Every year, promising brands move from idea to concept to successful franchise launch. Gazing into the crystal ball to determine which of those brands will make the biggest splash can be tricky business.
So, 1851 Franchise did the homework to determine which startup brands have best positioned themselves for quick success, in both established industries and promising, but yet unproven concepts. Below, in no particular order, are 25 startup franchise brands to watch, along with some thoughts on what makes them hot picks this year.
This home building franchise has grown from a single location to more than 35 franchises in its native Canada in less than three years by knocking down the wall separating customers and contractors. Now, this unique industry concept is poised for rapid expansion in the U.S., with plans to bring its residential and commercial construction services to at least 10 states in the next year.
With GYMGUYZ, the gym comes to you. Founder Josh York began cutting out excuses for those with inconsistent gym routines in 2008 and franchised the concept in 2013. Amidst a growing focus on healthy living, the rapidly expanding brand has a goal of hitting 200 franchises within the next five years.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles
Larry “Lo-Lo” White began cooking up his signature heart and soul food in Arizona in 2002, and now has four locations across the Phoenix area. The brand’s flagship Phoenix restaurant grossed more than $3.6 million in 2013. Lo-Lo’s now has designs on rapid expansion across the rest of the country, with particular focus on California, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Brian Burchill and Robert Maynard’s love of all things breakfast led to the creation of the first Famous Toastery in Huntersville, North Carolina in 2005. As demand grew, so did the brand’s locations; franchising began in 2013. The brand currently operates six restaurants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, and plans to expand to 35 locations by the end of 2016.
Kennedy's All-American Barber Club
Kennedy’s proven concept is designed to transport customers back to a time when barbershops provided men a place to relax and enjoy a conversation. Services include complimentary beverages, haircut, scalp massage and straight-razor edging. Members can also keep standing appointments. The brand currently has 12 locations in Connecticut, Florida and New Jersey and has plans for national expansion in the coming year.
Culinary excellence in a fast casual setting—that was the cornerstone when Slim Chickens opened its first location in 2003 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, offering its signature chicken tenders and homemade dipping sauces. Today, the brand has 17 locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and has designs on a nationwide footprint of 600 restaurants over the next decade.
Great American Deals
This growing brand is taking the Groupon concept to the local market. Franchisees build an email list in their local market, and then sell the deals to local merchants. When a consumer buys a deal they have the opportunity to have some of the money donated back to local schools and community organizations. Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajack is an original investor in the concept, and serves as a spokesman for the brand, which is now in 13 California communities, which sights set on expansion nationwide.
Palm Beach Vapors
Palm Beach Vapors is capitalizing on America’s growing interest in kicking the smoking habit. The nation’s first e-cigarette and vapor retailer, Palm Beach Vapors has seen rapid growth since its founding in 2013. The Tulsa based brand now has franchises in Alabama, Oklahoma, California, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Mississippi and Missouri, and has designs on a nationwide expansion as the vaping industry continues expanding.
You know that great burn you get when you really push yourself on the bike at the gym? Full Psycle thinks the rest of your body should be pushed like that, too. Billed as “full body indoor cycling,” Full Psycle’s proprietary workout concept incorporates standard indoor cycling routines with upper body strength training via hand weights and Pilates-based core exercises. The brand currently has studio locations in Chicago and Orange County, California.
Lobster is king in New York, and Lobster Joint has been proving it with strong sales of their signature New England Comfort Food at their flagship location in Brooklyn. The brand has also added a mobile food truck and a second location in Rockaway Beach, and is now focused on franchising along the East Coast and beyond.
Veteran food service owner Anthony Fellows is turning gelato, sorbet and frozen yogurt on its side—or rather, on its end. His new brand, HipPOPs, puts the popular all natural, gluten-free, kosher frozen desserts on a stick, making them portable and easier to eat. The South Florida based brand currently offers the treats from a mobile food truck and through “POPup” gelato bars, and is now offering franchise opportunities in markets across the country.
