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example, York convinced Yankee Stadium to allow him to operate on-site in the 2002 and 2003 seasons and he was the first Maui Wowi franchisee to operate in a major league baseball stadium. He also realized that there was likely to be a market for the product at corporate events, which now comprise a substantial portion of his business.

“I looked hard at Sylvan Learning Centers, and I am a great admirer of the company,” said York. “I chose Maui Wowi instead for two reasons: I did not want to be tied to a particular retail location. The movable kiosks were attractive. At Sylvan, I could invest lots of money and then discover that there was a problem with the location. Second, Maui Wowi was far less mature, so I could see that there were lots of creative ways I could add value to the franchise formula.” In discussions with the parent franchisor, York could see that the chain was genuinely open to his innovative ideas. York also noted that the start-up costs for a Maui Wowi franchise were far below the much higher franchise fee of Sylvan Learning, and that there was also the capital-intensive nature of the build-out for a Sylvan location. York also liked the idea of operating without full-time employees. All of the carts are operated by part-time employees who work at an hourly rate.

York’s description of his focus and operating style sounds very much like that of a go-it-alone entrepreneur. He is filled with enthusiasm and knows that he needs to keep reinventing the business. He says that, “For 2004, the Yankees wanted a huge marketing fee—I guess every dollar counts when they’re trying to make their payroll. So I decided not to go back to the stadium. It was an easy decision. I’d already had many other opportunities that filled the void, even more profitably . . . I will always need to be developing new ideas for the business to continue to prosper, but that’s part of what I enjoy.”

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GO IT ALONE! Copyright 2004 by Bruce Judson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.