When business partners Bradley Wohlers and Laurie Barger set out to fund their innovative small business idea – the young entrepreneurs faced immediate rejection. “We went through a lot of meetings with SBA lenders, and to be quite frank, we were laughed out of some meetings,” said Wohlers.
The Mahtomedi, MN native admits, their idea is different – but it had the potential to disrupt the entertainment market in the East Metro area of the Twin Cities.
The idea developed over time as Wohlers, an accomplished amateur golfer, realized the options for indoor golf practice was limited. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a few years in the workforce, the then 26-year-old set out to open a state-of-the-art indoor golf facility. He joined forces with his partner Laurie Barger, a Monticello, MN native with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and another Master’s Degree in Leadership. The pair created a thorough business plan, developed accurate financial projections and sought funding – eventually meeting 21st Century Bank’s Blair Oklobzija.
These loans are backed by banks and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) and provide flexible financing options for individuals with limited credit history or businesses that do not qualify for a conventional loan. The SBA 7(a) Loans are popular for startups, giving business owners access to working capital for furniture, fixtures, leasehold improvements and more.
Since January 2019, Wohlers and Barger have run the business side-by-side, often working 12- to 15-hour shifts alongside 8 employees. They pride themselves in providing the best tools, technology and resources to get golfers “In [their] element, against all elements.” The small business features top-of-the-line GOLFZON Simulator Technology, with options for all ages and experience levels. Between the technology investment and its fun, group-friendly atmosphere – the business is already seeing success.