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PODCAST: A two-part conversation with a multiple-brand entrepreneur

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PODCAST: A two-part conversation with a multiple-brand entrepreneur

By: Dean Dorton | October 14, 2020

Guest Bryce Anderson, an entrepreneur with multiple brands, explores what frozen yogurt, a salad kitchen, and the active gaming world have in common. Learn how Bryce applies lessons learned from his first business in high school to his current venture decisions.

Unhinged Podcast

Episode 10

Episode 11

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Transcription

Justin Hubbard:
Hey guys, I’m very excited to have Bryce Anderson on this two-part episode of Unhinged. Bryce is an entrepreneur in Lexington, Kentucky. We sat down at his office to explore what frozen yogurt, a salad kitchen, and the active gaming world have in common. We walked through his experience in building multiple brands and how those brands evolve over time.

All right. Bryce Anderson. Welcome to Unhinged.

Bryce Anderson:
Thanks. Good to be here.

Justin:
You’ve got multiple companies, you’re from Lexington. You have Orange Leaf franchises. You’ve started Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen, Breakout Games, Activate, various other entities. Before we dive into all of that, what are some just hobbies, personal interests that maybe can humanize?

Bryce:
Yeah, so something that I’m working on now is trying to figure out … I grew up playing sports and I’ve been trying to figure out what are the sports I’m going to do until I’m 80. And so I’ve decided the two sports that I’m going to try to be good at, are tennis and golf. And so I’m actually really very mediocre at both those things, but in the next 12 months, me and my wife, we’re going to try to get good at both of those things. Because then we can go play golf together, go play tennis together. So those are some hobbies that I’m trying to figure out, right? But right now I’m actually like really bad at those two things.

What other hobbies? I like music. One of my favorite artists, Josh Ritter … I was trying to think, I have a 40th birthday coming up in three years, and I was like, what would be a fun 40th birthday party? And I was thinking that if we get Josh Ritter to come to Lexington and play a small show, that would be a great birthday party.

Justin:
So what happens, are you prepared for the possibility that your wife excels in tennis and golf before you?

Bryce:
She’s a lot more athletic than me. So we were in Missouri a couple of weeks ago and we went and played golf, and she hadn’t swung club since she was 14. She took a golf class in high school. She hadn’t swung a club since then. And so she gets up to the first hole, it’s a par three, and she lands it right on the green. She took a seven iron, first time she’s swung in how many years, and she landed right on the green. I duffed it into the sand trap. So I think it’s very possible that she’ll be able to [crosstalk 00:02:14].

Justin:
Yeah. You want to pick up bowling or …

Bryce:
Man, I’ve always been so bad at bowling. It’s still my goal, as it was when I was eight, to bowl a hundred. That’s a kid’s goal, and that’s still my goal every time I go. So I’m not sure bowling’s it, but …

Justin:
Well, I just throw out warning to you because I love tennis. I used to love golf, I just got tired of throwing money at it. But I married into a tennis family, and I have beaten my wife at tennis one time, and it was in July, and she was eight months pregnant. That’s the only time I’ve ever beaten her at tennis. And I just did drop shot after drop shot.

Bryce:
I bet she was really excited about your relationship after that.

Justin:
She was proud of me for doing what it takes to get the victory. I married a killer, and I think that has actually strengthened our relationship.

Bryce:
Well, yeah. We’ll see how it goes. Right now I can still beat her in both sports, but she’s only done both for a month.

Justin:
There you go.

Bryce:
So we’ll see.

Justin:
What kind of books do you like to read?

Bryce:
There’s one about the, I can’t remember what it’s called … Console Wars. It was about the story of Sega versus Nintendo, in the year that Sega eclipsed Nintendo sales. It only happened for a couple of years, that was when I was I think in middle school, and everyone was getting the Sega Genesis and NBA jam and all that. And that was a really interesting book, and what was happening in Japan and was happening in the US, when Sega tried to overtake Nintendo, and for a year or so, they did.

Justin:
I’m fascinated by how things of the ’80s and the ’90s are now, either they’re being recreated, like Cobra Kai is a big deal on Netflix, but you’ve got all these-

Bryce:
Is it good?

