Dreaming of the Future: Avalon School of Music

John Kolbrich awoke one morning after experiencing an incredibly vivid dream. “I saw a vision of a music school that I was instructed to build immediately. Not wanting to forget what I had seen, I jumped out of bed and began sketching it on a piece of paper.”

Inspired by his vision, John decided to quit his day job and use what he had left of his 401(k) to start the music school. “I’ve always loved music. My passion is performing. I play accordion, trumpet, and sing with my band, Europa, touring the country each year.”

A few months later, John opened his first music school in his mother-in-law’s suite above his garage teaching students how to play a variety of musical instruments. “Within two months, I had about 50 students. They started asking about guitar lessons, so I quickly recruited a guitar teacher.”

Shortly after adding guitar, he built two additional rooms in his garage where students could learn how to play drums, saxophone and trumpet. “We were now up to six rooms, and within a year and a half I had about 200 students coming to my home Monday through Thursday.”

With more students than he had room to house, John began looking at commercial properties for a larger space. After a longer than expected wait due to hurricanes, he finally got a building in May 2004.

His new school quickly reached 400 students, causing John to open a second location closer to downtown Orlando—and it wasn’t long before he opened a third. “I never thought I would open a business with three locations, over 800 students and upwards of 60 staff members. We were growing so fast, and I never even had to advertise for music teachers. I guess that’s why my dream was so vivid. Had I chosen to put it off, things may have gone very differently.”

John brought his son on board as a teacher at age 15 and, eventually made him his partner. “My son, Phillip, took music lessons his entire life and started teaching part time during high school. Now he has his MBA and oversees all three locations.”

It wasn’t long before they both realized that using Excel spreadsheets and different programs for taking student dues, tracking teachers’ pay and managing class schedules was no longer feasible. “I started looking into software, but couldn’t find anything that did it all in one place. And then a friend, who owned a yoga studio nearby, told me about MINDBODY. Skeptical, I eventually made the call.”

Having spent months researching other software options, John was prepared with a line of questioning, and was sure he’d find holes in the software. “I fired a myriad of questions at the MINDBODY representative who answered and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Everything I needed, MINDBODY offered.” John signed up and purchased a month of premium support to get him started.

Six months later John liked the software so much he became a Business Partner and started actively sharing his success with other music businesses. “I had one guy tell me, ‘Thank God you called because you just saved my marriage.’ I never try to sell people. I’m not here to sell. I just show them everything MINDBODY does for us, and most people realize the value and say, ‘Yeah, I want that, too!’”

John and Phillip’s business, Avalon School of Music, currently has three locations and in Orlando, Florida, but is expected to continue expanding in the very near future.