Bellingham Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Silly group shot of some bham BJJ's students and teachers

Betsy O'Donovan, Jeff Shaw, and David Porter never thought their co-owned martial arts gym would be so successful, so quickly. The trio opened their Jiu-Jitsu-only gym in May of 2019 and have been flooded with signups ever since. In addition to being co-owners, Shaw and Porter are both Jiu-Jitsu black belts and instructors at Bellingham BJJ. In case you didn't know, Jiu-Jitsu is self-defense focused martial art with particular emphasis on ground-fighting. 

At Bellingham BJJ they believe that Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone and are passionate about introducing the sport to as many people in the community as possible. This passion has certainly helped in their success but their commitment to high quality operations and attention to detail by getting professional help from the start has also paid off.

O'Donovan ran a nonprofit on the East Coast and had a solid foundation and knowledge of  running a business, but she wanted to make sure they were using best practices. Once they were pretty far along in the planning process, the three co-owners met with Sherri Daymon, one of the WWU SBDC Certified Business Advisors, to get support with their next steps. 

As they entered into a three-person partnership, Daymon advised them on how to avoid common pitfalls and how to set up their operations with clear lines of responsibility and communication. Additionally, "Sherri helped us come up with a conservative start and attainable  growth plan that was really helpful for us to marry our goals in the short term and our visions in the long term, " explains Shaw.

In the first six months after their successful grand opening, Bellingham BJJ managed to more than triple Sherri's most optimistic financial projections. "We've already grown beyond our wildest dreams," says Shaw. In addition to advising all business owners to visit the SBDC for help in growing their business, the Bellingham BJJ crew suggest not only planning for "when things go wrong" but to also be prepared for "when things go right".

#BellinghamBJJ launched with help from SBDC, and SBDC's support for local #smallbusiness has helped us weather the coronavirus storm, too! Our dream was a #martialarts academy that fit into the #downtownbellingham business core, and we got there! But then, there was this whole global pandemic, and suddenly grappling in large groups didn't make sense any more. 

Jeff Shaw

Co-Owner, Bellingham BJJ