Tee4Life Business Plan (Based on Mission Main Street Grant Submission June 5, 2015)

Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.

My business is teaching individuals to learn how to partner dance. Through dance, they can learn about themselves, develop confidence and connect with a larger community that also enjoys learning, dancing, music and culture. Dancing is physical activity that allows creative expression through movement and easily connects you to other people and promotes giving back within a community. 

Seattle has a broad and extensive landscape for just about any social dance you want to learn so it is extremely competitive to teach dance. In order to distinguish myself, I focused on teaching an Angolan dance called Kizomba. Kizomba is a new dance (1990's) that in 2010 started to get exposure in the US. The structure of this dance is simpler compared to other dances and enables students to make connections to movement and music sooner. My objective is to develop dancers that enjoy learning, enjoy the closeness of the dance and a take part in a community focused on cooperation. 

By teaching and hosting events, I have grown a small group of 20 to over 100 active dancers. The community now sustains socials once a week compared to once a month and the Kizomba Seattle facebook group has 1,644 members.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.

The entrepreneurs and fellow students I met at a workshop about Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship inspired me. When I heard their stories, felt their passion and tenacity, I was captivated. It served as the spark that brought me here. Dance transformed me so I want to use my passion for dance and learning to develop a business where I can coach others to be their best while sharing what I love. 

My greatest achievement is the Kizomba Seattle Community. I started a practice group of eight people and built a fun, welcoming and thriving community of over a hundred dancers. With the support of a local businesses like the Century Ballroom, I provide weekly classes, teach privates and host socials and practices. Producing weekend workshops exposed the dance to people in neighboring cities (Vancouver BC and Portland) which now have Kizomba communities of their own. One event brought together 72 dancers. 20% from Vancouver, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, DC, San Diego and LA. They are all active in their respective Kizomba communities as teachers, event producers and DJs.

My biggest challenge is to keep developing programs that continue to satisfy the current market and reach a broader audience while becoming profitable.

How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.

My business works with local dance studios to expand their offerings to include Kizomba. I also rent from or profit share with studios and other venues to host dances. For example, I've worked with restaurants in the neighboring area and sponsored events like this one: https://www.facebook.com/events/692004910911977 where we can dance and support the establishment by purchasing drinks and food. 

DJs have emerged from the community and are hired by our weekly events. They have been hired to play at festivals in and outside Seattle. I have assisted with and taught at two dance festivals in Seattle and have helped the producers put together a Kizomba Line-Up that is attractive to other Kizomba dancers. The Seattle Bachata Kizomba Festival has an attendance of about 250 people with about a third coming for Kizomba. The Seattle Salsa Festival has an attendance of over 500 people with about 20 percent of those coming for Kizomba. 

Within the community many members have stepped up to volunteer their time to host and sponsor weekly events (like this one: https://www.facebook.com/events/825011550907750/) for current and new community members. Here are testimonials from students and other members of the community about the the impact of my work http://tee4life.blogspot.com/p/testimonials-for-frances-tee-and.html.

What would a $100,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.

$25,000 will be used to consult with or hire someone to develop a business plan to include marketing and market research to complement my organizational and creative strengths. The plan will focus on profitability while expanding to new markets. These target markets include other dance communities, people seeking personal development and couples needing intimacy in their relationships.

$30,000 will be used to continue providing high quality programs for the current community and growth. These funds will pay for instructor travel, rental space and marketing material for 4-5 weekend events. A portion will be allocated to instructor professional development to maintain expertise and stay current with the dance. A portion will be used to kick-off a Teacher Conference for Kizomba Instructors in the US: an event that will foster community among teachers, create a cooperative environment to develop better teaching practices.

$45,000 will be used to investigate a space that will enable me to provide a creative learning environment for adults. A creative marketplace where people can learn something new or get better at something they love and where teachers can teach and develop new classes. A place for people to just geek out on what they love to do.

What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?

For the next 2 years my goal is to enhance the program of classes and events I offer and produce new events that focus on the development of experienced dancers and the cooperative aspect of community. This grant will fund those efforts and allow me to continue to use more local resources (studio and venues). In addition, I can develop and start executing on a plan to reach new markets.

To establish growth, within the next 3-5 years I need to expand beyond Kizomba dance instruction to service new markets. I can expand to other dance communities like Bachata and Salsa and non-dance markets: people looking to invest in their personal development to improve self-confidence and social interaction and couples who are seeking to add more intimacy in their lives. This grant will allow me to do the market research necessary to validate my services and build the right marketing plan to reach these new markets.

Ultimately, I want to create a Learning Studio for people to geek out on learning. A place to grow, express, and create not just through dance but through other activities that engage you in physical as well as social activity like crafting and cooking.

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