This week Joe DeLoss shared his succulent story of Hot Chicken Takeover. After experiencing the hot chicken craze first hand in Nashville, him and his wife thought there may be an opportunity to bring that delicious and scrumptious menu back to midwestern Columbus. Using friends as a test market, DeLoss served up his brainchild every time they came over to watch UFC on pay-per-view. Once validated, they started doing pop-up events outside. Uniquely, they made it a goal to waste no food which meant predicting demand for the whole day and often selling out right before the day’s end. Everything was going well with the outdoor gigs, but as the Ohio winter creeped upon us, Joe realized they needed to change models to support a year-round business. They made their next move to raise money for a food truck on Kickstarter. As support flooded in, it became apparent that managing the campaign, questions, and fulfillment would be a full-time job. Needless to say they were very successful, exceeding their goal of $40,000 by more than $20,000. After giving Kickstarter their share, paying for prizes, and fulfillment of those prizes, they were left with around $40,000. Still, they realized shortly after that a physical presence was necessary for them to better develop their teams and control costs. When they first approached North Market about getting a space they were told the business was still too infant to be placed among the top tier brands that North Market has to offer. But, a few months and 46,000 customers later, they now have their very own space in North Market.
Today, they have 26 employees, all of which they heavily invest in. Their workforce is approximately 40% high school and college students and 60% individuals with barriers to employment. Whether their barriers are their past or their current circumstances, Hot Chicken gives them the opportunity to grow their skills from entry up to management and establish the home and habits needed to maintain a consistent job.
Some key takeaways:
• Kickstarter campaigns are more expensive and time consuming than one may think
• Traction trumps all, if you need money, space, or anything else, numbers make you believable
• If you spend the time to develop your employees, make sure there is room for them to grow within your organization
A big thanks to Joe for serving up a great talk! If you want to check them out they are open Thursday-Sunday, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm at the North Market.