Shelly Sun shares her entrepreneurial journey during third session of “Vol Court”

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

In the third session of the Spring Semester edition of “Vol Court Speaker Series and Pitch Competition,” University of Tennessee, Knoxville alum Shelly Sun highlighted her journey from corporate accountant to Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BrightStar Care.

The main focus of Sun’s talk was her decision to franchise BrightStar, which now has around 350 locations serving about 20,000 families a month across the nation. “I did know I had aspirations to grow something larger,” Sun said of turning to the franchise model.

Part of making a franchise successful, she said, is to make sure you document everything that went into the first business so it can be duplicated for other locations. “I really had to move to a second location to see if I really remembered everything that I had done to make the first one successful, and kind of fill in all the documentation of processes and procedures and then replicate that to a third (location).”

Sun also spoke with the two dozen student-attendees about the different parts of her business she decided to invest in, such as a technology platform for her providers to use, branding, and better pay for her staff to ensure that BrightStar is providing higher quality care. There was also some discussion on how Sun and BrightStar were impacted during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. While she had to make some cuts to both staff and salary, Sun said she was open with her company from the beginning on what the hits would mean. Luckily, Sun was able to restore most of the staff’s salary to pre-pandemic levels after 12 weeks.

The candid conversation with Sun led to many quick pointers about how she runs her business. During a short question-and-answer session, Sun was also able to get to specific items from students like how to find a mentor.

The fourth session of “Vol Court” will be next Tuesday and is focused on “Preparing the Pitch.,” a discussion that will be led by Lia Winter.

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