Why I Created Play Cafe Academy | Open a Profitable Indoor Playground

If you've been keeping up with my weekly blogs or watching me over on YouTube for a while, you know that I tend to talk about opening a profitable indoor playground-- my recommendations based on what we did right and what we did wrong with Climbing Vines Cafe & Play.

Today, I really wanna take a step back and share a little bit about why I create this content and began Play Cafe Academy. (My paid program where I teach people step-by-step how to open an indoor playground and also hold their hand through the opening process!)

I will never forget four years ago when I was researching this business model. When my newborn was only 11 weeks old, I went back to work full-time and I just remember sitting at my desk thinking, "This is just not me. This is not what I want. I want to own my business."

But I had no idea where to start.

I didn't even really know that an indoor playground was a potential business that I could find myself in until my husband was traveling for work and he started noticing some other cities with “cool little mini indoor playgrounds or play cafés” and agreed to the opportunity. I thought, "Wow. This looks amazing. All these places are so busy! They must make so much money. I can even bring my baby to work!" If you watch my video about the six misconceptions people have about owning a play cafe, you’ll understand why I thought that way and why I was so off base. But it took me some time to realize why that wasn’t necessarily true.

This leads me to the real reason I created Play Cafe Academy

When I was researching this business model, there was not a lot of information out there. Current owners really keep all of their business secrets close to their vest, and I don't blame them! It's hard once you've worked for years and years to establish a profitable business to want to give those secrets away for nothing. Even if you charge a consulting fee, you’re still kind of giving away the secrets that you’ve worked so hard for and it's very easy as a business owner to get a little smug and protective of your own research and development.

When it came time to open my own business, I wound up making a ton of mistakes (and I mean a TON of mistakes) because I simply didn’t know any better. So when I started getting emails and calls to consult for other potential play cafe owners, I couldn’t keep all this information to myself. While it’s easy for me to feel like an imposter or that there are other business owners more qualified than me to share this information, I know that there’s a 4-years-ago me sitting at work somewhere waiting for the next idea to jump out at them.

And selfishly, I do not want to see one more business close because someone who’s walked before them didn’t share any information! So why not share it myself?

In the past, people have come to me in one of two scenarios. Number one, when it's too late, their doors are closing, and they are making a last-ditch effort before they have to close. Again, this is usually because of that lack of information that I mentioned. There's not a lot of tools out there about how to run this type of business successfully. And I see a lot of myself in these people! There were a couple of times where we came very, very close to closing, but I'm so lucky that I have a great support system and that we had a financial safety net that really helped us. But I know that not everybody has that.

The second scenario that people come to me in is when they are just getting started and they're still bright-eyed about the prospect of this indoor playground business. They typically feel very confident, but they just wanna hear from an expert. This is my favorite scenario to help people in because there's room for them to grow, but unfortunately, there's just so much information that I wanna give these people and simply can’t. I wanna walk them through the hard stuff, let them know exactly how we made the mistakes, show exactly how much we spent on all of our equipment, and give out exactly how much money we make.

But my time is valuable. I have two little kids and also run another business... I don't have 12 hours to spend hand-holding each perspective owner through the process. (And let me tell you, it will take at least 12 to 24 hours of paid one-on-one consulting to even break the surface of what you need, including documentation.) At the average rate of $100 to $200 an hour to actually consult, imagine what you could end up paying for just a hint of education!

Melanie and Lexi- Private Consulting Clients and Students inside Play Cafe Academy

So, after I did a couple of consults, I noticed that everybody had the same questions. They were struggling in the same areas and I was giving them the same answers. So, I took a step back and I said, "I do not wanna see another one of these businesses open and close, but I don't have the time to walk each person through the process and they don't have the money to pay me $2,400 to walk them through the process..." What I did instead, was create Play Cafe Academy, hosts about 12 hours of information at a fraction of the price.

PCA is broken down into eight modules where I cover everything from writing your business plan to choosing a location and signing the right lease to organizing your streams of revenue and much, much more. Everything you need to know from idea to opening day? I completely cover it in the program. Students can go through these modules at their own pace, and I don't have to take the time to walk my students through the program.

But because I’ve streamlined this process and don't have to walk people through these modules anymore, I'm now able to open up a closed, members-only, student-only support group! So if the program leaves someone with a question or if they need to dig a little bit deeper, I'm now able to open this support group and answer these questions with personal stories or anecdotes.

Another last thing that I love about Play Cafe Academy is that-- and this isn't meant to scare you, it's just the truth-- only about 1 in 10 of the people that actually purchase the program will open an indoor playground. However, they still believe, wholeheartedly, that the program is still worth every penny because it opened their eyes to the different facets of running a business. The other good news about the program is that even if it saves you from making a mistake, it is well worth the investment because these people are now able to take the information that they learned in the program and do something different, because if you're making this investment in yourself, in your family, and in your family's future, you're an entrepreneur even if you don't have a business yet.

If you're serious about opening an indoor playground and doing it successfully, learn from somebody who has walked this path ahead of you and who's made all of the mistakes. No, I may not be the number one business coach in the world, but I have walked this path. I know exactly what it takes to make this business successful and I am passionate and ready to help you do this for yourself.

If you’re ready to take your entrepreneurial spirit to the next level or have been considering opening your own indoor playground business, I hope to see you inside Play Cafe Academy. If you want more information, but are not quite ready, head over and binge-watch my YouTube channel! I have so much (absolutely FREE) information for you.

Prefer to read? Download our eBook all about opening a profitable play café.


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Can I Send You My NEW Free 2023 "What's Working In The Indoor Play Industry" Guide?

I asked 7 Play Cafe Academy and Play Maker Society members what is working RIGHT NOW in their businesses to attract customers and grow sales. I want to send you their answers in my FREE newly updated 2023 "What's Working" Guide!