it in money, buying a house and others see it as finishing what they started.
Q: If you had to start over from day 1 what would you have done differently?
A: I would have started doing this at a younger age. Where I could grow the business to more of a multi-chain restaurant as to oppose to what it is today. I would have created more franchise opportunities. I started doing it 14 years ago. I have no regret but starting at a younger age would have helped me grow the business more.
Q: What was your most difficult challenge?
A: The most difficult challenge in any business is staffing.
Q: What is the toughest part about having a business in 2020?
A: Staffing has been my toughest challenge in 2020. It remains the same. The number one issue in small business is staffing. The number one issue in business will always be staffing.
Q: If a customer was to choose between your business and three others just like it why would you suggest they at least give you a try first? What makes you stand out?
A: In order for you to do something like this in your lifetime you have to believe in what you are doing, if you do not believe in your business you will not succeed. Me as a small business, I think that I have the best product out there. A tasty product made with quality ingredients. To top that I have a great team full of good personalities, we create an environment that makes customers enjoy being here. That’s what sets us apart, exceptional quality, great tastes and a clean and welcoming place to enjoy our food. We also have things that set us apart from our competition. We have booths, TV’s, a great selection of draft and craft beer, and giant windows that open up in the summer time that you can enjoy our ice cream by.
Q: What is the number 1 way you bring in new customers?
A: Word of mouth. Luckily, we have not had do any advertising. When you have good quality product and a clean spot, people will talk about you. It creates a buzz and others want to come experience it.
Q: Has Internet technology played a big part in your growth and making your company more successful?
A: Absolutely, that is how people see you these days, they do not go searching for Brick and Mortar anymore. People search via the Internet now. They search for good reviews. Customer convenience is everything. Now a customer can order via text. This has been huge. I am currently transforming our online ordering from our website into a text ordering system. So, you will still go online and place an order, but it will come through as a text as opposed to fax. It is faster, cleaner, and easier for the customer. There are always improvements in technology that can help your business grow. Regardless of how much you think you have it on lock, there is always room for growth.
Author: Wanessa Polo, BSU student
John P. Kolentsas financial services is named after the owner John Kolentsas. John served for three years in the Vietnam War right out of high school. Coming back still very young, trying to figure out what to do, his friend Nick advised him to go to a junior college. Still unsure of his path he decided to major in Accounting with his friend also named John at Quincy Junior College for about a year and a half, took a summer semester at Massasoit, then both transferred to Suffolk University where he earned his bachelor degree in Business Administration with an Accounting concentration.
Right after graduation, he worked with a large CPA firm for about two years but then decided to join a friend who had a small CPA firm in Boston. After three or four years in public accounting, while generating clients preparing the tax returns, he went to the private sector as an auditor for about 4-5 years. Meanwhile, he was building up clientele in the accounting field and was building a real estate rental type of business, then he decided to go on his own 30+ years ago. Although his real estate business was growing too to some extent, his hurries were in accounting. Mostly doing individual taxes (1040) clients and few business clients when he started but grow very quickly.
John shared that starting this business or any successful business, you must be ready to work. The 9 to 5 five days a week was no longer applied to him. He worked as many hours that he needed to get the job. To John, the important thing was and still is to be good to people. Clear communication, honesty, and a good relationship are great tools to connect and build trust with clients. Being openly transparent, providing total disclosure and being himself contributed to his success. His advice was no playing games with people, always put your real card on the table right away so you don’t run to any surprises. John serves his clients with respect. He feels like his clients are the boss and he is there to serve them. Most of his clients are generated from mouth to mouth. No matter how he feels or what is going on in his personal life, John shows up every morning with the mindset to serve.
As a self-employed person, he knew from the beginning that he must be prepared to work. Over the years, challenges with the long working hours and balancing his family occurred. Yet family is number one for him, even with his employees. John says, “When self-employed you create your own opportunity.” The accounting business has his peak, with the 1040 clients cash flows increases from January to April and make enough to sustain yourself. Over the years, he had also built payroll, tax consultant, and corporate and partnership tax return.
Since he learned to connect and be accountable to and available to his clients, through referral is how he generated new clients. John is confident that if his computers break down that will be full in business and go back to sharped pencil and paper to serve his clients. However, the internet help cut down the work process and all is mostly done through the internet. To extend the company, John thinks that he will need a partner with equal knowledge in tax preparation like a CPA or enroll agent because he can only service his clients with the amount of time he has.
