Swing Patrol’s Scott Cupit on Success


With the success of Swing Patrol and the launch of SwingTrain, Scott Cupit chatted to about building a strong brand against all odds and standing up for what you believe in.  In 2009, Cupit landed in London from sunny Melbourne with no contacts and no idea just how difficult it would be to start up in a new city. Having just read Richard Branson’s book, and feeling inspired to try something bigger and bolder, Scott recognised the need to stand out.  “By chance, we got a lot of media attention in our first year. From there, we worked really hard and grew and grew. We found a formula people liked, and made sure that learning to swing dance becomes a really immersive experience.”

Cupit also attributes his success to the larger swing dance community of impassioned dancers. “We worked on the community side of things. Like me, a lot of Londoners are foreigners. We encourage dancers to connect with each other, from saying hello to two people you don’t know, to rotating partners. The fact that we broke a world record shows the size of the community we’ve built. It was really tough in the early months. But suddenly out of the blue got a call from Dragons Den, and that was a turning point.”

Duncan Bannatyne wanted swing dancing to be in health clubs and Piers Linney was looking for Cupit to mould his business as “the Zumba of Swing”. Kelly Hoppen saw potential in Cupit’s brain child. Ultimately, Cupit chose the guidance of investor and former Strictly Come Dancing star Deborah Meaden, Swing Patrol, because, as he explains, “she got it.”   Meaden provided £65,000 for 20 per cent equity, a decision he believes helped propel Swing Patrol even further than he expected.

“There’s a fine line between running a business and protecting an art form, and this was confusing to some of the Dragons,” explains Swing Patrol’s Scott Cupit. “But Deborah Meaden was nodding, and that’s why I chose her.”

Dragon’s Den also sowed the seeds for SwingTrain, a fitness focussed arm of the dance form. “Making Swing Patrol a fitness thing is not easy. It’s a dance form, and will remain that way. But that did lay the groundwork for a cardio fitness programme inspired by swing dancing, SwingTrain. We are very clear that there’s a huge difference between what we do as Swing Patrol, and SwingTrain, from having a completely different bunch of trainers, who are fitness qualified and passionate about fitness, to the type of music, mostly electro swing. It’s the same spirit and buzz, but completely different goals.”

Setting up SwingTrain took a lot of planning.  Trainers from all over the world have been reaching out to Cupit, seeing how they can get involved and bring SwingTrain to their geographies.  “We took all our knowledge and expertise, as well as all the great music we know that’s great for a workout. SwingTrain is at 30 venues already, and it’s so scalable.  It’s definitely got the potential to be a business-in-a-box, where trainers anywhere can have their own business and pay us a licence fee.”

But it wasn’t easy in the least, starting out. Cupit’s words of wisdom? Work hard.  No stranger to rejection, the Dragon’s Den success emphasises the importance of hearing ‘no’. “You will get rejections, but it will get better. You’ve got do your time and earn your stripes. Keep plugging away!”

Read the full article here.

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