After 3 years of planning and preparing, Capital Access Team (CAT Team) client Float North can say, "we did it!"
Float North registered as an LLC in 2015, but it took 3 years to get funding, find a location, design the interior, complete the build out, and install float tanks. On July 21st, 2018 they opened their doors to the public for the first time. Owner, Dana Highfil, says that couldn't have done it without help from the Small Business Development Center's Capital Access Team. Here is their story.
What kind of business is Float North? Float North is a wellness center offering float therapy, massage therapy, classes, and workshops. It's both a float and a wellness clinic, but the centerpiece are the float tanks -- also known as sensory depravation tanks -- used for relaxation and rapid healing.
What inspired you to start your business? I’ve been a health care provider (massage therapist) for the past 10 years and have studied qigong meditation for the past 12 years. Both of these modalities have helped me be more present in my body and less distracted by my mind. In 2011, I floated for the first time and was immediately impressed by the similarity of the benefits of float therapy, meditation, and massage. Floating helps quiet the mind while simultaneously relaxing the body. I knew immediately that I wanted to combine massage and float therapy to help others in the same way I have benefited.
Before coming to the SBDC what challenges were you facing in your business? Before coming to the SBDC, I struggled with the financial planning involved in getting funding to open a small business. A float center requires extensive build out including expensive equipment. Float rooms need to be built using special waterproof, salt-proof, and sound insulated materials.
Building a quiet place in the middle of a city is expensive. The SBDC CAT Team helped me gather the information I needed to talk to banks and get the funding needed for the project.
What types of services did you receive from the SBDC? I received mentoring, support, encouragement, and guidance from the SBDC. The SBDC was a place I could ask questions that I felt too embarrassed to ask the bank. Bruce Melzer came with me to a couple of bank meetings and provided a great sounding board for creating financial projections and other documents.
How did the CAT Team help you overcome your challenges? Finding a bank loan was a frustrating process. It took 6 tries over the course of about 3 years. The templates provided by the SBDC were invaluable as I navigated the conundrum of getting a bank loan. The bank wanted me to have a lease before they would give me a loan and the landlord wanted me to have a loan before letting me sign the lease. Ultimately, it was the financial templates provided by the SBDC that allowed me to communicate information effectively with both the bank and landlord that got me the loan and the lease.
What have you done differently in your business since working with the SBDC? Since working with the SBDC, I have kept better track of my finances and have a much better understanding of the process of opening a small business.
How is your business doing now? I am excited to be opening our doors this month! We had an open house on Saturday, July 21st and it was a huge success.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC? There are many wonderful people and resources available to help you during the challenging journey of opening a small business. Use the resources!
You can visit Float North online at http://floatnorthpdx.com/ or in person at 1617 NE 17th Avenue in Portland.