John Burns MBA’05 knew his prognosis wasn’t great.
Two days after pulling his groin muscle in a recreational hockey game, Burns, in his mid-40s at the time, paid a visit to the TB12 Sports Therapy Center in Foxborough with the hope of rehabbing his injury.
Though he struggled to walk at the time, it wasn’t long before he was back to being an athlete.
“They got me better in two, three weeks,” Burns said. “Being an entrepreneur, I said, ‘There’s something here.’”
For Burns, the treatment sessions marked the beginning of a journey where he would invest, and later be named CEO of TB12 Sports. He currently leads of team of 75 employees who strive to work with athletes to achieve peak performance while channeling fitness habits of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“It was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up,” Burns said. “It’s a very unique experience, I’ve been fortunate to be involved with a lot of great people in different situations over my career.”
Burns joined brand architect and strategist Larry Gulko MBA’76 at the Schlesinger Innovation Center last week to discuss his entrepreneurial journey, and optimal ways innovators can build your brand.
Find What Makes You Unique
TB12 Sports services and offerings are based off Brady’s lifestyle and fitness beliefs of muscle pliability, functional strength and conditioning, nutrition, hydration, and cognitive fitness.
It’s this that makes the brand stand out from other sports therapy businesses.
“When you build your brand, you’ve got to find your unique place,” Burns said. “We’re in the business of longevity, what we’re selling is the opportunity to do what you love longer, and better.”
TB12 Sports hasn’t been Burns’ only unique venture. He also has invested in Grillo’s Pickles, a business which originally sold its products out of a wooden cart on Boston Common, Spartan Race, and Oath Pizza, a small-format pizza concept which made a name for itself by using an avocado oil crust.
Identify a Target Demographic
Being in the business of longevity may not have the same appeal to athletes in their 20s as compared to athletes in their 40s.
That’s why TB12 Sports targets athletes between 35 and 40 years old, who are seeking to continue to compete and train like they did in their late teens and 20s.
“All of us suffer from one common problem; that’s the march of time,” Burns said. “How many people have missed something because their shoulder hurt, their knee hurt? That is our market.”
Retain Your Customer to Successfully Build Your Brand
TB12 Sports has developed its customer base by fixating on those who interact with them the most: their employees.
“The best thing we can do to keep you coming back is having great advocates for our brand,” Burns said.
At TB12 Sports, 50 percent of customers who visit for a one-on-one session with a body coach return for a second session, Burns said. Of that 50 percent, 90 percent return for a third session.
“We’re in such a special place to change people’s lives,” Burns said. “You always have to look at things through the customers’ eyes. I use and experience everything we do, I don’t think you can be the CEO of a company in the consumer space without doing that.”
“I walked out of there when I couldn’t walk in,” Burns added.” I know what we do works.”