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Sisters Skating Towards Success: Freewheel Limited

Sisters Skating Towards Success: Freewheel Limited

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Sisters Skating Towards Success: Freewheel Limited

Freewheel Limited StartUp101 Story

Forging ahead by looking back

The cliche of an entrepreneur is someone constantly searching for the next big thing – the idea that no one else has spotted, the niche market that doesn’t exist yet. New technologies, new business models, building a company on the cutting edge.

In reality, an entrepreneur looks for opportunity in everything, including the past. There’s a strong market for nostalgia.

Sisters Melissa Blumenshine and Mandy Martin had exactly that realization, which is what led them to found Freewheel Limited. The Longmont, Colorado-based company organizes pop-up rollerskating events for birthday parties, city events, county fairs, and more.

“We were bored of the entertainment (options) in Longmont, and tired of our kids being on their phones and devices. We came up with the idea at the same time, but separately. We had a skating rink in town when we were kids, and we really wanted to bring that to the community. It was a big deal when we were growing up, a lot of kids skated,” Martin said. “We had a lot of fond memories of skating, that’s what initially brought it about.”

Their initial plan was to open a brick-and-mortar skating rink in town, but they quickly realized that would cost too much money upfront and had no guaranteed return on their investment.

A visit to a roller skating expo in Las Vegas helped them pivot to hosting events. The mobility of organizing had a lower cost barrier and helped the pair build name recognition in their community while working toward their ultimate goal of opening a skating rink, which is still part of their business plan.

They officially launched in 2023 and quickly found success, but both Blumenshine and Martin still work their day jobs.

“We weren’t anticipating the response that we’ve gotten. People in Longmont are in desperate need of something to do with their families, and the amount of people and support at our events has been amazing,” Blumenshine said. “It comes down to us not giving up. We email the newspapers, there’s a lot of legwork that goes into it. It’s just in us to not give up. We’ll have a building. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Freewheel Limited has become popular for its events, but Blumenshine and Martin didn’t have any business acumen or even any event organizing experience to guide them. They started with just an idea.

They turned to Entrepreneurship for All, a national nonprofit organization that works to help individuals start and build a business.

Blumenshine pitched the idea and was selected as one of a small cohort, then took 100 hours of business classes.

Through Entrepreneurship for All they were able to secure some early funding, built a network of support, and managed to get a $20,000 small business loan.

Entrepreneurship For All Freewheel Limited Award

“It was life-changing for us. We got some money from family and friends, one of our mentors (invested) in us… we were able to get tiles, 100 pairs of skates, and we launched on St. Patrick’s Day last year and over 700 skaters turned up. It was unprecedented,” Martin said. “We were running out of skates, we had to make signs asking people to be patient, that it was our first event.”

Martin said some of the skaters at that first event have continued to turn out and support the business.

Despite their initial success, the sisters didn’t take it as a sign that they should start moving at a sprint. They knew staying grounded was the best recipe for long-term success.

“We had the opportunity to do a pop-up in April. We could have done a back-to-back at the fairground, but that’s expensive; it would be $1,000 a day. We did the event and the turnout wasn’t so good, and we weren’t sure why,” Martin said. “We learned a lot – skating events are good in the summer, that we shouldn’t do a three-day event, we should do a one- or two-day pop-up, instead of spending a ton of money on rent but only making half of that back.”

Neither one had organized large-scale events, but both had experience hosting parties for their kids and neighborhoods – skills which they brought to bear in pulling Freewheel Limited events together.

As with all things, the best lessons are learned by doing.

“Hosting these large-scale events where we have to plan in advance with the fairgrounds. We were talking to them in October for our dates in 2024. It’s really just a learning process, knowing the ins and outs of how Boulder County works as opposed to other counties,” Martin said. “We’re not event planners, but we’ve become that over the last year. We’ve had to learn to set up and break down in a few hours, mostly to save money. We don’t want to pay for an extra day just to set up facilities.”

Being able to lean on each other, they said, has been a key to their success. There have been rough patches, and sisterly tensions that sometimes flair up, but they each said there’s no one else they’d rather be in business with.

Freewheel Limited Longmont Colorado

As for longevity, the two don’t have plans to expand their offerings beyond rollerskating. In fact, they had to pare down their original business ideas, which had included an arcade and other recreational activities.

So do they see the nostalgia running out of steam any time soon?

“We trying to bring recreation back to our community and we’ve been seeing there’s demand for it. People are coming from neighboring communities and doing dance-skating at our events. That’s what we’re trying to foster,” Martin said.

“I agree. A lot of what we originally thought we needed has fizzled out. All we need is a birthday party room, probably a bar for parents, a spectator area, a sound system, and a skating area. We’re getting away from the ‘entertainment facility’ because that’s not where our hearts are at,” Blumenshine said. “We have so much more interest in just roller skating – like roller hockey and roller derby. Once we bring that facility, I know we don’t have much to worry about.”

Your Turn

Freewheel Limited is an example of how a simple idea can find success – that entrepreneurs don’t need to be on the cutting edge to succeed. Sometimes, it can be as simple as meeting a community need, finding your space, and owning it. They began with pop-up events instead of a full-blown skating rink to manage costs and risks. If you’re dreaming of starting a business, what small step could you take today to move closer to your goal? Share your thoughts below!

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Sisters Skating Towards Success: Freewheel Limited

Sisters Skating Towards Success: Freewheel Limited

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