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Franchise Players: How Six-Time Ukrainian Ballroom Dance Champs Became Fred Astaire Dance Studio Franchisees

Sasha and Olga Bylim came to the U.S. to teach ballroom dancing at Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Today, they are the franchisees of their own locations.
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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

Sasha and Olga Bylim have more than 35 years of experience ballroom dancing. The pair has competed in over 500 international competitions and are the six-time Ukrainian National Champions. The Bylims moved to the U.S. when they had the opportunity to become instructors at a Fred Astaire studio in New York City. Today, the couple has their own franchise in Tarrytown, N.Y., in addition to being the area developers for Fred Astaire Studios in Long Island. Here's what they've learned on their journey from dance instructors to franchisees.

Name: Sasha and Olga Bylim

Franchise owned: Fred Astaire Franchise Dance Studio, in Tarrytown, N.Y.

How long have you owned a franchise?

Since November of 1998.

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Why franchising?

The Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios, Inc. has more the 70 years of experience in developing successful dance studios. Today, it is a leader in the U.S. and international ballroom dance industry. This franchised company presents incomparable career growth opportunities for owners and employees

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

My wife and I are ballroom dance professionals with 37 years of experience in this industry, former six time Ukrainian National Champions and United States National Finalists. Before moving to the U.S. we owned a dance studio in the hometown of Poltava, Ukraine.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

We came to this country by invitation of one of the Fred Astaire studios in New York City. We worked as instructors first, loved the way the company operates and decided to take advantage of the opportunities we saw. 

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

About $140,000 to buy the franchise and secure and build out the original location

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

Company training seminars, manuals and networking

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Dealing with obtaining the construction permit was difficult. It took about four month. Additionally, the complexity and cost of marketing for small businesses in the greater New York City area was a challenge.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

In my opinion you should look for a company with the established successful business history and the one that would still have a real business opportunities in your area.

What’s next for you and your business?

We will continue building the success of the Fred Astaire Tarrytown studio, which this year celebrates its 15th anniversary. We will also work to develop the Fred Astaire dance studios in Long Island, N.Y. where we are Fred Astaire franchised dance studios area developers. We bought the license five years ago, have studios in Manhasset and Huntington Station and are working on opening the next location.

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