The Williams family, including husband and wife Lawrence and Kenitra Williams, is opening their family owned and operated indoor trampoline park called Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park in Snellville, Georgia, a city east of Atlanta. Trampoline parks have been the rage on the West Coast for quite some time because they offer fun activities for the whole family.
Meet the new owners, the Williams family.
Why was it important to start this business?
Kenitra: We wanted to setup a legacy not only for our family but to be an inspiration to others who seek to do something together — those who may want to build something. The desire is to build this brand so that others can start their own Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park. Another thing is you rarely see families, especially with the “in-law” element in the equation. Doing this together and sharing the story helps encourage us to be better and in turn we hope it does the same for others.
Lawrence: One of the best things we can do as a family is ensure that we create the opportunity to build and leave a legacy for our children and beyond. It all starts with a seed, and Gravity is that seed for our family. The other huge factor for us starting this business was to be able to create opportunities for our family to impact our surrounding communities in a matter that inspired and provoked change to those we come in contact with. We knew that whatever business we did decided to do that beyond whatever success was gained we had to sow back into the lives of others.
Lauren: It was important for several reasons including continuing the legacy started by our parents. We have a firm belief that we are to leave businesses and wealth for our children and their children to inherit. It was also important for personal growth and stepping outside of our comfort zone. This line of business has been a huge learning curve and actually hope to pass on the information we have learned to those that are also interested in establishing their own business. We don’t go through experiences and challenges just for ourselves. They are there for someone else to learn from.
What were the steps and commitment made to launch this business?
Kenitra: Gaining knowledge of the industry, how to build a business from the ground-up that will one day be something that can be franchised. There is a scripture that says that having a desire without knowledge is not good. The first step is to gain as much knowledge as you can. This came through reading, talking to others, visiting parks, aligning with the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP). Working with associations can be a wealth of knowledge and sharing within the industry. Building a great team is critical. A team of contractors, architects, vendors, suppliers, and employees are critical to the success of starting a new business.
Lawrence: The very first thing we had to do was make a commitment to each other that this would be something we would do together, and that no matter what came our way we would ensure we stay together. The next thing was there had to be a plan. We spent over a year planning and researching with our attorney. The one thing that remained constant is that there was never any doubt about what we were doing. We were committed to seeing this vision come to pass.
We had a great support system of friends and family who were committed to help us along the way. We ended up with an amazing architect, Tony Pope with Atelier Seven, LLC. The connection with Tony led to Fun Spot, the company that designed our trampoline attraction layout. Once we were ready for the buildout, we were blessed with Cedric Walker with Construction Works as our general contractor who has led the way to get us to opening our doors. The icing on the cake has been our amazing PR/marketing firm, The B Firm. They have continued to create opportunities that connect us to our surrounding communities.
Lauren: Developing a business plan and having an idea of what we want to grow into were important so that we have something to work towards. Research, of course, was an integral part of launching this business. We had to know if there was a regulating body for this industry, who makes trampolines. How do we want to differentiate ourselves? And so on.
How did you select your team?
Kenitra: Selecting our core team was easy, as that was a family decision. It’s me, my husband Lawrence, mother-in-law Gwendolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren. When deciding which contractors, architect, vendors, suppliers, and employees, we used tribal knowledge based on information from previous interactions; and we interviewed them. It was important to us to select partners that are in America so that we could help to not only build jobs in our local community but that assist with job growth throughout America as best as we could. We also looked at the goal and purpose for the relationship that we would be entering in with the vendor/supplier and ensure that it aligned fully to meet our needs and that it was something we could do with the budget allocated for the given area/need.
Lawrence: It was important that everyone that became a part of Gravity whether it was an employee or independent contractor that they had a genuine heart to serve. One of the things that we didn’t want to teach or coach is the heart to serve. It is important that our brand be first recognized as a brand for people. It is important even as we move forward that anyone associated with our brand have this as a part of their DNA.
Lauren: There was really no selection process. We always knew it was going to be with family, with each other.
Who’s idea was it for the trampoline park?
Kenitra: We knew we wanted to do a family business and we knew that we wanted it to be a family centered business. Something where we could meet the needs of the family. We considered some other options and during one conversation it came up that we should look into a trampoline park rather than the other options that were on the table. We met with a trampoline park manufacture and after talking to him, reviewing the business we decided this would be the way we would go.
Lawrence: We always knew that we wanted to do a business that was geared towards family entertainment, and especially kids. We originally wanted to do a mix of an indoor inflatable and trampoline park. We had a hesitation about doing the inflatables after doing some research on our own. After our initial meeting with Fun Spot that hesitation was solidified, and the decision to go completely with trampoline attractions was nailed down.
Lauren: I would have to give the credit to Lawrence. We initially had another idea for family entertainment where we were going to have one trampoline attraction but then it became why not just make the whole place trampolines.
Did you hire a research firm or did you do the research yourselves?
Kenitra: We did the research ourselves. There is so much information available on the internet, talking to others, visiting parks (being a customer), the association, suppliers that we felt we had enough to get started – we were off to the races.
Lawrence: One of the great parts about this journey is that as a family we did our research on our own. Since we were not doing a franchise it was important to us that we know this business inside and out for ourselves. We each decided on an area we would focus on and became experts in those areas.
Lauren: We did the research ourselves. I have also give Lawrence a lot credit for the research as well. He took on a lot of the responsibility for us and getting us to each next step. We also had help from our attorney in directing our thoughts and how to formulate a business and business plan.
Who are your mentors?
Kenitra: My greatest life mentor is my mom, Lydia Gaines. She is the epitome of love, grace, and knowledge. She’s the hardest working person I know. She inspires me daily to be great. I’m also inspired daily by those around me in some way. I love watching others do great and will surround myself to share and learn from those around me.
Lawrence: Our main mentor throughout this entire process has been one of our attorneys, Greg Coleman. He has walked through this process from the beginning to the end.
Lauren: My parents have been my mentors. They have shared a lot of their experiences in starting and managing a business and money. We also have family friends who have been great sounding boards and also sharing their personal experiences and what they have learned.
What do you hope the community will gain from this venture/investment?
Kenitra: It is our desire that Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park will provide family focused entertainment which will include exceptional service for the community, while creating a fun and safe experience for all ages. One of the things we are most proud of are the community connections we are seeking to grow. We have Spirit Night options that will allow us to give back to the non-profit organizations in the community. We will allow organizations to host parties, lock-ins, team gatherings and so much more. We will be a pillar in the community for family fun and look forward to sharing with those we are called to serve.
Lawrence: Gravity was created by a family for families. It is important to us that our surrounding communities understand that Gravity isn’t just a place for the kids, but it’s an experience for the entire family. We want our impact to felt beyond our doors. It is just as important for us to create an unforgettable experience outside our doors as it will be for us to do inside of our doors. We need for our surrounding communities to know that Gravity is here to create opportunities inside and outside our doors. We are always up for more.