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Hidden Gems: Meet Tony Chang of BounceU of Apex

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Chang.

Hi Tony, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
After spending 20+ years in software development and management, I decided to do something different and be my own boss. We purchased the BounceU Franchise in 2008 and started the entrepreneur journey. BounceU is a premier venue with gigantic inflatable structures for private children’s birthday parties. We make birthdays unique with indoor 100% private arenas packed with bounce houses, giant slides, and obstacle courses just for child’s big day.

The initial road from an Engineer to Entrepreneur was a bumpy one. It took us 18 months to found the current location and we were in the middle of recession at Grand Opening. By the time we opened, we were also faced with multiple new competitors. We had a modest growth in the first two years after we opened but we kept working and progressing. Our party business has had a double digit growth year after year since 2011 (until the reset by COVID-19 in 2020).

In 2011, we expanded into children camp business. I used my core training and experience in Technology and developed camp curriculums in Robotics, LEGO Engineering, Stop-Motion Animation, Drones… from scratch. It gives children a daily balance of playtime and imagination! Our camp business is a great success and complements to our private party business.

During these years, we received multiple awards from local medias, ranked top stores among the BounceU system in the United States.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The beginning part of our journey was a bit bumpy as it took us about 18 months to locate our current location; we found few other locations before but all met with different challenges such as zoning, permits… etc. (which are mostly out of our control). By the time we were ready to open, we were faced with multiple new competitors and in an economic downturn. We didn’t give up and found a way to survive by offering unique products/services; and eventually outlast many of our competitors. We have enjoyed steady growth since then.

Obviously, the pandemic impacted us deeply; we were closed for the majority of 2020 and the recovery is slow. The pandemic has hit everyone hard, but some businesses have suffered more than others. Entertainment venues like BounceU are one of these industries; we do not have an option to offer our services remotely and entertainment is not an essential product/service. We used the shutdown period to upgrade our facility and adjusted business model to accommodate the post-pandemic era. During the pandemic, we learned to cope so that we are ready to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

But whatever happens, I will never regret starting on my entrepreneur journey. I have learned(and still learning) so much and met so many great people along the way.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about BounceU of Apex?
BounceU is a great destination for Birthday Parties, Camps and just a fun outing for the kids. BounceU has the best and friendliest staff, making our customer’s experience enjoyable and stress-free. We have 100% Private Parties which is a great benefit to hosting a party here at BounceU. Parties aren’t mixed together, so the birthday child and family can just enjoy with their guests. We are one of the few places in the area offer 100% private parties.

Our Technology Camps are a great way for campers to experience fun new LEGO & Technology Projects (Robots, Drones, LEGO Engineering, Stop Motion, etc.) and still get to bounce on all of our exciting inflatables. Campers work both individually and/or in small teams (2-3) and participate in various fun challenges. It gives children a daily balance of playtime and imagination! We offer our Technology Camps for all school calendars (yearly round, summer, holidays and Teacher’s Work days).

During the Pandemic, we were looking for ways to best serve our customers and created our Private Playdates (private Open bounce sessions). We will continue to offer these where families and friends can book an event and enjoy the bounce session all to themselves.

Any big plans?
As a strong believer that there is always opportunity for uniqueness and compelling products/services; we will continue to upgrade our facility and incorporate new experiences periodically to keep our customers excited and wanting to revisit.

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