Justin:
It’s amazing. It’s amazing, in the cheesiest way possible.

Bryce:
I watched the first episode the other day, and I fell asleep. And it was not a long episode.

Justin:
Yeah. It’s 30 minutes.

Bryce:
So it worried me that it maybe wasn’t as good as I was hearing, but it’s amazing, huh?

Justin:
This is older men, men in their 50s, who haven’t let go of a 30 year grudge. And now they have disciples, who are following in their footsteps. And so you get to see that the discipleship process, and how it impacts the community. But you also, it opens your eyes to maybe Johnny Lawrence was a victim of an absent father, a horrible mentor, and he just fell into a bad situation.

Bryce:
Yeah, but maybe not as bad a guy as we believed the last 30 years.

Justin:
Exactly. I don’t know. I let my kids watch the first, the original Karate Kid, thinking that they would lean towards the way of Miyagi. And they’re just like, “Sweep the leg, sweep the leg.” Yes.

Bryce:
They learned the wrong lesson.

Justin:
Yeah. It’s no mercy in the Hubbard house.

Bryce:
Oh, that’s great.

Justin:
It’s strike hard, strike early. Yeah, sorry Miyagi. Like I said before, you’re busy. You grew up in Lexington, went to Grove City for college, and you had a stint with SAP for a few years doing some travel, and you started your Orange Leaf franchises, and on and on. When you were younger, was there any indication that you would go the route of business, that this … Or entrepreneurship, not just business, that this would be your path?

Bryce:
Yeah. So me and a friend in high school, I think it was our sophomore year of high school, and it was spring time, we were to decide what should we do for the summer? And a lot of our friends are getting jobs, or working at McDonald’s or something. And we started detailing our parents’ cars, car detailing, buffing, waxing and stuff. And so we started doing a few that summer, and I was like, “Let’s try to make a business out of this.” So for four years we detailed cars, especially in the summer times. Bluegrass Detailing was the name of it. A car detail fit for a King. I don’t know if Kings even drive cars, but that’s what we called it. And so we would go door to door in our neighborhood, pass out flyers, say, “Hey, I live in the neighborhood. Can I detail your car for a hundred bucks? And we’d get to drive nice cars around town.

And so we worked two or three days a week, and made more than our friends did, who had regular jobs. And we had a company credit card, and it felt like, this is the best thing ever. And so I think it began instilling some of the roots that I think are really important in business of, if you’re too worried about exchanging your time for money, it’s really hard to invest in long-term things. And so it taught us that, you might spend all week advertising, and marketing, and talking to people, and not make a dime. But the next week, you might work for five hours and make a lot of money. And so I think I began to be trained in those kinds of things of, let’s try to build something here, believing that if it works, it’ll pay off down the road.

And so we did that for three or four years, and then we got tired of it. I sold my half of the company to my buddy for a hundred dollars. So that was my first exit. We calculated how much equipment, how much supplies we had in his parents’ garage. And I was like, “I just don’t think I can do this anymore.” And so I sold him my half or a hundred dollars. That planted a seed, and I remember going into college, and I just always thought that I would own a business myself. And I think also, doing it with a friend is how it started, and it probably, in my mind when I picture owning a business, it was usually with people. Because I know that’s a pretty big divide. Some people say, “Never do business with friends, be your sole owner, do it yourself and you can control it. You don’t have the weirdness of working with a friendship. And if things go bad, then the friendship goes bad, and it’s too complicated.”

But all along, I’ve always done business with friends. And so my experience has been pretty positive with that, which I think is maybe unique. I think there’s several people who would disagree with that business philosophy, but from the beginning, that’s worked out pretty well for me. When we started Orange Leaf, and it was with two guys from high school, that sounded like a great idea.

Justin:
That’s really interesting. You already used the term friends, versus just partner, or just co-investor. So you have vetted these people to some extent.

