Opening & operating indoor cycling or official Spin® studios…is our passion, is it yours?

Spynergy Studio Curve

Our studio near Boston

Welcome.  Over the past 7 years, we have successfully launched and operated a family of unique indoor cycling studios — and also helped others launch theirs. Spin® or cycling studios are small businesses that are fun….and profitable.   In addition to running our own studios, Spynergy Consulting provides business planning, start-up, operations, web development and marketing services to entrepreneurs and small business owners.  Take a look through this blog, visit our studios near Boston and Chicago, and read up!   Call us anytime to discuss your ideas and we’ll let you know what we can do to help.  If this is your first visit… are a few articles you may find interesting.

Articles beneath here date back a few years and appear chronologically (most recent first).  You can also navigate to articles of interest by checking the “Categories” listed in the right hand side of this page.

Would you like to connect?
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Bill Pryor
781-254-3677  (call anytime)




What makes the “wheel go round” for a studio business? INSTRUCTORS

 Lot’s of talk about technology lately — but let’s not forget what is STILL, the fundamental attraction of successful studios:  a gifted instructor that uses unique energy and the power of music to create an exhilarating experience in the studio. ………………Looking forward to IHRSA in San Diego this coming week; shoot me an email if you are planning to attend and would like to chat!  Very anxious to see new bikes, new systems, new studio ideas and new studio entrepreneurs!  

Katie 3_Spynergy_Portraits_161Earlier this week, I was powerfully reminded of the importance of instructors.  I took off my instructor/studio owner hat and became a student….a class attendee.  I went to the brand new FlyWheel and Soul Cycle — both in the Boston area.  Both had uber-trendy decor, both had custom-made bikes, both had great sound systems and cool lighting, one had ‘power-metrics’, one had free shoes……guess which class I liked better?


In the final analysis, it’s about instructors.  All the rest is trappings.  If you ask 100 hard core Spinners / Indoor cyclists what’s the most important thing about the experience — 98 of them will tell you the instructors.  Which would you rather attend?  A rundown studio with a fantastic instructor, or a state-Harry Victory_Spynergy_Portraits_912of-the-art facility with a boring / annoying instructor?  You’re not alone.

Nature or Nurture?  Are great instructors born or made?  In my opinion its 80% nature.  The ability to capture a roomful of people using the power of your personality — and to truly engage and motivate them… an ability one is born with.  Yes, you can hone that skill and improve it through practice and training, that’s the other 20%.   If you believe this, the challenge for a studio owner is primarily hiring and retaining great instructors.  Training is important, but useless if you’ve hired the wrong people.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll look at all the fancy bells and whistles at IHRSA — and I’m curious what the latest products and technologies are, but when push comes to shove the secret to getting ‘butts into seats’ is only a little bit about the products….it’s a LOT about the people.  Agree?  Disagree?  Feel free to comment.


Cycling Studio Trend: Peformance metrics as one way to differentiate and build loyal client base

Summary:  Indoor cycling studios are opening at an increasing pace,  and studio owners are looking for innovative ways to differentiate themselves and to motivate clients.  In that effort, many are choosing to add “performance metrics technology” where clients can view, save and track workout performance data. The industry leader in delivering these kinds of solutions is Chicago-based Performance IQ.  Their technology is starting to turn up in many Indoor Cycling and Spinning® studios in a variety of configurations.

yin yang imageLast year, we posted an article in the Spynergy Consulting blog on the “Yin” and “Yang” of indoor cycling experiences.  “Yin” classes as exemplified by studios like JoyRide, Spynergy and Soul Cycle, stress the immersive, escapist experience that can be created using music, lighting and talented energetic instructors.   “Yang” classes, as exemplified by studios like Full Psycle and FlyWheel  use some of those same elements but also stress performance data as a key element in class construction.   Both kinds of studios have been successful but recent technical developments have led a number of startups to take a hard look at integrating performance data in some way to their business.

In a number of cases, the use of performance metrics is changing the face of the traditional indoor cycling or Spin® class.  Outdoor cyclists have long had access  tools like Computrainers to allow them to measure and analyze their efforts, but for indoor cycling  classes, the introduction of this kinds of technology is a recent phenomenon that is picking up steam.  Many new studio entrepreneurs are building some form of performance metrics into their cycling studio model and many of the early adopters feel it is a differentiator and selling point that helps their business.

