Driving to the grocery store one day in Richmond, Virginia, high school senior Dylan Patel spotted droves of people flocking toward an orange tent. Curious what the commotion was about, Patel pulled over and staked out in the parking lot, where he watched employees dressed in neon orange outfits distributing flyers and talking to prospective customers.
Patel went home that night and Googled the company's name: Orangetheory Fitness. What he found was an innovative, high-intensity workout program — "a fitness class that aims to be for interval training what SoulCycle is for Spin classes," according to GQ. But he found something else, too — something he'd been contemplating for quite some time: an opportunity to launch his entrepreneurial career.
In January 2016, while a freshman at the University of Virginia, he signed a contract with Orangetheory Fitness to open his own franchise, thanks to a generous loan from his parents and some bank loans, roughly equaling a half million dollar. The doors opened the following October, in Newport News, Virginia. But he didn't stop there.
In addition to juggling a full course load at one of the best public universities in the country, the 21-year-old business and finance major now owns three Orangetheory locations throughout Virginia and invested an additional $500,000 into a second franchise, called Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa.
The franchises are each in different stages of their life cycle, with the second Orangetheory opening in July and the third expected to launch this fall. The original Orangetheory, meanwhile, is pulling in slightly less than $1 million annually, revenue that Patel has used to finance his other ventures. Patel purchased his first Hand & Stone in May, and although the franchise just opened, the spa has recruited 100 clients in just two weeks.