This award-winning New York staple has been offering quality Italian style pizzas in Staten Island since 1937, and now has locations along the Jersey Shore and in Aberdeen, New Jersey. Franchising opportunities will follow this year.
When cousins Mark Abbett and James Schregardus decided to fulfill their business dreams by investing in the drams of other business owners, iStuido Salons was born. With nine locations in Florida and Indiana, this startup franchise brand offers ambitious salon and wellness professionals a state-of-the-art salon environment to call their own. iStudio then works with stylists to build their book through a variety of marketing options aimed at developing new clients and walk-in traffic.
Kids In Sports
From 12 months to 12 years old, Kids In Sports’ mission is to teach children the fundamentals of sports in an organized, safe, fun friendly and supportive environment. The brand offers multi-sport classes, rather than just one specific sport, and its day, afternoon and summer camp programs were all developed by educators, and are focused on a low student to coach ratio. The brand currently has locations on the Upper East Side of New York City and in Greenwich, Connecticut, with locations on the Upper West Side and Massachusetts slated to open next year.
Ralph's Italian Restaurant
The concept is far from a startup, but franchising it is. Founded in Philadelphia in 1900 by Francesco and Catherine Dispigno, Ralph’s is the oldest Italian restaurant in America. The brand has two award winning Philadelphia locations, and now has designs on bringing the same family recipe for success that’s brought in customers for more than a century to the masses nationwide.
“Fitness Over 50” is the mantra for this Minneapolis-area based brand, and the baby boomer generation is on board at a breakneck pace. Welcyon’s seven locations in five states feature equipment and circuit training is designed for those over 50 years old and the centers also offer a social atmosphere where members can gather for a cup of coffee and conversation.
French Fry Heaven
The potato is the headliner at this fry concept, which prides itself on serving customers “the best fries on Earth.” Offerings include everything from sweet potato fries to tater tots at the brand’s 18 locations in 11 states.
Burritobox is trying to reinvent the way the world looks at fast food—from inside the box. Burritos are machine made with fresh ingredients in less than 60 seconds inside Burritobox’s kiosk. While vending has long been a popular startup business model, franchising it is a newer concept, and Burritobox is betting six locations so far that it will pay off.
Moolah U is on a mission to provide the next generation with a fundamental understanding of how money works, inspiring them to establish habits that build a life of financial stability and independence. Through programs at the program’s two Austin, Texas-based locations, kids develop skills in leadership, teamwork, and integrity, helping them to become responsible people who can accomplish whatever they choose.
Bottle & Bottega
Founded in 2009 in Chicago, Bottle & Bottega was one of the first to combine wine and art. One part artistic adventure and one part cocktail party, Bottle & Bottega pairs well for get-togethers with friends, creative corporate retreats or other special events. The concept expanded into franchising in 2011, and now has 12 locations in eight states.
This musical education brand is built on the concept that children learn best when they’re having fun. ABC Do-Re-Me!’s curriculum includes everything from lullabies to folk rock and everything in-between. The New York based brand also offers flexible scheduling options for busy parents, with no contract required, and now boasts 10 different locations.
The following brands are scheduled to launch startup franchising operations by the end of 2015:
The Grooming Lounge
With locations in Washington, D.C. and McLean, Virginia, The Grooming Lounge was conceptualized in 1999 by founder Michael Gilman. After years of serving as "un-official grooming guru" to his friends, the brand now includes stores, a web site, a catalog and custom-blended grooming products.
Fuel Recharge Yourself
Fuel Recharge Yourself was the first café concept in the country to offer a full menu with all items under 500 calories. From paninis and wraps to salads and rice bowls, each dish uses only fresh, local ingredients, often grown in Fuel’s own Philadelphia greenhouse. The brand currently has three locations in Pennsylvania.
Rebranded from Pita Grill—the name it’s been known by in Manhattan and North Jersey since 1993—Pure Pita is recreating a franchise image, based on the same menu that made it famous in the Big Apple two decades ago. The brand now has locations in Hoboken, Morristown and Montclair, with three more New Jersey locations planned by the end of 2015.