When Michael Browning Jr. opened his first Urban Air Adventure Park in 2011, he envisioned a business that would become the “Six flags of indoor spaces.” Since then, Browning’s entrepreneurial efforts have resulted in a full-blown kid-friendly business empire.
Urban Air Adventure Park has become the largest indoor adventure park operator in the world, with 330 locations either open or in development.
The park offers more than 20 different attractions, including trampolining, dodgeball, trapeze, bumper cars, go-karts, indoor skydiving, laser tag, mini-golf, climbing walls, rope courses, and more.
“I spent my entire life and risked everything to build that brand and then put it into a position where it knows what it needs to do,” he said.
In 2018, Browning left Urban Air Adventure Park to the leadership of Jay Thomas, a former Six Flag executive, to follow what he describes as a “higher calling.”
In 2021, Browning launched Unleashed Brands to serve as a parent company to Urban Air Adventure Park and a portfolio of other brands. The Bedford-based company is focused on building brands that “unleash the potential” in children from early childhood to college, Browning told The Dallas Morning News.
Any company under the Unleashed Brands umbrella must fulfill three categories: learn, play, and grow. So far, Browning has found six brands that fit the criteria, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The first company was Snapology, a STEM-focused company that provides programs and workshops to engage children 1-14 in hands-on, interactive activities.
The second company to join was The Little Gym International, a fitness business geared toward kids aged four months to 12. The Little Gym International’s revenue has grown 55% in the last year, according to the company.
The company also bought Premier Martial Arts, a martial arts franchise with programs for kids and adults currently at over 200 locations.
Class 101, a college readiness program that helps high school students navigate the difficult college search process, was purchased in April by Unleashed Brands.
Browning also added XP League, a youth esports organization that lets players ages 7 to 15 compete in a nine-week season in the U.S. and Canada.
Unleashed Brands currently has over 1,300 franchises under its umbrella, serving over 25 million children and generating $820 million in systemwide sales in the process last year, according to The Dallas Morning News.
While running so many different franchise businesses, part of Browning’s role as CEO is teaching entrepreneurs how to run their operations, something he doesn’t take lightly.
“It’s humbling, and it’s such an honor because the people get to do anything they want to do,” Browning said. “But they’ve chosen to come here.”
He also offers his expertise to up-and-coming entrepreneurs through Texas Christian Universities (TCU) entrepreneurship program.
“I’m always telling kids that there are ways to make money and all of those things, but you need to know what your calling is,” Browning said.
Browning says Unleashed Brands will add a philanthropic foundation to support at-risk kids and bring more kid-friendly brands to Unleashed next year.
Now that the model has been built, the opportunities appear endless. Browning said new brands would focus on music, swimming, and traditional sports.
He says he bases some of his business decisions on listening to his kid’s conversations about their varying interests. His brands are there to help kids identify their passions.
“No matter who they are, what their calling is, we should be able to drop them into our ecosystem and help them learn, play and grow and help them navigate to win,” Browning said.