What really is “performance metrics” as it pertains to a cycling class?  The major bike manufacturers all offer consoles or metrics capabilities asPIQ image a built in feature or as an add-on option.  Further,  Chicago-based Performance IQ, in partnership with companies like ZingFit, LiveEdit and Mindbody Online, has led development of products that can measure, present and track a few different kinds of data:  Cadence, Heart Rate, Power (watt) output, Calories burned, and mileage.  This information can be viewed in several ways

1)    On-the-bike….so each rider can see real time data and instructors can refer to the data and coach/teach using the info

2)    In front of the class….so class participants can see their own information as well as data on fellow class mates

3)    After the class (data tracking)….performance data can be stored online so riders can view and compare historic performances including some interesting stats like average and maximum power/HR and power per pound of body weight.

Different studio owners are deploying this in different ways depending on their vision and their clientele.  Some use it only in select classes, others make it an integral part of each class.  Paul Harmeling, co-owner of Full Psycle in Costa Mesa, California comments

“……Performance IQ, along with instructor quality, facilities, and customer service, differentiates us from the rest. It’s an excellent tool for both in-class participation  and for post-class customer retention……..”

Karen Casler, owner of CB Cycle Barn in San Clemente also commented:

“…..PIQ absolutely keeps people coming back.  Especially those that are there to work hard!  I definitely feel that it also breeds loyalty and retention…..”

Spynergy Consulting has provided business planning and consulting services to over 80 studio startups in the past 2 years, and we have noticed a dramatic uptick in interest in how technology elements can be used to enhance the cycling studio model.  Performance IQ has 85 clients in 9 countries and is anticipating 100 more installations this year.  Bike suppliers like Schwinn, StarTrac, Freemotion, Keiser and Real Ryder have all acknowledged the importance of performance metrics in one way or another with their products and planning. (We will report more on this after the upcoming IHRSA show in March).

If you would like to learn more about the capabilities and pricing for performance metrics systems —- or would like a free demo from Performance IQ or related suppliers: CLICK HERE

IHRSA Note:  Visit Performance IQ at the IHRSA Trade Show coming March 13th to 15th in San Diego.  PIQ products can be seen at the booths of several major indoor cycling bike suppliers.  Spynergy Consulting (Bill), will also be at IHRSA, drop me a line if you would like to meet and chat!

5 new cycling studios just opened their doors!

In the past 3 years Spynergy Consulting has worked with over 90 cycling studio entrepreneurs to help get their businesses going.  Here are 5 experiencing the thrills and the stress of opening right now!…..These are real people, and this is a brief snapshot of  the “babies” they have given birth to!  Visit their sites (and their studios!)…..wishing them the best of luck! 


 Ultimate Cycling, near St. Louis

     Stuart and his wife open for business December 9th!  Equipment includes Schwinn Bikes, Performance IQ.  Spynergy business plan delivered early August, we also provided operating manual and studio set-up consulting.  Ultimate Cyclng stresses the class experience,  “green” policies and technology as they build their studio brand. 10-class pack is $160.

Wired Cycling, Washington DC

    Leticia is a superstar instructor who is also offering here own Wired Cycling instructor  certifications.  Her 25 bike studio opens in early January, their tagline is:  Cycling. Training. Seriously   Spynergy began working with Wired in January of 2013 and provided business planning and operations consulting.  10-class pack: $124.

  Ride Revolution, Northern New Jersey

   Stephanie contacted Spynergy in January of 2013, so the journey was 10 months.  Studio offers a range of classes from 45 to 60 minutes, Schwinn bikes, Performance IQ, and a 10-class rate of $210.  Ride Revolution tagline is Reach Your Own Peak.



Burn Cycle, Portland

   Jessi was a busy lady….she had a baby a month before the studio opened….WOW.  Their 10-class is $165 and they have a couple of great taglines:  Cycling for Every Body and Welcome to the Pack, Let’s Ride! 20 bikes, nice branding effort.  Launched in early fall, is now adding bikes and classes.


Evolution ByCycle, New Jersey

   Alison got moving in earnest with a Spynergy project in April.  The studio is one week old and working out the bugs.  She loves her Schwinn bikes and will implement Performance IQ later.   10-class pack is $145.  Tagline:  Believe.  Achieve.  Evolve.

