When I invested in that one company, the founders told me that they found inspiration from a chain based in New York called Cosi. I was walking around the World Financial Center (next to Ground Zero – which was an emotional experience) and came across a Cosi store.
It really like was meeting the mother of the girl I have fallen in love with! I was pleased to see how busy it was and how it looked very similar to their idea and yet was definitely an American version of it.
The great thing about this experience with router table plans was that it brought to life a couple of blogs I recently wrote; one on national advantages and the other on not having an idea. They are a great example of taking a look at what New York has to offer in terms of fast food and then seeing what needed to be done to adapt it for the UK market.
I then went to a great restaurant which is built under a bridge next to the Grand Central Station (Pershing square). Those Americans! They see a place in a prime location and carve a restaurant out of it! Mind you, I am pleased to say that around the London Bridge area (where I live) they have made the most of the arches there with a Nando’s (why does that business work?) and another restaurant (yum!) creating good sites.
Finally, I would like to share a great experience I had on Sunday morning. Americans are a very friendly bunch and it is not strange to just get talking to complete strangers. When I was in a Starbucks (same one as I wrote about on Monday’s blog) I spotted an accent which was definitely from Liverpool. I got talking to the person and we ended up having a good conversation. We are meeting tomorrow to discuss some business.
The person told me that there was nothing strange for him to pitch his food steamer business to a stranger in a coffee shop. He was ready with a great elevator pitch – and his business cards. People who know me in the UK would say I am a friendly guy and I will go up to anyone and talk to them. But I have never had anyone ready to pitch to me in the UK by random.
Again, this is something that seems to be engrained in the US psyche. Every meeting with anyone is an opportunity so you should be positive and prepared. In the UK we are more reserved. I do like that in places but when it comes to business we do ourselves serious damage by not being ready 24/7.
I want to back businesses where the owner has sufficient enthusiasm (can we stop using the word passion? – which means either the suffering of Christ or a strong sexual desire) for his or her business.
Regular readers will know that I am in that place on a Saturday morning – perhaps you could say hello and pitch your business? But that just wouldn’t be cricket would it?