Five years from now, John is looking to work less hopefully with a partnership that is will to buy 49% of the business until John can’t physically work anymore. With the agreement that even after that he can come and help during tax season.
Visit John P. Kolentsas Financial Services at:
19 Beaumont Ave, Brockton, MA
Contact them via telephone at: 508-584-0030
Author: Patrick Benedict, BSU student
Round Table Games is a hobby store located in the Carver Square Shopping Center, in Carver, MA. They offer a space for players to come play games like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Pathfinder, and others. Founded by Chris and Candi Zahnzinger in 2015, the store was opened with the goal of creating a space in which people could walk through the door and leave their troubles behind, if only few a little bit. Round Table Games provides an escape to their players in a homey and welcoming environment.
Embracing a third space philosophy, they wanted to build a store that would help people find a fun environment with other players, away from work and home. That is exactly what they have accomplished at Round Table Games – every night you can find a myriad of games going, sometimes lead by Chris, in which potential players are welcome to drop in and have fun. They have thrived doing so, and continue to grow their player base. People are also welcome to come to the store with their own games and have a good time.
The environment and culture of Round Table Games has been built behind a huge effort Chris and Candi. They understand that many types of people want to play games with others, but may not know where or how, or may have challenges in the social realm – all players are welcome, as long as they are there to have fun. Round Table Games is all about hosting social games and fostering the sort of camaraderie that comes with that experience. Chris describes that feeling of joining alongside fellow adventurers as very satisfying, one that can’t be beat by staring into a phone or computer screen – even if get someone little too heated, maybe a little too angry – it’s an experience that’s hard to beat!
The business opened in September 2015; Chris had been working as system administrator, following a passion for customer service. They had been running a weekly gaming group for years, from early in the morning to after midnight, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. Their kids were growing up, and getting involved in gaming as well. With a deep interest in gaming and gaming spaces, and seeing their children really come alive and grow in those spaces, Chris and Candi decided to take the risk to open Round Table Games. To them, it was a space where no one had to worry about religion or politics or what as troubling them, when you’re there you’re just trying to make the “biggest duck egg” or conquer the boss or whatever the game might be.
The store started out on a shoestring budget; sitting on a shelf in the store are dozens of games that they brought from home to start the building the space. They put together fixtures, tables, chairs, and decorations to bring it all together, and hoped for the best – and combined with their extraordinary talent for making players feel at home, the store is now doing great; if one visits their website, they have gaming events nearly every day, for all kinds of players. Creating a welcoming environment for all players is shown in other ways at the store too. When discussing why people would choose their store over others, Chris says it’s all about fit. Chris and Candi want players to feel at home – but they do have to respect the rules, which means no walking around in your underwear! And they also want to build a store where effort is rewarded. They have a robust rewards system, something they developed out of their humble beginnings, trying to figure out the right amount to give away to players. They developed a system of leaderboards, in which when people show up to play, they get points on the leaderboards that they can use to spend in the store. They also run tournaments in which rewards pools are divvied up amongst all players; that way, if you participate, you get to walk away with something. Chris says it has cost them some of the more competitive players, but a key part of their philosophy is that they stick to building their culture and don’t try to fight over other customers: if a player is more competitive and wants to play winner take all, they just aren’t a good fit, and would be happier elsewhere. They also have a rule in which you can’t bad mouth other stores; Round Table Games fosters a positive environment however it can. This has resulted in a great deal of customer loyalty.
Round Table Games is not just a space to play – it’s a space to buy games too. Chris works extremely hard to research the latest in gaming and hobbies, and keeps a well curated inventory. If you come in and ask, they will be able to point you in the right direction, and if they can’t, they will find where to send you. Chris stresses that when customers come in looking for a game, he understands that those people have already used the internet to research it, and may even know more than he does about it – but he’s more than happy to talk about it with you, and try to find the best way to help you with what you need.
Visit Round Table Games today, or give them a call; they’d be happy to have you!