If you are considering a spin studio franchise (there are none available), or opening your own cycling studio (many are doing this right now), it is comforting to know that real people, small business entrepreneurs, are doing this as we speak!  Contact Spynergy Consulting for more information on opening your own cycling studio, or launching your own spin studio.

Survey of cycling studio and Spin® studio owners

wheel imageHow are cycling studios doing?   Spynergy Consulting has aided close to 80 cycling studio startups in the past 2 years.  Recently, we conducted a survey of independent cycling (and Spin) studio owners who have actually opened their doors.  43 owners responded to a variety of questions about the startup process and their business issues.

General Highlights

  • Half the studios are less than 2 years old, half are older than 2 years
  • Most important “success factors” noted by owners: Instructors and Location
  • Most effective marketing:  1) Search engine findability, 2) Social media, 3) Groupon, etc.

Question was asked:  Do you have a non-spin secondary offering?

  • 70% are Cycling only, 30% have a secondary offering (barre, core, yoga, etc.).       Note:  5 of the top 6 studios in terms of revenue were cycling-only.

Question was asked:  How’s the studio doing financially? 

Highly profitable / above expectations:       9.5%
Profitable / per expectation                             19%
Breaking even / optimistic                                39%
Unprofitable / optimistic                                  25%
Unprofitable / concerned                                  7%
Note:  This is existing studios.  In a separate analysis, Spynergy Consulting discovered a 17% failure rate amongst studio startups within 2 years.

Question was asked:  What have been your major challenges?

” getting the word out is harder than expected ”
” runaway startup costs ”
” finding great instructors ”
” competition from cheaper alternatives  or the big guys ”

Question was asked:  Are you having fun?
YES:   84%
NO:  16%

More information from this survey will be published in future articles.   There is great information in here from actual studio operators…this is not speculation, this is real data.  Studio owners face a variety of challenges and have a broad range of results.  Monthly revenue for these survey recipients ranged between $2,000 and $90,000.  As we have discussed in previous articles, a well-executed studio in the right location with great instructors can be a home run.  Is it simple?  No.  Is it possible?  Absolutely.  Contact me if you’d like some help getting there.

Start-up Spin® Studios and Cycling studios (not franchises) are growing

Spynergy Consulting clients in the last 5 months have signed leases or opened in New Jersey (2), St. Louis, Portsmouth, Oakland, Princeton, San Francisco, Birmingham, Brooklyn, Portland (Oregon AND Maine), Long Island, Sydney, Richmond, Montauk, Columbus, and Worcester……..what about your town?  Each of these entrepreneurs is embarking on a life-changing adventure, and each has a chance…with hard work, to create a profitable, fun and rewarding business.     

Indoor cycling and Spin studios are here to stay!  All market indicators are up.  There are no Spin Studio Franchises for sale, so if you want one in your town, you need to be an entrepreneur and launch your own!  Are all launches huge successes?  No.  But many are.  Here are a few of what we’ve seen to be “critical success factors” for successful entrepreneurs. 


1) Planning.  You need a business plan to get your arms around a) the investment, b) the income potential, c) the timing, and d) the key things that need to be done to make the business successful.  We do business plans, but whether you hire us or do it yourself, it needs to be done.


2) A Vision for your studio.  Successful studios create an experience in each class.  There is no one right answer and different studios create very different experiences.  What is your vision?  Ideally it should be unique based on your area, your clientele and your own unique approach.   



3) Location, Location, Location.   Our clients have launched over 60 studios in the past few years.  If you asked them all the toughest part?  Here would be the answer: “finding a good location at the right price and building out the space”.  This more than ANYTHING is what can delay your startup.  What constitutes a “good” location?  Depends on your target market!  


4) Marketing, Marketing, Marketing.

Other than choosing the wrong location a key mistake made by startups is NOT TAKING MARKETING SERIOUSLY…..also known as focusing on the wrong things.  You need to spend time AND money on marketing.  If you aren’t good yourself, then outsource it. 5) Instructors, Instructors, Instructors.  Seriously, let’s not over complicate what makes a studio successful.  I wrote a blog post in 2010 on this topic and it is just as true today:  People come back to cycling studios because of instructors.  Bikes, studio decor and amenities are nice….but without top instructors your studio will struggle.  You know it in your gut….don’t forget it.


