New Program Launch - How To Launch Your Business with Tamieka Garcia (IBOX Fitness)

Last Tuesday marked the soft launch of our new online course, Entrepreneurial Learning in Action Course at Home. To celebrate, we invited the Startup Business community to our “How To Launch Your Business” event, a candid conversation about the next steps that aspiring entrepreneurs need to take after building onto their ideas.

The event kicked off with an introduction from our very own Education and Program Director, Leigh Morgan, before giving a warm welcome to Tamieka Garcia, founder of IBOX Fitness and the youngest boxing promoter in the country. Tamieka spoke about how her fight against Type I diabetes inspired her to start her own boxing gym, how she built a loyal customer base from a community that she continues to nurture today, and how IBOX Fitness began as a “bootstrapped” startup, using the Warilla Surf Club outdoor facility as their initial location.

The Entrepreneurial Learning in Action program has been delivered to more than 570 students across Australia over the past few years. We are proud to announce that the program is now available to students not just in the classroom, but also at home, everywhere in Australia and the world. NSW residents can now use their Creative Kids voucher to get $100 off for the program.

0:01 – 0:25

My name is Tamieka Garcia. Um, I grew up in Shellharbour. I’m only 21 years old. I opened up a gym in 2015, we started at the local surf club, just doing outdoor classes, and then we slowly needed a place. So we actually, at the moment, we’re at 2/52 Sunset Avenue and we’re doing really well.

• 0:26 – 0:40

That’s amazing. So you’re just 21 years old! We’d like to hear a little bit of background, and I know that your health, was a big inspiration for you getting into exercise and fitness. So I wonder if you could explain that.

• 0:41 – 1:12

We opened up a boxing gym cause we love boxing. So my family and myself, we love boxing. So I’ve had six fights myself. So as well as adding a business, I’m the youngest boxing promoter in Australia. That means is that I can organise Fight Nights, match people so that they can fight each other and run the whole event. I had battled a lot adversity, I’m a type one diabetic and in 2012, I was also legally blind.

• 1:13 – 1:33

So I had to deal with not only loss of my vision, but having to deal with the condition that you’re going to have for your rest of your life. But it’s just a small speed bump in the road. You see, you just get used to it and at least it’s manageable condition. It feels good to help other people understand that and achieve their goals regardless if it’s got to do with a medical condition or just mental health as well.

• 1:34 – 2:09

It’s really inspiring. That’s quite an adversity for some of us to think about and for you to just say, Oh, that’s just a little speed bump. That’s inspiring and especially to see what you’ve done, while also dealing with that condition of diabetes. That’s a real inspiration. So I think, what our students are looking at as well is how to start that business. One of the questions I’d like to ask is, who inspired you or did anyone help you when you were starting out that business?

• 2:09 – 2:50

When starting up a business, I think most importantly, you need your support, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you do want to just do your own thing and focus on your own goals, don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s just as little as, I need help lifting or I need a contact, I need some people to come help me within the gym. I feel as if support and then more passion and belief in yourself to actually believe that you can do your own thing and get there and be successful.

• 2:52 – 2:59

Were your parents part of that support. Or did you have, membership of the local chamber of commerce?

• 3:00 – 3:31

So my main support would be my family. Before we started up, IBOX Fitness, we were doing work at another local gym. So from there we built up a clientele base, and then they fell through at the gym and we’re working at, so from there, we decided that we’ll open up our own and people would decide to follow us. So not only is IBOX Fitness, is the people wanting to train getting, getting the physical exercising, but they’re there for us as well. They’re there for the trainers so that no one’s a number. So we know different things about the people as well.

• 3:39 – 4:13

Absolutely. That’s so important. With a lot of business, the customer feels like you really get to know them. You valued them. I’m sure that’s a big part of your business, especially with a fitness training.

As you found that opportunity where the other business closed and you thought, right, we’re going to take a leap and we’re going to start our own gym, how did you go about finding a location, designing your own logos, did you have help with all of that?