Author: Jack Lovely, BSU student
The Maha Yoga Center in Bridgewater MA Is the perfect place to go for anyone looking to relax and unwind, physically and mentally. The owner, Diane Lagadec, has been operating the Yoga Center since 1993, Diane built the first Studio herself alongside her husband, but since then the Yoga Center has relocated to an area a bit farther away from the hustle, bustle, and traffic found near the center of Bridgewater. I interviewed Diane about her business, and when I asked her what inspired her to start the business, she said “I just really wanted to share what we knew, because I know people are stressed, as a retired school teacher I know how important it is to share knowledge for the benefit of everyone”. I also asked Diane why she chose this line of business, and she said “I had been teaching yoga for years, and my husband and I realized we had friends that had skills like yoga, meditation, massage therapy, and tai chi, so we wanted to bring them all together to one spot”. Diane has made the Maha Yoga Center a staple in the Bridgewater community through her active community service and involvement, she has commited herself to the people of Bridgewater. Clearly the creation and upbringing of the Maha Yoga Center took a lot of willpower and hands on work, when I asked Diane what the toughest thing she went through while opening was, and what inspired her to persevere, she said “the hardest thing I experienced while getting started was a lack of help, I thought more people would join me when I started but It didn’t work out that way, also we have barely any money when we got started, we had to build the first studio ourselves”, Diane is truly a self-made and motivated business owner, and its apparent that a lack of money and support wasn’t enough to stop her from creating the successful business she has today. I asked Diane if there is anything she would change from day one knowing what she knows now, and she said “when you consider the fact that small businesses don’t usually last long, I’d say that I’m happy we are still standing and doing so well, there isn’t much id do differently because I’m so happy about the way everything worked out”, if Diane had made many missteps when she began creating her business, it probably wouldn’t be standing today, therefore, there isn’t much she would change from the beginning. I also asked Diane what the hardest part of having a business in 2020 is, and according to her “The hardest part about owning a business in 2020 is the taxes, it seems like we work awfully hard and still have to give a lot away, but we have a great community and we have overcome many challenges”, Diane has found that small business owners encounter a large amount of taxes to go with their success, but she has been able to overcome this challenge with the support of the community.
The Maha Yoga Center separates itself from similar businesses through price and diversity of services offered, while surrounding yoga studios have single class prices ranging from $13 to $20, the Maha Yoga Center offers a more reasonable rate. When I asked Diane what separates her business from its competitors, she said “because we are very reasonable, our single class drop in rate is $10”, and absolutely no long term commitment is required, the management of the Maha Yoga Center wants to ensure that no one gets trapped in an inconvenient financial situation, a testament to its integrity as a small business. There is also a 10 class-card option for only $80, and private restorative yoga sessions for $55, one of Maha Yoga Centers’ best attributes is it commitment to affordability, because the people who work there don’t want to exclude anyone from what they have to offer.
When I asked Diane what the number one way she brings in new customers is, she said, “Word of mouth works the best, a business person once told me that advertising is essentially like throwing money out the front door, word of mouth and being active in the community is key, everyone who works here has to be an active part of the Bridgewater community and complete community service”, by having all Maha Yoga employees engage in community activities and service, Diane is making a statement, that to be a part of the Maha Yoga Center, is to be a part of the surrounding communities, and those community relationships helps her bring in new business. I also asked Diane if internet marketing has played a big part in the growth and development of the Maha Yoga Center, to which Diane replied, “The internet is a good tool, we have a web page and I send out a weekly information message to everyone who works here, it’s great for communication during snow storms, but in terms of marketing, I prefer word of mouth, not technology” Diane has found that her connection with the community has proven sufficient in terms of the marketing and growth of The Maha Yoga Center, and besides communication with employees and use of the Maha Centers web page, technology does not play a big part in her success. In response to her point of view on technology, I asked her if she believed that technology could play a bigger part in her business if she had the right tools, and she replied “No, I don’t think so, maybe if I was more technologically savvy I could make better posters, but that’s all I would do” Diane has successfully run the business the same way for a long time, and she currently sees no way that an increase in the amount of technology that she uses to run her business would benefit her, she finds that a strong relationship with the Bridgewater community is enough.
