Laura Beyer and Maria Van Abel created 360U as a way to merge their business training, love of softball, and desire to empower young women. The athletes in their program not only improve their softball game, but also gain life skills like increased confidence, situational strategies, and mental approach techniques. Beyer and Van Abel, who are sisters, started by jotting down ideas on a white board – and by seeking help from SCORE. Last year, they registered more than 1,500 athletes for 360U lessons, and project that they will register 4,000 by the end of 2018.
With a four-to-one instructor-to-student ratio, 360U sessions help girls work through anxieties and pressures they feel about softball. In the process, the girls become more confident individuals and carry that confidence out into the world. 360U offers camps, one-on-one instruction, and small group lessons, even assisting families with the college recruitment process. Parents attest that they’ve seen their daughters’ confidence and skills transformed through their participation in the program.
Beyer and Van Abel leased their own headquarters three years ahead of projection, nearly doubling their income between 2016 and 2017. They now have zero debt and no outstanding loans. 360U now employs five part-time staff members and has plans to offer an online instructional forum to reach athletes and coaches across the country. In 2018, 360U was a finalist for the 2018 American Small Business Championship
Beyer and Van Abel worked with SCORE mentor Jim Heiting, which they say was the best decision they have made. Beyer says, “Through Jim, we have found direction for ALL business functions including payroll, marketing, taxes, the hiring process, asset management, legal questions, sustainable growth, planning, and many other areas. Jim does not simply give us a quick answer – he is extremely thorough and has encouraged us to understand the functions and processes of all of aspects of our business, versus just outsourcing tasks.”
According to Beyer, Heiting was instrumental in helping 360U lease their own facility. “Had Jim not encouraged us to forecast and understand the relationship between our growth and facility needs, we may not have had the foresight and confidence to take the leap towards leasing our own space as quickly as we did,” says Beyer.