Biggest Mistake by Startup Cycling Studios

“…..From the moment you sign your lease, you should think of having two simultaneous construction projects underway 1) The buildout of your space and 2) The building of a marketing  plan…..”

Many studio-starters obsess over space buildout and ignore marketing.  Marketing is not cheap, and marketing is not easy, but marketing needs to be done.  It is building your community and it is driving traffic into the studio. Making a nice studio space is only one small component in making a successful and profitable fitness studio business.

I have been somehow involved with the startup of over 60 cycling studios in the past 2 and half years.  I’ve seen raging successes and I’ve seen a few go under.  I am also a business owner of my own studios….I’ve launched them from scratch…..I taught classes in the early days with 2 or 3 people in a class…..I’ve worried about paying too much for rent…I’ve stressed over finding great instructors…..and I’ve also watched my studios grow to become mature, profitable, rewarding businesses.   My opinions flow from the day to day work of managing a studio, and from living off the income that a studio produces.  I can tell you what to spend your time and money on that makes sense from a BUSINESS perspective.  No speculation, No Bullshit.

Biggest Mistakes Made By Cycling Studio Startups? 

Other than choosing the wrong location (a critical topic for another day), a key mistake made by startups is NOT TAKING MARKETING SERIOUSLY…..also known as focusing on the wrong things.  You need to spend time AND money on marketing.  If you aren’t good yourself, then outsource it.

As an entrepreneur, you only have so many hours in the day and you will need to pick and choose what to focus on.  The things you need to focus on are the things that have the best chance of driving new attendees into your studio.  In my opinion that is 1) INSTRUCTORS and 2) MARKETING.  For 7 years, since being open, I wake up every day thinking about these 2 items, because they are the most important things to make our business grow.

….more important than what kind of bikes I have
….more important than lighting
….more important than flooring and fans

Yes, it is important to create a cool Spin® studio or cycling studio and a nice environment….but ultimately it is equally important to have great instructors and to have a marketing plan that drives new riders into the studio to experience them. Many studio startups make the mistake of neglecting this business reality, and that creates a real business problem…..low attendance.

Let me finish this post the way it started.

“…..From the moment you sign your lease, you should think of having two 
simultaneous construction projects underway 1) The buildout of your space and  2) The building of a marketing  plan…..”

For more information on studio marketing, check the Marketing Section of the Spynergy Blog, or feel free to contact me to discuss.  Happy Riding!

Dedicated indoor cycling and Official Spin® studios, a market on the rise (UPDATED MAY 2013)

Indoor cycling classes are one of the top group exercises in North America and around the world for good reason.  When they’re done right, these classes are tremendously effective workouts that can thrill and inspire.  Historically, they have been done in large multi-purpose fitness facilities,  the exciting news we have discovered at Spynergy Consulting, is that independent cycling studios are on the rise!  In 2011 the business model came of age.

Spynergy Consulting has just completed our first review of independent cycling studios in North America*.  How many indoor cycling studios or spin studios are there in the US and Canada?  A relatively small amount, but the number is growing.  My estimate is that there are less than 350 dedicated cycling or SPIN studios in North America, but 70 of those have been launched in the last 12 months alone, and dozens more are in the works.  Compare this to yoga where there are literally thousands of studios, and I believe there continues to be huge potential here for the committed entrepreneur.

*For the purposes of this analysis I have defined a “Dedicated Indoor Cycling Studio” as a facility where group cycling classes are the primary activity.   Some of these studios also offer other classes (yoga, zumba, pilates, etc.), but their primary activity is indoor cycling or SPINNING®.   I have not included group cycle-training programs inside retail stores or other facilities.  We also have a data on Europe and other regions of the world, that will come later.

In the past two years, Spynergy Consulting has received hundreds of inquiries from entrepreneurs exploring the dedicated cycling studio model.  We have provided business plans, websites and other consulting services to over 175 studio starters and 51 of our clients have launched studios as of this writing.  Dozens more are at some stage of launch or development.

As far as I know, here is the first published data on the independent cycling studio marketplace  (remember, this data does not include cycling and SPIN programs being conducted at multi-purpose fitness centers and health clubs).