Bryce:
Yeah, no, that’s fair. And there’s some things that I’m involved with that are more on the investor side, and that are with some people that I don’t know that well. But to be in day-to-day operations business relationships, our lives are on the line together, if things go bad we’re all going down, if things go good, we’re all rising, there’s a lot of trust.

Justin:
Yeah, for sure.

Bryce:
And you’re working on different areas, and you might not see each other for two weeks, and you’re believing that they’re working on something to make the business better, and I’m working on something to make the business better. It is as a lot of trust. But I think that trust and those relationships allow you to go farther and take bigger risks if you have that. If you don’t have a lot of trust, you probably need to be around each other more. You can’t trust that someone’s going off and doing a deal that’s going to benefit you. But if you have that trust, I think it’s allowed us to take bigger risks, bigger swings, try multiple things at one time. Because really we’re just trying to get one thing to work. We can have three things that fail, but if we get one thing that works, that’s good enough, as long as that thing can scale. So that’s been just a fun aspect of it, working with people that I really enjoy.

Justin:
Now I’ve got to ask, are you in business with the detail partner?

Bryce:
I’m not.

Justin:
Okay.

Bryce:
Well, in a couple of real estate things, but not in normal business.

Justin:
Okay. I was thinking that could be a great, coming back to the Cobra Kai analogy, what if he was this-

Bryce:
What if he was the competing salad restaurant in town?

Justin:
Exactly.

Bryce:
That’s true.

Justin:
And then in a few years, you all had this rivalry.

Bryce:
Man. That would be great.

Justin:
That would.

Bryce:
I wish I had a Cobra Kai rivalry. That might be a goal for the next couple of years, is to try to have that … Do you have any ideas of how to start something like that?

Justin:
Well, I was thinking, so you’re in the active entertainment genre, I believe. So I guess would the sluggish entertainment be your arch nemesis, the things where you just sit and [crosstalk 00:10:53]?

Bryce:
The sluggish, non-fun entertainment. I think we should come back here in a year, and I’ll bring my Cobra Kai nemesis.

Justin:
Okay. Active recruiting.

Justin:
I was thinking, looking at the things you do, FroYo, this awesome salad kitchen concept, which I love, escape rooms, activate the active gaming, leaning heavily on technology. Those things that have nothing in common. They’re all very unique. Is there a thread that connects the three of them? Because they all operate under one umbrella, right? Or at least one management group.

Bryce:
Yep. There is a thread, and I think it’s a really important thread, where it’s they’re very tangible businesses. And so we haven’t built an app. We haven’t done a software as a service company. It’s all a physical location that requires some real estate knowledge, some construction knowledge, and then managing people. So it’s very high employee intensive businesses. And so every business takes a lot of employees, none of them are ones where we have one employee running the whole business. And the third is very high customer intensive business. So whether it’s Orange Leaf or Vinaigrette or Breakout, we survive and we win if we get thousands and thousands and thousands of people to come through our doors.

The big difference would be between the restaurants and the entertainment concepts are, the entertainment concepts are essentially e-commerce businesses, where they book their spot online. The escape rooms are these hour long entertainment concepts where you reserve your spot for the 7:00 island escape, and you have to reserve that ahead of time, and then you come to our space and physically play that game. While the restaurants, obviously, you just show up and pay for your salad. So our marketing and sales for the escape room, and Activate, and these entertainment concepts, is trying to get people to go onto our website and make a booking, while the salad restaurant and Orange Leaf is to try to get people to come back to our store, and is as much an online play.

Justin:
Let’s switch gears and talk about branding. You introduced Orange Leaf to Lexington. Is it fair to say that that was already a brand?

Bryce:
Yep.

Justin:
But Vinaigrette’s yours, Breakout is your group’s. How do you go about building these brands?

