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Updated: Nov 14, 2017
With three kids, Patti Garrand had seen her fair share of bad birthday parties. And like any good entrepreneur (and mom!), she wanted to fix this common issue. So she cashed in her pension, took out an SBA loan, and opened up TreePaad Fun Center — an award-winning center with rock climbing, laser tag, arcade games, and, most importantly, freshly baked pizza.
“We designed TreePaad Fun Center so that if you bring your family here, there’s something for everyone to do. Our space is about 20,000 square feet, which gives kids enough space to run around and get some energy out,” she explains.
“We do about 50 parties every weekend — that’s a lot of Happy Birthdays.”
For years, business was thriving. In fact, TreePaad outgrew its building within the first year.
However, Patti found that after a while, the kids and parents would get tired of the activities and start looking for a new place to frequent. “In this type of business, new places come along all the time. If you don’t continually grow and add new things, you start seeing a decline in attendance.”
Patti knew that in order to encourage people to keep coming back, she’d need to make some additions — and if she wanted to take advantage of the slower summer months to renovate, she’d need to act fast.
As she did when she first started out, she turned to a bank to get an SBA loan. Then she waited. And waited. And waited.
After weeks of silence, Patti finally decided she couldn’t wait any longer. She applied for a loan with Funding Circle, and within 10 days, she was funded. “They gave me an offer before my SBA lender even called me back. Working with Funding Circle was like night and day. The difference was incredible. The paperwork was less, the stress was less, and the wait was minimal. It was amazing.”
“Our Funding Circle loan gave us some great opportunities.”
With her $215,000 loan, Patti was able to redo her laser tag area and install a completely new activity: Atomic Rush — an arcade-style game that’s like a futuristic, LED version of Simon Says. Now that the weather is getting colder and families are looking for more indoor activities, she expects these new additions to be a big hit. “It’ll make it so that we have that much more revenue going into the fall.”
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Patti’s mindset is “if you don’t try, you’ll never know.” It was a risk cashing in everything to start a new business, but she has no regrets and loves what she does. “The best thing is for a kid to walk in and go ‘oh my gosh!’ When they come in, it’s a visual. There are so many bright colors and lights, and they get so excited. It’s really nice to see.”
This willingness to try new things also paid off when it came to her business financing. Now, Patti says she’ll never go back to traditional funding: “We highly recommend using Funding Circle because going through the SBA process was not only painful and slow, but dreadful. I wouldn’t even attempt to apply to another bank ever.”
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.