Bouncing Back from Failure
PROVO, Utah – Feb 07, 2022 – When the Great Recession in 2008 caused his startup real estate company to fold, Case Lawrence thought he knew what failure was. Years later, however, the COVID-19 pandemic put his trampoline park company on the verge of another business failure. As a mentor with the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Lawrence uses his experiences with failure to help young entrepreneurs be better equipped for the road ahead.
Lawrence’s path to entrepreneurship started in law school. After graduating from BYU in 1997 with a degree in American studies, he attended Duke University, where he specialized in business law, which began to pique his interest in entrepreneurship. Upon finishing law school in 2000, Lawrence worked for a law firm in Silicon Valley. “The early 2000s were an exciting time to be in Northern California, because the region had a lot of entrepreneurial frenzy, innovation, and energy, which I was thrilled to watch,” he says.
“The desire to create something along with a lot of entrepreneurial excitement in society pulled me away from being a lawyer,” Lawrence continues. “I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Looking back, I realize that entrepreneurship is much closer to who I am and fits my strengths and affinities.”
Lawrence’s first startup was CargoBay, a real estate company he started in 2004 that managed office space and catered to small businesses. He ran the company for six years before the Great Recession affected the real estate industry, causing CargoBay to fold. “The recession was a rough couple of years. I was caught right in the middle of a few big projects, and I almost went bankrupt. I was able to survive but needed something else to do for a living,” Lawrence says. He began preparing to be reinstated as a lawyer so he could support his family.
While planning his return to law, Lawrence caught the spirit of entrepreneurship again. During a trip to San Francisco with his family, a friend suggested Lawrence visit a local trampoline park. Lawrence loved how the experience combined entertainment, sports, and exercise. “I left that trip with the intent to create a trampoline park,” he recalls. “I wasn’t going to begin a big company. My goal was to start a small facility to provide enough money for my family while I found a job practicing law.”
Lawrence was thrilled to discover that people in Provo, where he had moved after CargoBay folded, enjoyed trampoline parks as much as he did. His first location, which opened in Provo in 2011, was so successful that he opened more locations, eventually transitioning to running the company, CircusTrix, full-time. Currently, the business has more than 320 facilities around the world.
Despite his success, Lawrence still had to deal with the ever-present potential of failure caused by outside forces. Health and safety precautions from the COVID-19 pandemic closed his parks for seven months in 2020. Lawrence was not sure that his company would ever open again, especially considering the financial losses CircusTrix incurred during that time. “Every entrepreneurial venture that survives has as many experiences with failure or near-death experiences as success, people just like to talk about success a lot more,” he says. Luckily for Lawrence, CircusTrix was able to recover after reopening its doors.
Lawrence enjoys sharing the lessons he has learned, both with success and failure, with new entrepreneurs. His mentorship is through the Rollins Center Entrepreneur Founders, a group of entrepreneurs who donate resources and time to the center. Lawrence strives to help BYU students with their startups by helping them understand, prepare for, and overcome failure. “Failures are part of the culture of entrepreneurship and are inevitably part of the experience,” he says. “Talking about failing and near-death experiences and celebrating those is important as a mentor.
“Every entrepreneurial venture is different,” Lawrence continues. "My experience allows me to know how to guide students when they are making decisions. Being a mentor is a wonderful experience and I’m so impressed with the culture, energy, and caliber of students I interact with.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Mike Miller