Bryce:
When you’re creating a brand, you want someone to see that logo, to see your word mark, and to immediately know what it is, and then to feel the emotion you want them to feel. Because most purchases are intellectual, but really come from the heart. It’s meeting a need that people think … If a restaurant for Vinaigrette was healthy salad kitchen, it would be very explicit, but it wouldn’t touch some of the core internal emotional aspects that say, “Oh, but I would like to go to that place.” It’s just a very explicit … And so I think that’s what, branding, you’re trying to be. How do you be really clear about what it is, while touching deeper emotions in people? And that’s just really tough. And so Vinaigrette elicits something probably a little higher class than a salad bar. At the beginning, everyone’s like, “You’re opening a salad bar, an only salad bar?” And people are picturing a Ponderosa, I don’t know, a Ponderosa salad bar with iceberg lettuce.

Justin:
Well I remember the joke was, Bryce has opened a salad bar that doesn’t have ranch dressing.

Bryce:
Man, the number of people who came in and said, “Do you have a Cobb salad?” And it’s like, “No, we don’t. We don’t have a Cobb salad.” So in creating that brand it’s how do we say, “These aren’t normal salad, these are gourmet salads”? And so Vinaigrette should elicit something a little higher class. These are gourmet. This is not your grandma’s salad bar. Man. Vinaigrettes always go on salads. And so I know it’s going to be healthy, I know it’s going to be in the salad genre. And so you communicate those two things in one word. And so that’s why we did Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen is what it’s called, and so kitchen feels like we’re making it fresh for you, but we thought it was important to put salad in there so that people would know what type of place this is.

Justin:
Perhaps another way is, come experience us, don’t bring your expectations from this other place in here.

Bryce:
Yep. And that was the whole question, how do we get something to market as cheaply as possible with as low risk, but as a good enough version of that concept? So if someone comes, or doesn’t come, we know if the concept works. And so what we did for our first Vinaigrette, we had an Orange Leaf over on Leestown Road, and it was doing okay, but it was mediocre. So we put a wall in the middle of it, and set up a Vinaigrette on the right side. We added a door, and Orange Leaf was still on the left side of it. And so for 50 grand, we opened Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen. We created the brand, we threw up a simple website, to see if, would anyone in Lexington actually pay eight bucks for a salad? Would people come to a place that only served gourmet salads? And if Lexington wasn’t that place, then we’d know it for 50 grand. If it was, we’d be able to test it.

And so we took that spot, and then it ended up working, and it was doing better than Orange Leaf. So we blew out the wall and turned the space into what is now the Vinaigrette over on Leestown Road. And it began growing from that. Because you just don’t know like, will people come and buy salads in Lexington? We know they would in New York, and DC, and San Francisco, but what they do it in Lexington?

Review’s a big deal. And so if ever there’s a review I think under four stars, all the owners get alerted. So we all get an email saying-

Justin:
Four out of five stars?

Bryce:
If you’re under four out of five stars, there’s an alert that we all get, a notification that there was a three star, two star, one star review. If someone had a terrible experience, some people may not review, and you may get some, it’s not an accurate review. But it alerts us to something happened where they didn’t leave saying, “That was such a great experience. Let’s do that next Christmas.” So I think the reviews are a huge part, and people are just used to leaving reviews. And so we ask for that a lot.

Because everything that we do is word of mouth. Lots of marketing tactics, SEO, and social media. But if people aren’t referring their friends, we won’t last. Every year, we rely on the past year’s people to refer their friends, in all our brands. And if people not only … Most likely they’ll either not say anything if they had a bad experience, but if they tell other people about it, then it just cuts your legs out. So we really try very hard to meet people where they’re at, if there’s a bad review or something’s gone wrong, or something seemed off.

Justin:
Yeah. It’s fascinating to me. Even if people have a bad experience, just the fact that that experience is supported by a company that’s ran with integrity, even though you may not be able to fix the experience, it may just not be their thing, but how that can just improve public opinion to smooth things over, by just doing the right thing. It’s that’s simple.

Bryce:
Now, those are our biggest advocates. If something happens and we reach out and say, “We are so sorry, please email me back.” That’s usually what it is, “Please email me back and we’ll talk, and make it right.” And sometimes those people write a raving review, say, “I showed up and something didn’t happen, or the game started late, and so we missed our dinner reservation, and I just can’t believe they would do that to us. It was a huge inconvenience.” And we reach out to them and say, “All right, let us send you to … We got your next dinner reservation, and come in next week on us”, or something like that. Then they update their review, and they may change it from a three to a five star. So that’s what we’re trying to do, is how do we get you from having a two-star experience back to a five-star experience?

