tCo-owner, Stars and Stripes Activity Center, Clarkston
tEmployees: 25 Revenue: $2 million Education: NA
tBy offering activities as diverse as preschool, summer camp programs, and piano lessons, Brian Foster hopes the Stars and Stripes Activity Center will cause young people to experience a digital disconnect. “The biggest thing is to get kids unplugged from iPads and cell phones, and get them involved with activities that stimulate their brains and keep them moving,” says Foster, a former Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy who opened the facility with his wife and a business partner in 2002 to teach gymnastics. Foster says by offering programs that kids love, hiring qualified staff, and providing an appealing environment for parents, the Stars and Stripes brand competes well in the recreation space. Unable to secure an initial bank loan of $90,000, Foster borrowed money from his family and paid it back within a year. Stars and Stripes operates within 26,000 square feet of space — up from 5,000 square feet — and today has several thousand students in its year-round programs, which include competitive cheerleading and karate. “We have students who start with us as toddlers and might be in and out of programs all the way through high school,” Foster says. As for expansion, he will forgo the franchise route in his plans to expand to 100 locations. Instead, he plans to seek out strategic partners. “Our system is a win for the kids, for parents, and for entrepreneurs,” he says.