• Entrepreneur Feature: Road to Success

    Entrepreneur Feature

    Company: The Madison Improvement Club (The MIC)
    Who: Andrew Varela
    Title: Fearless Leader. Co-owner/Manager
    Age: 27
    “…the longer you wait, the faster someone is developing a like idea…”

    Where did you get the idea for your business?

    To start, my partner, Mary Swanson, and I have had a love for spin [indoor cycle] for eight years now. Yoga, which was Mary’s go-to—she’s a guru—had also crept into my life as an equally loved exercise. And, I have always dreamed of opening my own restaurants. So we figured, let’s put them all together. Nothing better than rocking out your heart to loud music on a bike, stretching it out with friends in yoga, then replenishing in a healthy but tasty café. But, really, it began with a 1917 building in which we both walked in and saw what had to be done.

    What motivates you to make your business a success?

    What keeps me up late at night? The drive to make a positive impact in the community I love so much—Arcadia. Making the most kick-butt place for my future customers. And providing opportunity for my team who are just as big of a part of this project as I am—Jaqlyn, Harmony, Lorrie, Alex, and Joe.

    What’s your business philosophy?

    “Doing good is good for business”–Richard Branson. I believe that when you have a venture that is value based, only good things can come from it. Oh, and dream big!

    What sets your business apart from your direct competitors?

    First off, I want to set straight that we do not believe in competitors. I believe that there is enough business for all. Not to mention I have the utmost respect for all entrepreneurs. But we certainly have some differences, some of which include a business that completely runs off a balance of fun and efficiency. We know you may not always be in the best mood walking in, but you best bet we will give you a great chance to let loose and smile while you are at The Madison Improvement Club. This paired with the most efficient and quick service makes us one of a kind.

    Why did you decide to start your business in Arizona?

    I love Arcadia, and this is my home. I care so much about taking experiences and ideas and bringing them to life. I can’t wait to share them with you.

    Describe your biggest failure. What did you learn from it?

    My biggest opportunities were during the past few years in which I created multiple small-business plans that were not taken seriously and clearly had the wrong timing. I believe it has given me two things: humility and the ability to work harder. I’ve now implemented constructive feedback into our culture at the MIC. We believe that we can always improve with the ability to accept feedback, good or bad. We lose our ego and take suggestions openly.

    Has the economy affected how you do business? If so, how?

    It has surely made us conscious of people’s hardships. We have chosen to be extremely fair with our prices and will continue to give back to our community and stay involved with nonprofits in any way we can.

    What’s been the most challenging aspect of your business?

    Designing, building, and growing a business in only a year and a half. Staying on task with the architects, contractors, and the city of Phoenix is a job in itself. The building has its own life, the business has another. It has most definitely been a hectic but “OM-azing” time.

    How has social media changed your industry and the way you conduct business? It has given us the ability to show our culture before opening our doors. Our completely wacky personality has been quite the hit on Facebook and has given us the opportunity to have people let loose with us before we open.

    >What would you consider the three keys to your business success?
    To hold true to our morals and vision, stay current with trends, and be different.

    What advice would you offer to people starting a new business?

    I wouldn’t. I don’t want competitors, remember? Just kidding. I would let them know that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I believe that it helps to know that it is a long journey with many bumps in the road. Enjoy every bit of it. There is a reason they say it requires sweat, blood, and tears. I also would encourage people to take more risks. If it feels right, trust your instinct. Based off of previous experiences, the longer you wait, the faster someone is developing a like idea— maybe even in the building you want to lease, too. Once again, if it feels right, it probably is.

    What’s your favorite Arizona restaurant?

    Hmmmm, a tie between The Mission and Postino.

    Where do you go locally to relax?

    I ride my beach cruiser to all the local spots—Postino, North, Chelsea’s Kitchen, and Little Woody.

    What’s your secret talent?

    When I type things, I have very good handwriting.
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