Zen Mele was set to leave for the Air Force when his mum passed away.
Given just 12 weeks to live, Bronwyn battled for two-and-a-half years, and it was her wish to write a book, should by some miracle she survive.
That book was going to educate young people about their health. She wanted to help right the wrongs of her own life, wrongs that ultimately led to her passing – she didn’t want anyone else to suffer the way she had.
“Within a couple of weeks [of her death] I pulled my Air Force application and decided to turn things around,” Zen said on reflection. “I repeated Grade 11, became school captain in Grade 12, and I started a health and fitness program – I just had to do something like a community initiative.”
It was in 2013 that Zen founded Bodi Allegiance, a business that focussed on developing a comfortable, safe, and fun environment for all ages to achieve their fitness goals. In his own words ‘he kind of just made stuff happen’.
Three years later, Zen started a training centre in a very small space at the back of a cafe in Coolangatta.
“In 2016 we started a business called SFX in a tiny, little studio, it was only 15 metres squared, but it was pretty cool. We laid fake grass, painted the walls and had a little sign-up area … you’ve got to start somewhere right?”
While he says it’s pretty scary to think back, he knows it was a cool first gym with a great backstory.
“I had liquid courage back then,” he told us from the home base he shares with his life/business partner in Burleigh Heads.
Staying the course and continuing to be spurred on by his mum’s desire to educate and instil a sense of importance about maintaining good health, Zen rebranded SFX to Bodi HQ last December.
Not long after, one of his friends started sharing posts on social media about a digital currency called Qoin.
“A couple of times we were like ‘Oh, what’s this?’, and I was like, no I need to make money … and then they finally told us that they had seen results with this Qoin, so I was like, ‘I’ll have a look’,” said Zen.
An ‘avid risk-taker’ by his own measure and a person who loves stepping outside of his boundaries, Zen opted into the unknown world of digital currencies.
“I just dived in, it was three or four days before Christmas. We have another product based business which is activewear, so it ties into the gym,” he said.
“We started with this and we thought ‘we’ll see how it goes’ on the Qoin Collective Facebook page.
“My gosh, it was mental,” he added excitedly. “It was probably the most fun I have had in business. In the space of 24 hours, we did more sales than we ever had.”
While by his own admission it has been ‘one heck of a journey learning how to use it’, Zen said Qoin had provided an ‘incredible opportunity for his business’ and himself personally.
“I’ve bought and sold cars, we went on holidays to Melbourne (pre-lockdown), we’ve been to Yamba; and for like three weeks there we didn’t cook, the food on Qoin was great.
“Workwise on January 1 we released our Burleigh gym to the Qoin community, and people have come through, it’s been so valuable to have those feet on the floor.
We rebuilt our gym on 50 per cent Qoin and 50 per cent cash,” Zen said triumphantly, adding that the floors, the sauna and some of the equipment was all purchased that way, and he had convinced the woman who rents space in the building to also join Qoin.
As for the future, now that the Gold Coast entrepreneur has the support of the general community and the 38,500-strong Qoin merchant ecosystem, he believes there’s nothing he can’t do.
“We would love to expand across Australia with Bodi HQ, our five-year plan would be to be impacting anywhere between 500 to 1000 people a day, whether that’s across multiple locations or online.
However we do that – activewear online or if we have the opportunity to open up more studios, ideally we’d love to be impacting up to 5,000 people a day.”
When it comes to sharing his Qoin experience with others, Zen is adamant it’s something every small business should consider.
“There’s no umming and ahhing about it. For me, there is no risk, just dive straight in and give it a go,” he said.
“Aside from the sales we got and the influence it has had on getting people through the centre, Qoin gave us an opportunity to expand in a way we didn’t think was possible, it opened our mind and now we can impact people everyday.”
For more on Bodi HQ search bodiheadquarters on Facebook.