Welcome to our blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format is a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Jake!
Today’s featured Minnesota business owner is Jake, founder of Conquer Ninja Gym, located in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Welcome, Jake! We’re excited that you’re here today!
Thanks for inviting me!
Q. Tell us a little bit about Conquer Ninja Gym and how it “got off the ground”?
A. You bet! I used to have an indoor beach volleyball business with an obstacle course. I closed that down after learning with large spaces you MUST generate substantial sales to stay afloat especially with the significant overhead. I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to stop being an entrepreneur. The fire was still alive. After researching different business options and locations I decided to try the American Ninja Warrior concept. As soon as I launched the business and word started to spread, it was insane. In the first month I opened I worked 13-15 hours a day for 30 days straight – it was crazy! I’m proud to say, as of today, we’ve helped put 15 people on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior!
Q. Looking back, do you think you were destined to be in this business?
A. For sure! I’ve been into fitness my whole life.
Q. What do you find most challenging about the business you’re in?
A. The whole industry is new so we’re really paving the way. It’s not a traditional business model so we’re constantly trying new things. We can’t just pay someone $10k to tell us what to do. Currently, we are looking to franchise.
Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your business and what did you learn from it?
A. We’re experiencing it right now. There is a ton of growth in the ninja concept. We’ve gone from a brand-new concept to a plateau. Now we have to start running the business like an established business. It’s a big marketing shift and there is a lot of competition. We need to evolve. The concept isn’t just fun-focused – it’s fitness-focused too.
Q. Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of juggling…how do you stay focused or get refocused?
A. I typically freak out for a few minutes first! Then I engage my staff and time management strategies to keep my priorities straight.
Q. If you only had $500 to spend on growing your business, where would you spend your money and why?
A. I’d spend it on sales and marketing for sure. Google is #1.
Q. What three words would you use to describe your organization?
A. The words that capture it best are fun, family, inspirational. Recently, a 14-year-old amputee and his brothers came to our gym. While his brothers played and tried out the obstacles, the 14-year old just sat on the sidelines and watched them. Suddenly, you could see the determination on his face as he eyed the warped wall. He spent 40 minutes trying to make it to the top and never gave up. That is WHY I love what I do! Believe it or not, we see examples of this every single day!
Q. If you could start any business today, what business would you open?
A. I’d open a real-life Fortnite facility – wouldn’t that be cool? My kids certainly think so. All kidding (or somewhat kidding) aside, I’d likely open more of a traditional gym.
Thanks so much for taking some time to talk with us today, Jake! We’re excited for you and the direction you’re taking your business. We wish you success as you continue to grow and compete in this exciting industry!
If you would like to learn more about Burnsville’s Conquer Ninja Gym, you can visit their website at www.conquermn.com/burnsville.
Want to be featured in our Made in Minnesota blog series or do you know of a really cool business that would make a great feature? Contact us today!