  • While the number of cycling studios is growing, it is still on a very small base.  Spynergy Consulting estimates there are just under 350 dedicated cycling or SPIN studios in the US and Canada
  • California has the most studios, followed by New York, New Jersey and Florida (note: yes, these studios can do well in “warm weather” states).
  • Other states with 5 or more studios identified include Massachusetts,  Minnesota, Ontario and Pennsylvania, Texas
  • Our review indicates 21 states where there is no identifiable independent, dedicated indoor cycling studio.
  • Significant cities where we could not identify a single studio:   Cleveland, Sacramento, Charlotte, Columbus, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, San Jose, Memphis, Hartford.  New Orleans
  • (Note:  if you know a studio in one of these areas please let us know so we can add to our database).

Other data being collected on this studio database include type of bikes, other group-ex offerings and average studio size.   Check the Spynergy Consulting website for further updates and data.

Spin®, Spinner®, and Spinning® are registered trademarks of Maddog Athletics

Spynergy Consulting owns and operates cycling studios in Boston and Chicago and also provides consulting and business services to fitness studio businesses around the world.  Contact Bill Pryor 781-254-3677

Competing (and thriving) against the Big Guys: Soul Cycle and FlyWheel

Back in the day (2 years ago), we wrote heavily about all the cool ways you can compete with box gyms… many studio-owners are more concerned with Soul Cycle and FlyWheel.

Guess what?  For two of my independent cycling studio owner clients….a FlyWheel has opened up near them early this year….and the independent studio business has gotten BETTER since that happened.

OK, yes the “uber-studios” are popping up in a lot of places.  In a previous article I suggested this is GOOD for the independent cycling studio owner because it raises the profile of the whole amazing phenomena of indoor cycling studios.  I still believe that — though a few owners in direct competition have told me their work has become harder for sure.  But guess what, those guys are still doing great.

Hey, for most of us toiling in communities and neighborhoods all over the country (and all over the world), FlyWheel and Soul Cycle are never going to appear across the street.  But whether they do or whether they don’t… are a few ideas for securing your business.

 1)   Be a better value.   Yes, beat them on price.  They have more overhead than you do, and they have investors requiring higher margins than you need….they HAVE to charge a lot.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they make more money than you.  Independent studios can generate high margins without exorbitant rates.

2)   Stress that you’re local.  Many riders like that you’re local,  that you know the area,  and that you “get” the local vibe.  They like seeing the owner and they like knowing they are supporting a locally owned business. 

3)   Be true to your vision.  Create your own type of classes and experience without worrying about what your competition does.  Let your clients be your guide and don’t imitate the big guys out of fear.

4)   Don’t panic, and don’t be afraid to co-exist.  The reality is there is room in most markets for multiple studios.   Indoor cycling is expanding, not contracting as more and more people recognize the benefits of the workout and of the studio model.

 Quotes from studio owners where “big guys” have opened nearby.

 “….I’m in the suburbs, they’re in the city, there has been virtually no impact on my business, we’ve never been stronger…”

 ”….I honestly think they’ve helped my business.  More people are spinning because of them, and some learn with them and then go find something more affordable….”

“…..They opened 8 blocks from me in the city.  It has made me spend more time at the studio connecting with my clients.  I was freaked out at first, but now it’s been months and my business has never been stronger so I’m breathing easier…..”

“….They’re two towns over, not really direct competition, but I’ve gotten a few new clients who tried their place, loved the workout, but wanted somewhere cheaper to do it…..”

One caveat / “reality check”…….the existence of the big guys has raised-the-bar in  certain ways and you will need to have a generally higher quality environment, and especially high quality instructors.  Both can be built into your model, but do require more cost.


IHRSA 2013 — Spinning® and Indoor Cycling

Las Vegas was………well, Las Vegas.  A bizarre, but somehow mesmerizing piece of America, right?  I walked for miles but never touched fresh air for two and a half days during IHRSA.  What a country.

No question that the “buzz” around cycling studios is accelerating.  I met with no fewer than 6 studio entrepreneurs at various points during the trade show, and the bike-makers confirmed that the steady stream of inquiries continues to grow.    IHRSA is a useful event to visit.  Only a small percent of the exhibit is indoor cycling related — but it’s all the latest stuff.  Here are some quick observations.