Justin:
The franchisee experience, how has that contributed to everything else you’re doing now?

Bryce:
Being a franchisee is really great for starting because it solves 60% of your questions. Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt was our first business. We signed a deal for one location in Lexington, and they said, “Great. Here’s your yogurt. Here’s your cups. Here’s your spoons. Here’s your colors. Here’s website information. Here’s the design. Here’s the tiles. Here’s the furniture.”

And so, we didn’t have to think about that at all. We just buy it and give it to our contractor, and then we decide how do we hire people, how do we have good customer service, how do we market, and it allows us to focus on those things when we didn’t have experience with anything, and so it solved 60% of the questions.

But you are restricted. You can’t add products whenever you want. If you see issues you can’t adjust them as quickly.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
And so, that’s why we wanted to created our own brands-

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
… going forward, especially because you just don’t know until you try and we like to try new things.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
The franchise, they don’t want you trying new things because then it gets crazy and there’s no control. But to start, I think the franchise model is a great idea.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
I don’t think I will ever become a franchisor. I think there’s an interesting misalignment of incentives between a franchisor, that’s the person that owns the franchise, they get a percentage of sales off their franchisees, and so their goal is how do I increase the sales because that’s how they get their revenue and their profits, but a franchisee doesn’t really care about sales. Indirectly, they do. They care about profits.

And so, a franchisor may say, “Hey, do this thing to increase your sales,” but if it doesn’t increase the profit for the franchisee they’re like, “Why are we doing this?” Or maybe it increases sales but decreases the profit of the franchisee, or you need to add an extra $100,000 machine that’s going to come out of your profits but we think it can increase sales.

And so, you have this weird misalignment of top line, bottom line.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
And then, you have a franchisor that is telling a franchisee how to spend their money. And so, it’s just kind of weird.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
So I don’t think I would want to be in the position of franchising Vinaigrette and telling someone when to spend money, how to spend money, to get their sales up so I can be compensated. But overall, they are aligned somewhat in that if the business succeeds they both win, if the business fails they both fail.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
But it’s weird for someone to tell someone else how to spend their money for a business that they own.

Justin:
It sounds like in your situation being associated with Orange Leaf allowed you to maybe pin down some of the sauce processes if you will-

Bryce:
Absolutely.

Justin:
… that have blended into the machine that you know are.

Bryce:
Yep. I’m so glad we did it.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
We still have two locations. It was a great fit for what we needed at that time, but I’m also glad that we’ve progressed having our own stores.

Justin:
For sure, yeah. I’m fascinated by your story, your culture, having walked around your building. Just your network, specifically your peers, your colleagues, folks inside and outside. As an entrepreneur, this may be an ocean of a topic, but how important is having a good, true, valuable network to you?

Bryce:
Yeah. Very important. Next question. No. No, I think that’s interesting. I think the idea of the building relationships and how you can go further, and go higher, and take more risks with the more support you have. And so, a really good example of that is when we started Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen I was the chef making the salads, and with my roommates I would make these salads each night and they all kind of tasted the same. I could figure out how to make different salads. It was weird but my vinaigrettes always tasted the same.

And so, I was like, “We have got to find something else, another solution.” And I was like, “Well, how do you hire a chef to make your whole menu for you? Who would do that?” And I’d gotten to know Ouita Michel back we had done a previous business that did not work, and we had just become friends. And so, I went to Ouita and said, “This may be weird, but would you help us create a new restaurant? That essentially would compete with her restaurants, and she said, “Absolutely.”

And so, that was really powerful that she helps us, her and another lady named Sara Gibbs basically have created our whole menu for us, and when we add a new item we bring them in and we taste different items and come up with a new menu together. And we’ve invested some in her restaurants so now we’re closer tied in, but at that point she was just helping some random guys trying to open a salad restaurant. That didn’t benefit her at all, and we just paid her a small contract fee, and I think that’s what’s really powerful about having people like that, that view the success of Lexington as the success of all.

