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Columbia Business Monthly

2019 SC 25 Fastest Growing Companies: No. 14 9Round Franchising, LLC

LEADERSHIP Shannon Hudson | Founder & CEO, Heather Hudson | Founder & COO

INDUSTRY Fitness

LOCATION Simpsonville

FOUNDED 2008

If someone were to make a movie about your company, what would be the story you'd want to tell? 

(Shannon) It would definitely be a mix of "Cinderella Man," "Rocky" and "Love Story." "Cinderella Man" because 9Round began as a bit of an underdog; elements of "Rocky" because our brand is committed to igniting a fighter spirit in all of our members; and "Love Story" because my wife Heather and I are the "power couple" that made this 9Round dream of ours a reality. Of course, it would be a box office hit. 

What is the one thing that you would want others to know about your company?

I founded 9Round with my wife Heather because I knew from my experience as a world champion kickboxer that this sport offers a high-intensity workout in a short amount of time. I wanted to bring that combination of intensity and convenience to people everywhere"¦ without the "getting hit" part. 

To this day, 11 years later, this is the same fitness model we've stuck with across our nearly 800 locations around the world. Our mission is to make people "stronger in 30 minutes, both physically and mentally," because we know the positive impact our workout has on people's bodies as well as on their overall confidence. This is why our brand translates so well in other countries—fitness is a universal language, and 9Round keeps the conversation simple yet effective. 

How do you manage fast growth? What advice would you give to a company in growth mode? 

9Round's accelerated global growth has been the result of franchising, which we saw from the very beginning as the ideal route to achieving our vision on an international scale. By offering 9Round's licensing privileges to capable and passionate entrepreneurs, we are able to spread our mission on a global scale through mutually beneficial relationships. This way, not only can we reach more members, but we can also play a role in supporting the "American dreams" of aspiring business owners everywhere.  

Do you have a mentor or life coach?

Much of my journey to business ownership has paralleled my experiences as a professional athlete. Just as I looked to draw inspiration from the star kickboxers before me, I do the same in business. 

But on a more personal level, my wife Heather has actually set a great example for me both in business and in life. Opening our first 9Round studio in 2008 wasn't necessarily the most financially sound decision at that time, but nonetheless, Heather still stuck by me and supported my dreams. As our company's co-founder and COO today, she is instrumental in not only keeping us moving toward our ultimate goals, but she also keeps us grounded and focused on what we need to do to get there. 

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