By Christopher Stephens The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Before Charity Rees and Lindsay Montgomery won a pitch contest they said many people didn't take their Aerial Fitness company seriously or were reticent to invest. But the "pitch night" win has been a major boost for business.
A door opener.
That's what co-founders of "Aerial Fit2Fly" Charity Rees and Lindsay Montgomery consider their win at Vesuvius Coworking Pitch Night in January.
And just four quick months after their plan to launch the county's aerial silk and bungee fitness gym beat out five other entrepreneurs, the two are putting the finishing touches on their first location at 901 Meridian St. in Anderson.
"We are really recognizing that after winning at Vesuvius, the community is really rallying around us," Rees said.
Before the win, as they were searching for locations or approaching banks and developers for financing or help, Rees said many people didn't take them seriously or were reticent to invest because the fitness industry can be turbulent.
But after the win, all that changed.
"All of a sudden they looked at us as entrepreneurs, instead of two crazy girls," she said.
For Montgomery, the pitch night also acted as an introduction to city resources like the Redevelopment Commission.
"There are so many resources in this community for entrepreneurs, but we just didn't know about them," she said.
"After the event, they were coming up to us."
Vesuvius founder Shane Bivens said though winning the pitch night offered Aerial Fit2Fly a little over $7,000 in startup funding, the real win was giving them an accolade to hang their hat on.
"They would have been successful without this -- their business plan is solid and they know what they're doing," he said. "But what pitch night offered was exposure, to the mayor, to Bankable ... and a level of validity. Really, for them to have that catapult."
Fresh off the win, Aerial Fit2Fly founders have big plans for their renovated building with 14-foot ceilings when they open up this summer.
As the only two licensed instructors in Indiana, Rees and Montgomery are sure their bungee workout, a relatively new type of high-intensity, low-impact workout system brought to the U.S. from Thailand, will bring gymnasts from across central Indiana.
Along with the bungee workouts, they also plan to offer classes in aerial yoga, kangaroo jump, silk and pole workouts.
They also hope to partner with local organizations to offer community events or large groups to try out the workout.
"We really want to be as invested in our community as so many people have been invested in us," Rees said.
Bivens is also looking ahead as he gears up for the second Vesuvius Coworking Pitch Night set for May 31.
Six entrepreneurs from Madison, Henry and Delaware counties will compete for a cash prize and, more importantly, the type of community investment Rees and Montgomery found.
Vesuvius Pitch Night #2 When: 6 p.m. May 31 Where: Mainstage Theatre, 124 W. Ninth St., Anderson Cost: $10