2022 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: BOOMROOM, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)


University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Industry: Fitness

Founding Student Name(s): Anna Shuford (BA ’20, MBA ’22)

Brief Description of Solution: BOOMROOM is an integrated platform that provides a business management toolset and personalized business coaching for today’s health and wellness entrepreneurs. Our toolset includes CMS, CRM, scheduling, payment, insights and marketing software, enabling fit pros to streamline all business operations within one platform.

Funding Dollars: 380k

What led you to launch this venture? The idea first sparked while taking a Zoom workout lifting wine bottles as weights in my living room with 50+ people on the meeting. I saw trainers struggling to organize the process and the experience for the client (which I was) wasn’t anything special. This is especially true because I was already taking MBA classes via Zoom. I didn’t want to be on Zoom for my workouts, too! But overall this is what lead me to be confident in pursuing this venture.

The global pandemic shut down gyms/studios, forcing fitness professions to seek out new revenue streams. Having gone off on their own during this time, fit pros have realized the possibilities that come with building their own brands and removing themselves from large corporate companies. However, the lack of user-friendly backend business management technology and access to general business coaching makes it hard to start and scale a successful business for these individuals and small business owners.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Getting into Techstars Physical Health Accelerator in Fort Worth, Texas. I’m here now!

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? It was the connections I made with professors and classmates, and the courses I took. My professor and mentor, Ted Zoller, pushed me to apply to Techstars and because of that we are now in this incredible position to learn and grow. I also enrolled in Startup UNC early on, which allowed me to get credit for the work I was doing on the startup.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you?  Not a single person. I used to listen to the podcast “How I Built This” while working at my office job at Madison Square Garden the summer before my senior year at UNC (summer 2019). I did a lot of Photoshop, so I liked having something to listen to while I was editing decks and photos. By the end of that summer, I had listened to almost every one of those episodes. I was bored at my job, and I loved how all the entrepreneurs I was listening to were able to do a little bit of everything. I knew that was my style and something I wanted to do. I like to have my hands in a lot of different things and I am obsessed with learning. However, I just didn’t know how to start working in this industry, and most importantly, I didn’t have a problem I was passionate about solving.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Startup UNC and Entrepreneurial Finance. Startup UNC gave me the chance to really build out and test the concept, and allowed me to build a team that is still with me today. I’m terrible with numbers, so I forced myself to take entrepreneurial finance to prepare myself for fundraising. I knew I would be terrible at it (and I was) but I learned a ton that has helped me so much to this day.

Biggest lesson: If something scares the hell out of you, do it.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?

Ted Zoller. He was a teacher and mentor to me throughout my two years of the MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler. His genuine engagement with me and belief in my abilities to be a successful founder has given me the confidence to pursue opportunities (like Techstars) that I would not otherwise feel “good enough” for. His belief in me, along with Sarah Plasky (another mentor at UNC), really gave me the guts to go after these intimidating opportunities.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? To redefine the fitness industry by equipping individuals or small teams of fit-pros with the technology toolset and business education they need to build and scale successful businesses of their own.


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