Photo and story by KeWana McCallum / Contributing Writer
Sarah Nuse, the founder of Tippi Toes, came to MTSU to speak on Monday in the Student Union Building as a part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week events that are being held on campus.
Global Entrepreneurship Week events take place throughout 160 countries in November and are meant to inspire millions of people to engage in entrepreneurial activity. During the events held on the MTSU campus, speakers will visit throughout the week to explain their business and how it was created. Throughout the week, students are also welcome to pitch any ideas they may have for a business, and they have the chance to enter in a business-model competition and earn a cash reward.
Nuse spoke about how her business, which brings dance lessons to schools, child-care centers and after-school programs, got started.
A sophomore in college and fresh out of a job, Nuse decided to teach kids how to dance at a daycare near her school. She loved to dance, and she loved kids. She thought that working at the daycare would be the perfect fit.
“I went to the local daycare just right down the street from the university, and I said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you’d want me to come teach dance,'” Nuse said.
Nuse was told that, in order to teach the children, she would have to make flyers for the parents to see and announce her company’s name.
“As I’m leaving, I’m like, ‘Company name? I’m totally not a company.’”
With the help of her mom, Nuse was able to come up with the name, Tippi Toes, and a company logo.
“At that moment, my business started,” she said.
Nuse had 10 kids sign up for her program and was charging $25 a month for the class.
“I was right in my passion,” Nuse said. “That’s exactly what I want to do; instill a love of dance with kids.”
Soon, another daycare heard about Nuse’s class and became interested.
“It was about a month later that I realized this school had about nine locations around the university,” Nuse said.
Nuse began to work on the classes for nine hours during the week and gained 200 dancers for her class.
Still a student in school, Nuse decided that she no longer wanted to major in elementary education and decided to get a degree in communications. While interning in Kansas City, Nuse started teaching dance classes in that area as well.
“What started to happen was I started plotting it all across the area where I was,” Nuse said. “I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Stillwater Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma and now Kansas City.”
Many people bought into Nuse’s idea and later became franchise owners. In the process of the business’s rapid growth, Nuse and her sister became contestants on the show, “Shark Tank.”
“It was a very interesting process,” Nuse said. “We started with about 500 other entrepreneurs, and we worked with them for about six months before we were TV ready.”
After they made it through the six months, they received a call from the producers of the show.
“They said, ‘Hey, you guys made it to the next round of Shark Tank,’” Nuse said.
When the sisters got to California, they were immediately sent to a room with 200 other entrepreneurs, who had made it to the next round as well. There, they had to pitch their idea in front of everyone.
“It’s like, really intimidating,” she said.
Nuse and her sister ended up making it to the final round.
“We hired these kids to do our Tippi Toes stuff,” Nuse said. “Thankfully, they lightened the room quite a bit.”
After two minutes of pitching their idea, the judges threw questions out to them, left and right. Some of the questions made Nuse second-guess whether her idea was really good enough.
“They ask you things that are totally off the wall,” Nuse said.
Mark Cuban allowed Nuse and Megan to offer him a deal, and he quickly accepted.
“He says, ‘Hey, I’m ready to do business,’” Nuse said. “‘Here’s my contract.’”
Nuse got a bad feeling about the deal and called her husband, who thought it was a great deal. She then called her sister, who also had the same feeling. They decided to take the paperwork to a lawyer for review.
“The lawyer calls and says, ‘You would be out of your ever-loving mind to accept this deal,'” Nuse said. “It was just crazy what he would own and what he would take if we did not follow a bunch of what he wanted us to do.”
Nuse and her sister chose not to take the deal, and Nuse encourages students never to let anyone take over their passion with their own ideas.
Other entrepreneurs that will be speaking throughout the week include John Bosworth, Kristen Shanine, Stacy Aaron and Greg Lewis.
For more information on Global Entrepreneurship Week at MTSU, click here.
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