Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Tom Boyd, Founder, and President of Boyd Hollow Resorts. I have launched 17 businesses in my lifetime. I am presently 82 years old. I have written 3 books, one on the business life of my son who built a billion-dollar company, ran for governor of the state of Tennessee, and now is the President of the University of Tennessee.
My last book, Bokee’s Trek, was a work of joy and hope to create a better vision of how people should live. The book has lent itself to many commercial opportunities, namely building a Village called Ancient Lore that emphasizes ancient underground houses and Villagers.
This Village, which is unique in every detail, is envisioned to be a 5-star boutique resort and event center specializing in executive retreats, group celebrations, and high-end weddings. This property will be the first of many Villages built around the World based on the high demand that we have seen before opening. Each Village will be designed featuring a character from the book, Bokee’s Trek.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I was in the process of writing a book about the rise and fall of democracy in the United States. At that time, my son entered the gubernatorial race in Tennessee and I spent 18 months on the campaign trail in small towns and cities all over the state. In talking to all types of people, I found so much intolerance and hatred and lack of understanding for other people. I knew that I needed to change the direction of the book.
I decided to write a book about a person who took a journey and discovered all different types of people and saw that they could all live together in a place of peace, joy, and happiness where only good existed. That place is Ancient Lore Village. To test the theory of my book, I felt that building a Village in its image would be the best way to test this theory.
Having built 17 successful businesses, I had learned from experience that first, you must build a team. First, I found a very creative architect that shared the same vision. Then I set out to find a team of experts in the hospitality industry, with experience in service, lodging, and culinary. I found Melissa Blettner, former Senior Vice President for Great Wolf Resorts, Inc.
Melissa’s background in building Great Wolf from one location and 100 employees to a company with 15 locations and 8,000 employees made her experience a right fit. After talking with her, I realized that she bought into our company because our visions aligned. Next, I added Simon Hall Private Chef to our team. Simon’s experience as former Private Chef for Sir Richard Branson, contributing writer in the Whole 30 Cookbook and owner of a top Knoxville catering company made him the perfect addition to head up our culinary team.
Instrumental to all companies that wish to grow on a Worldwide basis, the next step was to acquire an experienced and distinguished board of directors. Our board includes Mike Ragsdale, former Mayor for Knoxville, TN; Chris Chandler, CFO of a billion-dollar corporation; Russ Watkins, owner of a project management company specializing in developments for World-class companies; Meg Retinger, with me for 40 years serving in all of my previous companies in capacities of CEO, CFO, and President; Daniel Levy, world-class creative architect.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Building a product, whether it is a widget or a Village, requires the same procedures. First, I began with the end in mind, making sure that the Vision was clear. Then we created a project timeline and budget. We secured all of the appropriate zoning, permits, and approvals. And hired a team of architects, engineers, builders, designers, and procurement to build the Village and bring the Vision to life.
The result is a one-of-a-kind Village portraying the mythical, ancient World lifestyle.
Describe the process of launching the business.
The Village, due to its uniqueness, has created substantial press and an early indication of financial success. We are enhancing our marketing through a dynamic website, social media presence, SEO, live events, and lead generation channels. We have already received over 200 inquiries for events before starting our pre-opening marketing campaign.
Boyd Hollow Resorts, the parent company of Ancient Lore Village, was organized as a Corporation, under which we sell stock to qualified individuals which will fund approximately 40% of the project. The balance of the project cost is financed by me.
The biggest lesson learned in starting this project is to expect the unexpected. We had envisioned a much larger Village at the start. In late 2019, we felt that a more unique, smaller Village could be built in other locations easier. This decision was not clairvoyant, but as we all know, COVID-19 happened in 2020 and the size of our Village is perfect for the current times. Since we were in the building stage, we were able to build the Village around “COVID-19 safety”.
Although the Village opens in January of 2021, this type of business launches 6 months before opening since the majority of our events is usually reserved 1 to 2 years in advance. Due to the early, overwhelming response to bookings, we will adapt to specific markets as we move forward.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As we are a pre-opening company, all we can provide is projections. Our projected first-year income is $6 million. Over the next 5 years, our goal is to build 7 more Villages with a combined projected income of $76 million.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the major lessons I have learned is “build something unique and creative and that is what people are looking for today”. In a recent article in knox.biz, my son, Randy Boyd, President of the University of Tennessee was quoted as saying “Don’t be afraid to fail” I hope I taught him that and that all entrepreneurs understand that if they don’t try, they can never win! Failure is always a possibility, but a positive mindset can be the difference between success and failure.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As a startup company, it is important to choose tools that will make tasks easier so we can focus on other important details. We use WordPress for our website, TripleSeat for our CRM, proposals, contracts, and payments; WebRezPro as our PMS, Quickbooks Cloud for our accounting software, Mailchimp for email campaigns and newsletters.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book in my life is The Wheels of Commerce by Fernand Braudel. This book goes back to the basic reasons why people do certain things and how they react which are instrumental in business and negotiations.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Start young, be willing to gamble everything, and if you are not willing to work at least 90 hours per week, don’t be an entrepreneur.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for dedicated, good people who share our vision.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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