As National Small Business Month continues, Charlotte-based entrepreneur Jerome Touchstone is reflecting on how his experience as a former athlete and background in fintech has led to a growing portfolio of businesses that is continuing to thrive. With Charlotte ranking No. 13 on WalletHub’s recent list of Best Large Cities to Start a Business, Touchstone notes that key resources in the Queen City, such as access to resources and a strong business environment, were critical to launching two Black-owned companies – Hello Garage of Southeast Charlotte and Gymonkee – within three years.
“I was able to build a supportive network and couple that with business acumen to get my businesses on track. While being a business owner is about putting in hard work, it’s also about being coachable and willing to coach others,” said Touchstone, a former football player at Appalachian State University who moved into fintech after earning a Master of Business Administration. “Time and time again, I’ve seen how lessons from the football field have translated to my life now in entrepreneurship.”
His latest venture is a foray into home improvement after witnessing the segment’s growth during the early days of the pandemic and with the industry expected to reach a U.S. market value exceeding $600 billion by 2025. Last November, Touchstone became a franchisee of popular garage renovation company Hello Garage, where “Garage Gurus” help transform spaces by perfecting things that make the most impact: flooring, storage and accessories. Since launching, his team of five has completed more than 35 renovations.
In 2018, Touchstone co-founded Gymonkee after struggling to find quality fitness options while traveling for work. The subscription-based mobile application offers its members a digital gym pass granting discounted access to national and regional chains across the country. Members “swing” into partnering fitness centers and customize experiences allowing them to determine the best options to reach their health goals. Despite the significant impact of the pandemic on indoor gyms, the Black-owned tech startup has amassed nearly 1,000 memberships and partnerships with more than 50 fitness facilities.
Touchstone knows the sky’s the limit with respect to future business endeavors.
“This is only the beginning; there are many other areas I’m looking to explore,” he said. “I’m working to leave a legacy that makes a positive impact on my family and my community.”
About Hello Garage
Backed by more than 45 years’ experience through its parent company Supportworks, Hello Garage is on a mission to elevate the garage from cluttered junk drawer to America’s true front door. More than that, Hello Garage franchisees aim to make the entire Hello Garage experience so remarkable, every homeowner will want to tell their friends about it. Hello Garage helps homeowners organize and personalize their entire space with high-end polyaspartic floor coating proven to outlast epoxy, an exclusively offered and totally customizable storage system, and other garage accessories. Beyond proving industry-leading products, the creators of Hello Garage wanted homeowners to experience working with a trusted contractor. The core of the company is centered around providing a redefining experience for the customer – and has led to a successful business model with franchise locations across the country. For more information, visit hellogarage.com.
Founded in 2018, Gymonkee is a subscription-based mobile application that offers its members a digital gym pass granting discounted access to national and regional chains across the country. Members “swing” into partnering fitness centers and customize experiences allowing them to determine the best options to reach their health goals. Visit gymonkee.com for more information.