Twenty-eight students in the Entrepreneurship Program at St. Edward’s are stepping out of the classroom and discovering what is going on in the real world of finance and commerce. An ideal partner for this foray into practicum emerged when two enterprising young women opened a boutique indoor cycling studio a half dozen miles up the road.
The course at St. Ed’s is taught by Greg Zugrave and Scott Mohr. Aurelija Merrill and Christie Mackin co-founded Vero Spin and opened the doors for business in early February at 6180 A1A in the Village Shops.
The students have attended a couple of spin classes and the exchange of ideas about this start-up business has been robust for everyone involved, often in some creative ways.
“This year the class was learning about the process of opening a business, and we were lucky enough to be able to visit Vero Spin,” Mohr explained. “Greg (Zugrave) established the program in the fall of 2016 to enhance the financial and life skills of our students, but also to serve as a catalyst for finding professional passions.”
Mohr attended an introductory open house shortly before Vero Spin officially launched. He met Aurelija Merrill and got the ball rolling.
“Scott told us about the entrepreneurship class and thought it would be great for the kids to see a real-life example of a local business getting started,” Merrill said. “We thought they could help us with their ideas, and we were willing to share our story with them. We had a question-and-answer session. They had a lot of ideas to throw at us.
“One of the boys enjoyed the experience and said he would like to become a certified spin teacher. He asked us how he could start the process. A girl said she was working on developing online registration apps for businesses like ours. She wanted to meet with us and talk more about it.
“Coming here got them thinking about how they could be a part of this.”
The class will produce a final essay and present it to the new business owners for consideration. Two students provided a sneak preview of what it might include.
“After attending our first class I immediately emailed Aurelija and asked about the process required to become a spin instructor,” junior Andrew Hurwitz said. “I would love for this to become a part-time job. Our entrepreneurship class emphasizes finding our passions. I knew nothing about spinning and now I might get a job at a spin studio.”
Villanova-bound senior Maura Ramsey added, “Vero Spin is a really fun and cool studio, a great environment for working out. Walking in as a beginner I felt very welcomed and encouraged the whole time, never intimidated or nervous. In our class we learned that one of the foundational keys for any business is client experience. Vero Spin recognized our needs and hosted an awesome workout.”
It is well documented that the odds are not in favor of small business start-ups, but a collaborative effort like the one between St. Ed’s and Vero Spin can’t help but be beneficial for both parties. That goal should be admired by the entire community.
“This is the best of both worlds,” Christie Mackin said of the Vero Spin relationship with St. Ed’s. “The students see us and they see how we did this to realization. We know that many of them will find a way to explore their passions, perhaps by becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses.
“The benefit for us is seeing the kids come here and providing an example of how to stay fit for a healthier lifestyle through cardiovascular exercise in a low-impact environment. We knew this would be a slow build at times, but our experience has been phenomenal.
“This all just fits in with how we feel about ourselves, the studio, and the Vero Beach community. We just want people to come in and try it out. This is a phenomenal sport that has become very, very popular.”
This promising endeavor is a real-world case study of the nexus between fitness, sports and the economy. It is doubtful that something of this nature would be so fully illuminated when presented via a textbook.
“The entrepreneurship class prepares our students for the future in ways that traditional course work cannot,” Zugrave summarized. “We want our students to engage with our business community, learn about specific issues, and understand the trial and errors associated with the business cycle.”
“Working with great local businesses like Vero Spin makes this course possible.”