From IWU Magazine, Summer 2017 edition
Student Credits University Support for Mobile Fitness Launch
Sidebar Story by KIM HILL
For DTE Program Director Bruno deHarak, it doesn’t matter how many students have declared the DTE major. He’s much more interested in how many students’ lives are impacted by some aspect of the program, and Chris Crown ’17 might be the perfect example of that.
Crown took “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” with instructor Tara Gerstner in his last semester at IWU. “The curriculum sounded useful, and I was interested in the new DTE program,” recalled Crown, an environmental studies major who was named Outstanding Senior in that program. “I was absolutely floored when [Gerstner] went through all we were going to do during the first day of class.”
The idea “to start your own dream company flows smoothly when you are sitting in one of your last classes before you set out into the real world and you’re submerged in this amazing atmosphere of entrepreneurs,” says Crown. With Gerstner’s encouragement, Crown has created WILD Fitness, a mobile fitness company offering fast-paced, high-intensity movements. Think food trucks, except providing exercise rather than gourmet tacos.
Crown was one of the students who was asked to present his concept at the IWU Entrepreneurship Society Networking Event in Chicago in May. He was “wowed” by the opportunity to rub elbows with successful entrepreneurs, nearly all of them IWU graduates. “Every person I met was excited about my idea and impressed by the novelty of it,” says Crown. “Several marketing firms expressed interest in helping with my brand. I also got some great feedback on potential expansion opportunities.”
The most memorable moment for Crown, however, was pitching his idea to Dave Petrick ’67 and hearing that Petrick thought it was solid. “Getting to meet with Dave in person,” Crown marvels, “how cool!”
Thus far Crown has created the brand, built a website, and produced video trailers. He’s still securing equipment and needs to settle on a location to base the business. He says Gerstner has been a major factor in his progress.
“She’s helped me not only with branding ideas and marketing connections but has been a major force of encouragement,” says Crown. “I would never have come up with this idea if it hadn’t been for the exposure to entrepreneurship in her class,” where students learn to observe underserved markets, generate solutions, assess them, and develop a sustainable organizational model.