Settling into Franchising
Last week’s International Franchise Expo marked the six-month mark for my career in the franchise world. It feels good knowing my new-guy smell is starting to wear off, and I now have relationships with excellent people in all corners of the franchise world. To quote Jim Morrison, “This is the best part of the trip.”
At this stage, having been the new guy once or twice in my past, life begins getting a little easier. I don’t know everything about franchising—that’s for sure—but I am developing an impressive bench of experts I can call upon when needed. On the personal side, it’s also nice to walk into a huge, crowded room like the Javits Center and know there are handfuls of people I’m anxious to catch up with or meet for the first time in person.
With a few industry shows under my belt now, I’m also establishing a better foundation to evaluate the scads of new companies and concepts on display. Let me make my first bold industry prediction: we have officially reached peak e-cig, with at least three booths slinging electronic cigarettes in New York. I see this category smoldering out sooner rather than later due to that whole “too good to be true” thing.
Evaluating the people behind said concepts, I enjoy the difference between people who proudly say they fell into their current business by happenstance versus the life-long, super-driven sect that knew they were starting an electronics recycling or frozen yogurt concept the day they graduated from elementary school. I thoroughly enjoy both types.
A few interactions stood above the rest:
The Halal Guys - after starting as a food cart on the busy streets of New York, THG’s Hesham Hegazy explained how the team at Fransmart silently stalked them for a few years before coming to them with a plan to bring their brand to a wider, national audience. That’s a cool story, and one I look forward to digging into.
Denis Koci - This soon-to-be-30-year-old co-creator of Burrito Box was so full of energy as he explained how the replicators on Star Trek (synthesize food on demand) gave him the idea for his company, which he sees as having a future far beyond the on-demand burrito biz.
Synergy HomeCare’s Peter Tourian - This first-generation American of Armenian immigrants built his in-home senior care company from the ground up with dozens of immigrant franchise partners. Tourian also may soon be representing his heritage on a formal basis, helping foster business ties between the two countries. Cool guy, cool story.
As much as I enjoyed eyeing up the endless skyscrapers, figuring out the subway and being part of the bustling Manhattan sidewalk commute (a lifelong goal of this city geek), my favorite part of the trip was realizing that six months in, I’m extremely happy with an industry that will never stop exposing me to genuinely interesting people.
See you at the next stop!