Schwinn AC Handlebars

While there were 9 or 10 indoor cycling bikes being shown in some way at IHRSA, there are really only 5 that I have seen cycling studio entrepreneurs show significant interest in:  Schwinn, StarTrac, Keiser, Freemotion and RealRyder.

Might there be others that would be suited to a new studio?  Maybe.   But for studio owners who’s concerns are durability, reliability and broad appeal….these are the bikes that seem to come up again and again.  I believe that for a studio….it’s much more about instructors than it is about bikes — so don’t get TOO obsessed about picking your brand.  That being said, here are some quick hits from IHRSA:

  • Schwinn AC Performance bike has comfiest handlebars ever, magnetic resistance which many are now loving, a cool white look, and as of this summer sometime a new wired console that will eliminate battery and other issues in the earlier console.
  • Freemotion S119

    StarTrac finally introduces power console on the Blade Ion.  It’s  simple and elegant to read (and powered by the bike!)….and is available June-ish.  Looks good in demos, but we need to see it “out there” in the real world for a while.  Console not available on lower priced models.

  • Keiser was the original bike with consoles to show power, and are still the only bike with an objective resistance number.  They’re “bike in the rear” design is unique, but nothing new announced at IHRSA.
  • Freemotion is a stylish bike with some cool touches such as the elegant mechanisms for tightening seat and handlebar adjustments.  Magnetic resistance and power console have been key parts of their offering from the beginning.  They also have that cool new Tour de France bike (more on that later).
  • RealRyder continues to pop up in studios as a unique alternative to stationery bikes.

StarTrac Trio Pedals

Other “stuff” we found interesting.

  • StarTrac has a new “Trio” pedal that can fit on any IC bike.  The Trio accepts Look or SPD clips and also has toe clips.  Best, there is an amazingly easy mechanism for changing out the toe clip by hand.
  • Performance IQ  has systems to project power or heartrate data in your studio and they work with ANT consoles that are (or will be) on Schwinn, StarTrac, Keiser and Freemotion bikes.  Still the best and only solution for those wanting to create the FlyWheel-type experience.
  • Wexer is a company that seems to have a strong lineup of video content to rival the higher priced MyRide offerings.  This kind of on demand video content has yet to break-into the US market as it apparently has in Europe, but at this price point it may be an option to consider.

We also made sure we got a chance to speak with the suppliers who can help studios get the best sound systems, flooring, insurance, supplies, lighting, online booking and other services.  These may not be the sexiest parts of your studio, but they are important to your overall business and financial success.

For help with your studio development, contact Bill at

Spin® studio franchise or Cycling studio franchise

Don’t buy a franchise….launch your own!  Spynergy Consulting can help.  If you would like to open a Spin®  or indoor cycling studio it is a great time to do it.  The “buzz” is great for these businesses, the financial model is great and people love them.  If you are looking for information on a spin studio franchise opportunity, there is good news and bad news, depending on how you look at it.

Bad news: Soul Cycle and Flywheel are not franchises.  They are corporate entities that own and operate their own studios.   They ain’t cutting you in.

Good news:  Their business models are not that complicated and if you are a committed entrepreneur you can build a highly profitable studio of your own.  For examples look at:  Spynergy, Joy Ride, BodyCycle, Pedal Spin, Cadence, InSync, Revolution, Cycle House, Cycle Quest, Sculpt DC……and many more.

If your idea was to explore a Spin® studio or cycling studio franchise, — what you would theoretically buy would be a) the name and b) start-up and operating guidance to get you going.  For this you would pay tens of thousands of dollars, and give up a percentage of your revenue forever.

Good news:  you can create your own name, and purchase startup and operating guidance for a tiny fraction of what it would cost you to buy a cycling studio franchise (if it existed).  You can purchase that guidance from Spynergy Consulting.  We are studio owners and have assisted with the launch of over 40 independent cycling studios in 15 states and 5 countries.

Things we help with:

  • Business plan development
  • Investment and ROI analysis
  • Real estate search
  • Studio setup
  • Web systems setup
  • Instructor management
  • Equipment purchasing
  • Studio Marketing
  • Literally everything else

Spynergy Consulting uses the practical operating experience of a successful studio to develop business plans, do website development, and create effective marketing plans for cycling and fitness studios looking to grow. Contact Bill for a free brainstorm session:  781-254-3677,