What was the inspiration behind Pure Green Franchise?
My inspiration comes from my personal mission to make people healthier. My background is in the fitness industry, where I started out by working for high-end health clubs in New York City. I later started my own consulting company where I launched dozens of big-box gyms, specialty boutiques, Pilates studios, yoga studios, and finally juice bars.
When looking at how to transition the mainstream population to a healthy lifestyle, I realized that when it comes to optimal health, about 80% of results is based on nutrition, while only 20% is from fitness. From consulting on both fitness centers and juice bar models, I saw how a 500 square foot juice bar is a much more scalable model than a 40,000 square foot big-box gym. This understanding helped shape the fundamentals of Pure Green.
I opened the first Pure Green in New York City in 2014. Fast forward to today, our cold pressed juice is now sold in thousands of accounts in over 30 states and we are on target to sign 50 franchise locations by the end of 2020 and 800 locations by the end of 2024.
This is not your first time founding a company—what do you think is the most important skill founders need to succeed?
One of the most important skills that founders need to succeed is the ability to persevere through challenges and to pivot when you get stuck. The media focuses a great deal on the success stories of unicorn brands and not enough on the obstacles and challenges that founders endure along the way. Many of the most successful founders within my network are founders who have undergone many failures—this is not talked about. These failures can be defining moments for founders.
In my opinion, a founder’s ability to persevere through their failures, pivot when they get stuck, and take decisive actions are key elements to building a successful company.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Being an entrepreneur and starting a company always involves risk. I believe that some of the risk can be offset by having the best products in your market and by staying true to your core values and not cutting corners. When I started our wholesale business, much of our competition within the cold pressed juice industry was owned by huge VC-backed companies with massive capital. We, on the other hand, were bootstrapping our business. I didn’t have any budget for marketing.
However, an interesting dynamic occurred in the marketplace; the competition with deep pockets focused on lowering their COGS while using inferior ingredients. This change in quality significantly impacted the flavor profile and overall taste of their products. We stayed true to our values and refused to sacrifice the quality of ingredients. As a result, we ended up being one of the last standing super premium beverages left on the shelves.
What’s been the #1 (or two) biggest challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Our number one challenge has been keeping up with our rapid growth. We started out with brick and mortar retail stores and moved on to enter new markets. When we started focusing on wholesale, we had to shift our focus into sales and acquire accounts and later distributors. Our biggest challenge at this point was moving juice from point A to point B, and later moving juice all over the country. We originally bought our own refrigerated trucks and even self-distributed to all our accounts. At one point, we even co-packed and made juice for our competitors. We realized that we had to narrow our focus and eventually learned to leverage distributors instead of distributing ourselves.
We knew that supporting our franchisees across the country would be our biggest challenge. That's the reason we structured the company with a master franchise structure by leveraging sub-franchisers that are proven 100+ unit franchise operators to ensure our franchisees are well supported. We are now well positioned for massive growth opening up franchises all over the U.S. and we later plan to open franchises all over the world.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about yourself through this process?
Early in my career, I had a difficult time fully mobilizing my team and I often did tasks myself that could have easily been delegated.
Over the years I realized that building a world-class organization is a team sport.
I learned that oftentimes putting people in the right role will help them excel at what they do and I’ve seen first-hand that the momentum really starts to occur when you have the right people in the right positions.
You also are a podcast host. What’s that like?
I started a podcast, RF Podcast, out of my own curiosity to meet interesting people within the wellness world and the podcast unexpectedly became a great way to network and even to meet investors. I’m very interested in optimal performance and curious about how other entrepreneurs and wellness visionaries structure their daily routines for optimal results. Although I haven’t filmed any podcasts recently, I certainly plan to pick things back up in the future.
Why did you decide to raise from the crowd?
I’ve been approached by many VC and private equity firms who want to invest in Pure Green for a straight equity deal. What drew me to Republic is the type of security we are raising on, which is a SAFE. Because we are operating profitable, if we did a straight equity deal, the distributions to investors would slow down our growth. The SAFE structure allows for some breathing room and for us to grow much faster by reinvesting the profit back into the company. The other aspect which drew me to Republic is the idea of having thousands of investors have a stake in Pure Green. This helps to promote greater brand awareness and visibility for Pure Green, word of mouth referrals for franchises, more potentials customers to our store, and greater social media exposure.
What’s your team culture like?
When it comes to culture in our stores, hospitality is at our core. We aim to deliver warm, friendly and an engaging guest experience. We call our customers "guests" and we treat them like we would treat a guest in our own home.
In the effort to build an empowering team culture, we are very careful about the language that we use in our stores and to each other. We don’t use the words “can’t,” “try,” or “impossible.” One of our core values is continuous improvement. We don’t assume the way we are doing things is always the best way; we are always open to feedback and improving everything that we do.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is surrounding myself with incredible people. I’m very fortunate to have met a network of talented people that never cease to amaze me. I like surrounding myself with people that are proactive and build up people’s energy. I call people that take energy away “energy vampires” and make it a point to avoid these types of people.
What’s your kryptonite?
I call my kryptonite “analysis paralysis.” Analysis paralysis tends to be over-analytical thinkers that go back and forth accessing the pros and cons of every decision, and by the time they finally make a decision, the opportunity is usually lost. Ultimately, I believe decisions should be made based on core values and determined without hesitation or delay. Before the decision is made, debate is encouraged, but once a decision is made, everyone on the team must embrace it as if it was their own idea.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I’m highly interested in biohacking which is focused on optimizing the human body. I take a slew of supplements and nootropics for greater focus which I find helps to enhance cognitive function.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
There is a website called Brain.fm that I often use to play focus-oriented music in the background while I’m working on the computer, I find it helps my ability to concentrate.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
You’re on the right course, keep building and trust your gut.