• 4:13 – 4:49

The funny story is that when we were deciding what to do next or how to open up a gym, it was actually four personal trainers. We went to McDonald’s, we got one of their placemat and we read out what we would do, what classes we have, what times, what days would suit everyone else. From there, on a McDonald’s play mat we started it. Luckily we had the help of our local surf clubs and were able to use the outdoor facility. And then we just had to purchase our own here from local suppliers, like Morgan sports, as well as just secondhand hand gear that we could use and borrow as well.

• 5:01 – 5:32

I think a lot of businesses start that way. I think they call it bootstrapping, just kind of going along with what you’ve got in the moment and then building my advice from there. A lot of our young business leaders and entrepreneurs, when they think about launching a business, they think about using social media to get out there and reach their customers. And it sounds like you’ve got quite a community there too. So how do you use social media with IBOX fitness.

• 9:57 – 10:30

Yeah it’s really important for us! When we first started, it was all about Facebook. So we had a Facebook group, and then we still have that Facebook group to this day. What we do is we post up what classes we have each day, what events we’ve got coming up and we also do every Wednesday, we call it our Hump-Day-Wednesday is a post-sale motivational quote or whatever atmosphere we’re feeling during the week. Then we’re trying to do some motivation for that.

• 10:38 – 11:16

Great. Yeah, I think it is so important, but actually it’s something that a lot of, young students, especially really excel at using social media really well. Seeing, as some of our viewers today are still in grade 10 in high school, and they might be thinking about what subjects to choose going forward and they might be thinking, why should I choose business? Do you have any advice for students about something that they could do to help them be an entrepreneur in the future or maybe something that you learned along the way?

• 11:16 – 11:58

Um, when it came to school, uh, I wasn’t the brightest, but I excelled in sports. Sport was my forte. So dealing with adversity, getting over that and being able to play sports was what I really wanted to do. Not only that, in Year 10, I was already running the business. I remember doing my HSC exams and because of my type one diabetes, I have to be isolated just in case I had a medical emergency and I went to finish my exam and then said “Aw, got to go back to the business” and my reviewer or person watching was like, “what do you mean you’ve got a business?”

• 11:58 – 12:28

So it was very interesting. Thinking about school and subjects, I’d definitely recommend joining something that you love and you will be passionate about. I had PDHPE, Biology, English, Maths, Religion, but I also did Hospitality. So I got my chefs qualification as well. One thing I do believe is try and get as many certificates or as much experience as you can in any opportunities.

• 12:36 – 13:15

Wow. That’s really good advice. And it’s a good way to find your passion by trying lots of different things. And I think your advice rings true with a lot of entrepreneurs that I’ve heard of. Say you’re Richard Bransons and these types of people, they didn’t always Excel at school, but had a passion for something. So they just followed that passion and that’s what ended up leading them to success. Is there anything that you’re planning with iBox fitness, is there anything that you’re planning coming up in the future?

• 13:16 – 13:47

We’re hopefully gonna run a few more fight nights this year. So with COVID last year, we weren’t able to do any events and we were actually unable to run a business for 12 weeks. So we shut around this time last year and we came back June 13th due to the government restrictions. No money was coming in for a little while, so that was tough, but we still had to pay for all the overheads. But luckily we made it through and we’re thriving. We’re even busier than before, which is good.

• 13:47 – 14:20

Hopefully this year we’ll have a lot more events than last year. Our Fight Nights tend to have participants raise money for different charities. So the last one was in 2019. That was my first event. We had 24 fight in the night and there was 720 people there, it was sold out. Ee hope to remake that if not make it bigger this year, so we’ll see how it go.

• 14:20 – 14:37

As well as hopefully doing more mental health, things like in October, we do our, community barbecue, which is we have a barbecue every week. Anybody who’s struggling or wants to come hang out with some people, if they feel isolated, they are more than welcome to come as well.

• 14:38 – 14:58

Wow. That’s amazing how you’re giving it back to the community as well. And I guess that’s why people want to be part of that iBox fitness community because they know that, um, you know, the walk, the walk, you don’t just talk the talk and you actually give it back. All right. So they sound like some pretty exciting events.