And I think that’s just from a human side that as one part of Lexington is hurting all of Lexington is hurting, and as all Lexington succeeds everyone succeeds, and I think that’s a really important aspect that someone like Ouita believes, just helping for the betterment of other people and other businesses, even if they may be an indirect competitor believing that in the long run the growth and the improvement of humans around us will also lead to that for me and my family.

Justin:
You mentioned a venture that failed. What is your perspective on your failures? Are you thankful for what you’ve learned from your failures? How do you see those looking back?

Bryce:
Yeah. I think it’s so easy to take everything personally, and everyone says, “Business is not personal,” and it’s very personal. It’s like everything I have is in this thing, my emotions, my family. If this works will be all right, if it doesn’t work they’re not going to be all right, so it’s very personal.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
Or like my work, if you say you don’t like my work it’s hard not to feel like you don’t like me, or don’t think I’m smart, and so I think trying not to take failures or successes too personally. If you take a success personally you think “I’m a genius,” if you take a failure personally you think, “I’m worthless. No one likes me, that’s why they’re not buying my product.”

And I think you can get to two extremes that are very dangerous if you really take it in your heart the success and failures. It’s going to feel good to succeed, it’s not going to feel good to fail, but I think trying to have a good perspective on that is a big deal for longevity, kind of that long-term approach.

Justin:
For sure.

Bryce:
The two main failures that we’ve had is, one, before Vinaigrette we opened a local foods cart in Fayette Mall, and so we had a local foods cart and we sold local blackberries. We had a little soufflé cup with two blackberries, you could sample our local blackberries, and we got local farmers to bring stuff in, and it was terrible. It was right across from the Coach store and no one wanted a bag of tomatoes on their way to H&M. No one wanted these things.

Justin:
How dare they.

Bryce:
How dare they, yeah. And so, that lasted six weeks. We signed a lease, we put all this infrastructure in, and it lasted six weeks, and it was not good to not work.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
It was so obvious it didn’t work, it was easy to shut it down, but it got us into this food space. We had started Orange Leaf looking for the next thing, started The Grove, which was what was in the mall. It didn’t work, but it introduced us to Ouita.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
We learned about food and how if you’re going to buy a tomato from a farmer for a $1 and sell it for $2 in the mall I’m trying to get a dollar worth of value out of this tomato just by moving locations, and that’s tough, but you can upcharge for food if you’re going to make a combination of a little tomato, a little lettuce, a little vinegar, a little cheese, a little chicken, and that’s what a salad is, and that’s why you can charge that extra dollar because this combination of everything that tastes good together that’s valuable, but me just taking it from a farmer and selling to someone in Fayette Mall I’m not adding a lot of value but I’m asking someone to pay a dollar for that service.

We opened something, let’s see, two years ago called Color Chaos. You go through this five different room experience. They’re kind of active gaming. You’re flying this custom-made video game, this plane, and then you get sprayed with color paint. And so, you get a smock on, you have a face shield, and you get a great video of yourself getting sprayed with paint, and we’re like, “This is going to be awesome. It’s going to be super fun.” And some people came but people didn’t really come back, and didn’t really tell their friends, and it just didn’t work.

So we tried it for a year, but we learned a lot about the technology behind it, and the different games, and what was fun, and what wasn’t fun, how do you track their experience, how do you track their scores, how do you display their scores. We shut that down in January of last year, 2019, and then in February we found a really interesting concept in Winnipeg, Canada.

I was combing through. I’m always looking for different concepts around the world and found an article from The Winnipeg Times about this new active gaming facility in Winnipeg, Canada. And so, the next week we went up to Winnipeg, and this is Activate Games, saw they had this new active gaming experience. And we worked with them, we’ve partnered with them, and so we’ve opened our first location in Louisville last December, 2019, right before COVID hit, which is unfortunate, but the Color Chaos failure allowed us to when we saw Activate that this is unique, this is really cool, this is really well done.

