FitPartyMe a CNG Fit, LLC brand, is one of many innovative startups participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator. The program is designed for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development.
CNG Fit Founder and CEO Brandi Kilbourne told Innovation Destination Hartford about the importance of making connections when launching a startup.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: When and why did you start your company?
BRANDI KILBOURNE: The concept of FitPartyMe was born back in 2013. Allow me to set the stage: I was a professional commercial hip-hop dancer in New York City and twerk dance classes were all the rage. A childhood friend of mine from New Orleans approached me with the idea to start teaching twerk fitness classes. Twerking is a dance staple in the South (where I grew up), making me somewhat of an expert! I loved the idea of teaching a dance style I’d grown up, on but really wanted to take it a step further. We eventually parted ways and I began working on what is now FitPartyMe.
IDH: How did you develop the business concept?
BRANDI: While developing this program, in trials, I began to recognize certain patterns of attrition in those who had fitness goals but, for whatever reason, couldn’t stick with a program. I was intrigued by how I could best design a program that seamlessly blended dance and fitness in a way that was welcoming and fun yet yielded real results.
I went on to obtain a certification in personal training from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and developed FitPartyMe, a fun, approachable, affordable, convenient, and effective way to engage in fitness through dance.
FitPartyMe started off with pop-up classes in New York and Connecticut a year and a half ago.
It developed into FitPartyMe a CNG Fit, LLC brand, which is a membership-based community that gives members affordable access to live dance/dance fitness classes at our FitPartyMe gyms, online dance fitness programs, and nationwide pop-up dance fitness parties (which often include musical talent, health/wellness seminars, and exhibitors).
As of January 2018, we have a facility in Wethersfield, CT, where clients can come to our classes on a weekly basis.
IDH: Why did you become involved in reSET Accelerator program?
BRANDI: As a newbie entrepreneur with a tiny staff, I needed all the help I could possibly get. I needed to be in an environment where everyone is making their startup machines work. I needed to be connected with those who know more than I do about how to keep a startup machine running. The reSET Accelerator program was the answer.
IDH: In what ways is your company making a social impact?
BRANDI: We donate 10% of our profits to a charity or non-profit every fiscal year. Additionally, we offer certain donation-based programs/classes, like our “Dance Lab,” where 100% of the class fees are accepted as donation and go directly to a local charity of choice (chosen by the class participants).
As we expand, we plan to partner with civilian re-entry programs on a nationwide level for military veterans and recently incarcerated individuals that will train and employ them in certain CNG Fit LLC departments.
IDH: What has been your biggest challenge as a startup?
BRANDI: Our biggest challenge has been getting our market customer through the doors and exposed to our product.
IDH: What resources do you need most to move your company forward?
BRANDI: The most important resource for us to move forward right now is funding and working capital. FitPartyMe is currently operating a beta product version. To get the program to the next level, we’ll need more working capital/investments.
IDH: Any advice for other startups?
BRANDI: If something isn’t working, pivot.
Find out more about startups participating in the 2018 reSET Impact Accelerator:
- Bare Life – Food and Beverage Startup For Healthy Eating
- FieldOwler — Startup Provides Risk Management Software for Businesses
- florapothecarie — Startup Launches Natural Beauty Line
- Project Ray – Startup Makes Smartphones Accessible for the Visually Impaired
- SKYWIREme – Startup Provides Messaging Solutions for Nonprofits and Growing Businesses
- Two Happy Homes – Connecticut Company Provides Co-Parenting Tools