Diane’s response to my question about the role that technology will play in the future of her company, prompted me to ask where she sees her business going in the next six months to a year, and she replied, “I’d like to see the business still standing, I don’t feel the need to expand because I like our location, and I’ve seen many businesses expand too much and then collapse, also there is basically no traffic near our current location which is a huge advantage”, Diane doesn’t need to expand her business to be satisfied with the direction its heading in, as far as she is concerned, as long as the business is still standing and engaging with the community of Bridgewater, she is satisfied. Since Diane wants the business to continue on its current path for years to come, I asked her if over time she would like to increase or decrease her involvement with the business and become more of a passive owner, and she said, “I’d like to continue my current work level, I’m the one who does all the checks and handles the various aspects of the businesses so I’d like to do it until I can’t”, Diane currently has no intention of slowing down her involvement with her business, she would like to continue leading by example and handling as much of the workload as she can, for as long as she can.
The Maha Yoga Center also offers an impressive amount of additional services, including a yoga teacher certification class, mediation classes, massage and bodywork treatments, concerts, and counselling sessions. The Yoga teacher certification class includes 200 hours of information and training based around the anatomy, physiology, psychology and philosophy of yoga. The meditation classes include a meditative healing sound bath, which surrounds you with deep immersive and relaxing sounds. The massage and bodywork services include aromatherapy, reflexology, core stone massage therapy, and several other treatments focused on the ears, muscles, and spirit. Some upcoming concerts includes a solo acoustic guitar performer as well as a flute and poetry reading night, although varying musicians are brought in to perform different sets. The various types of counseling available includes individual, family, and couples counseling, as well as hypnosis, health, and wellness coaching. The well trained and fully licensed staff of the Maha Yoga Center share a passion for health and wellness, and they wish to share that passion with both the Bridgewater community, and anyone else who is willing to take a chance and walk through their front door.
Author: Rachel Hoffman, BSU student
While many people use Facebook as a way to kill time, Carver native Aidan Ryan used the popular social media platform as a tool to build his thriving business, Lace Life Society. An avid sneaker-collector since high school, Aidan started a Facebook group called Lace Life that quickly grew to nearly 5,000 members. Upon realizing how many fans he had accumulated, Aidan began designing his own street wear line in 2018, appropriately named Lace Life Society. Aidan and I sat down to talk sneakers, online communities, and the importance of self-expression through fashion.
Q: Can you tell me about how Lace Life Society came to be? I understand that it began as a Facebook group, but how did you decide to start creating your own designs?
A: Well, I’ve always been into fashion. I realized that I had a real passion for sneakers around 2013. I wanted to do something that would be my own, and I always used the hashtag #LaceLifeSociety on my posts in the Facebook group, so I decided to name my company that. I’ve been working on Lace Life Society since 2017.
Q: Who would you say the typical Lace Life Society customer is?
A: If you wear LLC, you got to be a sneakerhead. LLC customers have a sense of streetwear style, and they know how to finesse simplistic pieces into a bunch of different outfits. Lace Life Society is for people who wants to feel good about themselves and express themselves through clothing.
Q: What was your first release like?
A: When I first started out, I made 3 different types of t-shirts that all sold out. Then I made hats, and those sold out too.
Q: Wow, it sounds like you had a lot of success when you first started out. I know that your first customers were originally from the Facebook group, but how do you find customers now?
A: Social media is everything! Without social media platforms, no one would know what my brand is about. I find people who I think would like my apparel and I direct message them. Other than that, word of mouth is huge. I hand out my business cards to people that I see whose style I like.
Q: I think it’s interesting that you reach out to fashionable people online AND in person, you’re a great salesperson for Lace Life Society. Do you feel that internet technology could play a bigger role in your business if you had the right tools?
A: Yes. Facebook and Instagram let you target your content super specifically. But that takes capital, so I can’t do it all at once.
Q: If you could start over from day 1, what would you do differently?
A: If I could start over from day 1, I wouldn’t have bitten off more than I can chew. I invested a lot of money up front thinking that the momentum would be consistent. I was sitting on product for longer than I expected. If I could go back, I would follow trend. For example, I would offer tanks tops in the summer and hats in the winter. I didn’t really have a plan when I started and having a mapped-out game plan would have been easier.
Q: Lace Life Society has been growing in popularity for years now, what is your end goal for the company?
A: I would love to be the brand ambassador for Lace Life Society. Fully dressed in LLS, setting up pop up shops in different sneaker boutiques.