1. How did you end up being cast on Start Up? Did you submit or were you contacted?
I was contacted by Jenny – she has a friend who is a long time loyal client and had been coming to the shop when she visited.
2. How did you feel after watching the episode, and is there anything you would've said or done differently?
It admittedly has been quite a while since I watched it, but I felt like it accurately portrayed what Real Kitchen is and our story of how we got to where we were then. A lot has happened since then, and I feel I have even more story about the entrepreneurial side of the business now.
3. What response did you receive from being on the show?
We definitely got a little bump, but it was still early times for the show, so I doubt the viewership was as large as it is now. The business wasn’t sustained for very long. Got a decent amount of contact from people in other cities asking if we shipped, etc.
4. Have there been any major hardships or great accomplishments with you or your business since appearing on the show?
Are there ever not hardships in business? Hah. We tried to expand to a second store which did not take, so we are back to the original one. The whole process of raising capital, and struggling to rebound financially while attempting to take care of investors. Thankfully we have developed a catering program that has grown into the revenue stream we were hoping the expansion would provide.
5. What was your favorite part of being on the show?
The business side of my job is very fascinating to me, and I like hearing about others experiences who are in similar shoes. It was fun to share and to hear about others.
6. What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in business?
That’s a tough question. On the broadest, general level, probably to be honest, generous, and patient, both with your employees and customers. If you make a quality product and put everyone else’s interests above yours, good things will eventually come. Or at least so I tell myself.
7. What advice do you have for other "would-be" small business owners?
To make sure your relationships are sound, that you’re comfortable with sacrificing everything else in your life, and to put aside any notions of success or glory. Where you will end up, and the path you will take to get there, will likely vary wildly from what you’re dreaming of before you start. Your mental state will be much healthier if you can let the business take you for a ride, not try to force it into what you think it should be.
8. If you could move your business and live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Probably Hawaii, so I could work 11-1p every day, just make sandwiches, and then be a beach bum. But honestly, a big city like Chicago is perfect for us. Only shortcoming here is that produce is tough in the dead of winter. Also, without the change in seasons, I think I would feel like I was missing something, so I don’t know if I would move.