Inspired by working at a small startup after graduation, Northeastern alumna Jessica Bashelor decided to try her own hand at entrepreneurship. This summer, she made her dream a reality, and opened South Boston’s first indoor cycling studio, The Handle Bar. Jessica shared with us some thoughts about how she got to this point and how Northeastern made an impact on her entrepreneurial path.
What made you start your business, and how did you get to where you are now?
I decided to start my own business after working at a small startup, an activewear company. The experience opened my eyes to the boutique fitness industry that continues to grow in Boston and across the country. I had always loved spinning but when I tried it in a studio setting for the first time, I was floored. Once I decided to try and open a cycling studio, the learning curve began. I studied biology, so building a business plan and learning how to raise capital required some educating. I’m a firm believer that the best way to learn is to do, so I went for it. I also received assistance from IDEA in building my business plan and from there I began connecting with potential investors. We ultimately launched The Handle Bar and we’re up and running with 30 classes a week, helping people lose weight, feel great, and have fun.
What were the biggest lessons you learned while trying to build your business?
First, everything is going to take significantly more time and money than you anticipate. Second, stay positive—it radiates to everyone you interact with and is the only way you’ll enjoy being an entrepreneur. If your positivity slips, everything else will fall apart. And third, it’s okay to be the least experienced or least knowledgeable person in a meeting. As an entrepreneur, you have to depend on the expertise of others, and that’s okay.
How has Northeastern helped you along the way?
IDEA and its student and professional advisers have been paramount in keeping me moving forward over the past two years. With each challenge I’ve encountered, I had a support system to reach out to for guidance. IDEA connected me with so many wonderful people who have helped in the process both personally and professionally. It introduced me to my legal counsel during the investment negotiations, as well as my student coaches and my professional advisers Bob Lentz and Dan Gregory, who’ve helped answer a myriad questions and walked me through different challenging chapters of the business’ conception. At NEXPO last year, I even met the person who later became the The Handle Bar’s publicist, whom I talk to on a daily basis.