The technology is there. The experience is there. People are having fun, and I don’t know if we would’ve realized the potential there if we hadn’t failed at Color Chaos. And so, that was another example of how a failure opened our eyes, gave us better infrastructure, gave us experience into a lot more high tech avenue than Breakout has been even though Breakout has become a lot more high tech.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
I think that’s part of life.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
Is taking swings, everything, every risk is a probability, and if it fails or succeeds it doesn’t mean it was a bad or good situation, it matters if it’s like the probability was the right decision.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
If something is 90% probable to happen and you’re just making that percentage up that’s probably a good swing depending upon your risk, but it might not happen, and then something maybe that was 1% likelihood to happen, and it happens, does that mean that was the right decision to go for it, and it’s like, maybe not. You gambled and got lucky, but playing those odds over 50 years you’re not going to win if you’re always making 1% gambles.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
I think the failures have been really important for our success.

Justin:
Yeah. How has Vinaigrette benefited from your willingness to try new things, success or failure?

Bryce:
Yeah. That’s a good question. I mean, we’ve launched some different products and some have failed. The salad combination that you mentioned, the spinach salad wrap.

Justin:
Yeah, the spinach wrap. Love it.

Bryce:
That’s kind of a third iteration of is there something else that we can put this salad in beside the bowl that someone can take with them to eat, and even just a substantive, some people aren’t filled with the salad. And so, we tried wrap it first, and it didn’t work, it just tasted bad. And then, we tried a sandwich. We carved out a brioche bun from DBA, and it was okay, just it was so heavy, bread. And then, we came upon this salad wrap and it’s been a good fit.

So I think just willingness to, let’s try it, if people like it we’ll know really quickly, if they don’t they won’t, just being willing to risk, and try, and spend money and not get in this, “Oh, we’ve gone far enough. Let’s just stop and hold, and make sure we don’t lose what we have.”

Justin:
What would soon to be 40-year-old Bryce say to 18-year-old Bryce?

Bryce:
Not there yet.

Justin:
I said soon, three, four years. You’re closer to 40 than 18, brother.

Bryce:
I’m closer to 40 than 18, yeah. It’s weird. What would I say to my 18-year-old self?

Justin:
Yeah. Keep washing those cars?

Bryce:
Keep washing those cars. Yeah. I mean, I think that idea about taking things too personally, to not get your value, your personal value, your worth, from your success or your failure I think is really important. The idea of risking and trying is I think something that we do pretty well, and I’m glad that we do that, but I think encouraging my 18-year-old self to risk and try. I didn’t really do that a lot until probably my mid-20s. I was probably more … I mean, I wanted to do business but I don’t think I was a very risky person.

Justin:
Got it.

Bryce:
But I think especially if you do risk with minimum downside you can try a lot of things, and so I think I would encourage myself going into college, finishing high school, man, if you want to try something, go for it. It’s worth putting your time into something even if it doesn’t work because you will learn something from that.

Justin:
Who are some of your mentors?

Bryce:
I would say Ouita. I respect her a ton.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
I mean, a lot of my mentors are virtual mentors-

Justin:
Yeah. For sure.

Bryce:
… I would say. As a guy that we’ve learned a lot from, Nassim Taleb. Have you ever read any of his stuff?

Justin:
No.

Bryce:
He’s a really interesting guy, just talking about risk, and a lot of our monetary investment and just business decisions just kind of come from that philosophy of if you can get in the rabbit hole, but convexity of invest in things that have a limited fixed downside and a potential for exponential upside. And so, we don’t necessarily want to open a business that there can only be one of because there’s not a scalability.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
When you work with a lot of people and a lot of partners like we have the downside is that you have to have something that scales for it to matter. If we just open one restaurant and it’s a mediocre restaurant that can’t scale it’s not going to benefit anyone. It’s not worth all the upfront work.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
But then, there’s also ways to limit downside. I think that’s a really important thing when people think about investing. They kind of think investing you’re all-in in this idea, and if it goes great you’re going to make a lot of money, but if it goes poorly you’re going to lose it all, and I think it’s really important to find investment and risks that have that upside like, oh, this could go great if it goes well, but if it goes to nothing and disappears we know this is our fixed lose.

