Seeking International Inspiration
As a franchise reporter, many interesting story ideas cross my desk in a given day. A Croatian burger-and-fries concept claiming to have created healthier fries with plans to expand throughout the world is certainly a recent notable.
American franchise brands heading overseas is nothing new. In fact, I’m starting to feel I can guess the responses when asking directors of franchise development, “What countries are you planning to expand to?” Hearing that a brand started in beautiful Croatia has plans to bring its fast-growing chain of restaurants to the United States is certainly outside the norm—and very cool.
Jen Kushell, CEO of Young & Successful Media, introduced me to Surf’n’Fries CEO Andrija Colak. Those two met through the IFA’s NextGen program, and I was able to chat with Colak while working the show.
Although he wasn’t one of the five NextGen award winners (check out our story in the September issue of FT!), Colak was humble, curious, gracious and, once I realized the full scope of his business, this 33-year-old’s story planted a seed in my mind. Could his story be the first evidence of a new counter-trend phenomenon in franchising?
Surf’n’Fries currently has 40+ inline and kiosk restaurants in 11 countries, mostly in Europe but extending as far as Hanoi. Its healthier, Belgian-style fries served in a paper cone, and other menu items including burgers and chicken, this concept seems as American as it gets even though it’s not.
In meeting people in the franchise world, I often share my interest in telling the stories of millennials and entrepreneurs with a modern, global outlook to prove this industry isn’t just the domain of old white guys. Colak’s international success is the perfect distillation of that interest.
Hearing about franchising’s life-changing potential in Africa, its ubiquity in Australia, and its culture-bridging impact in the Middle East, I couldn’t be more excited to tell the story of this industry. It’s many different stories and, so far, no two are the same.
Get in touch if you know of any stories like Colak’s. I’m also assembling sources for a potential story on immigrants in franchising, and I’m already blown away by some of the stories I’ve been told.
It’s a big and fascinating world, and from my perch, franchising touches almost all of it.