Yeah. I think some of our service people have been big mentors to us from accounting and attorneys that are older than us and have a lot more experience. We’ve leaned on them heavily in areas that we don’t know. Finding a good accountant, and a good accounting team, and then a good attorney has been huge. I would say they’re our mentors, which I don’t know, they probably wouldn’t necessarily see it like that but that’s been invaluable for us over these last 10 years.

Justin:
Accountants and attorneys aren’t as sexy as some of the other people you’ve mentioned, but-

Bryce:
Yeah. I mean, it’s so valuable to have someone, like what you guys do, to have someone that sees so many businesses, and someone coming in and saying, “I have no idea what to do in this situation. I’ve never seen this before and I’m really scared,” or “This is really risky. What should I do?” And you’re like, “I’ve seen it a 100 times. Here are a couple different ways to look at it.” It’s so helpful.

Justin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Bryce:
So I just think that what you guys do is really valuable.

Justin:
Well, I wish we did more of what you did and try to make people happy.

Bryce:
Yeah. I don’t know. I feel like you-

Justin:
That’s the jam, like that.

Bryce:
I guess it’s probably not fun to email people and say, “Here’s your tax bill this year. You better pay it or the IRS is coming after you, but man …”

Justin:
“Please pay us first.”

Bryce:
Yeah. Feel free to pay us before you pay your tax bill though. Just don’t pay us with the leftovers.

Justin:
All right. We’ll get you out of here on this, if you had one message to young entrepreneurs that you would want to remind them of every day what would it be?

Bryce:
Another mentor I guess is Seth Godin at the beginning. We’ve read a lot of his stuff, and I’ve read a lot of his stuff. So his big phrase that we’ve used from the beginning is “Ship it.” The idea is it’s so easy when you’re trying to launch something new to make something that’s perfect, make something that is complete. Is it good enough? Because people are going to criticize whatever you put out there, and I think you don’t know what works and what doesn’t until it’s out there in front of customers to actually see, and it’s going to hurt, or it’s going to be exciting, and you don’t know, but don’t wait too long before you ship it.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
And it’s really important to get something out there quickly because if you just spend a lot of time … There’s people that say, “I had this idea. Let me run this idea by you. I’ve been working on it for three years.” That is not a good thing.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
You should not have been working on this for three years. You should work on it for three months, and then get it out there and see if it works. Don’t waste all this time on just making this perfect thing that in your head works when you’re making it for someone else.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
And so, I think I would say that for a young entrepreneur is with the idea that the world needs your ideas, the world needs your failures, it needs your successes, and you’re depriving the world of goodness by holding on to your ideas.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
Even though it’s scary, and it’s risky, and it may even cost money don’t deprive the world of the ideas you’ve been given, and if it fails keep moving forward because usually failures do open your eyes to the truth behind that failure, or it can, it doesn’t always. There’s really bad ways to fail also.

Justin:
There’s levels.

Bryce:
Yeah, but I think just don’t be too afraid to ship it.

Justin:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bryce:
There’s more money in the VC angel world than there’s ever been in the history of humankind looking for ideas that have potential. There’s no better time now to get an idea funded.

Justin:
Yeah.

Bryce:
So if your idea has any traction it’ll get funded, and if it doesn’t get funded it probably means your idea’s not going to work, or maybe you’ve haven’t articulated. There’s multiple reasons why you may not get funded, but I just think there’s less and less reason to avoid shipping your idea.

Justin:
That’s good stuff. Thanks for being on.

Bryce:
Justin, fun hanging out. This is the most we’ve hung out in years. It makes me want to do it more.

Justin:
Agreed. All right. Check Bryce and his team out, Orange Leaf, Vinaigrette, Breakout, Activate. Who knows what else is coming down the pipe? So all good things, and y’all have a good time.

Bryce:
Yeah. Thanks so much.

Your Host

Justin Hubbard
Justin HubbardAccounting & Financial Outsourcing Director

With Guest

Bryce Anderson
Bryce AndersonOwner, Activate Games America
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