Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Luis Iragorri > www.bannastrows.com

Luis Iragorri, Founder, BannaStrow’s

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
The first thing you need in order to be an entrepreneur is passion for what you do. You have to have passion and persistence in your efforts.

What did inspire you to start your business?
Coming from a difficult situation like my kidnapping in Colombia and having to migrate to this great country, emerged the idea of identifying a business similar to the ones I had in Colombia but also identifying one that had great potential in the US. That is how we came up with the idea for crepes.

How did you finance it?
When we started the concept I had a business partner whose group had the capital we needed to start the venture. It is through them that we financed the beginning of BannaStrow’s.

Being Hispanic… Does it have any influence on your business?
Coming from a culture like ours (Hispanic culture), where resources are limited and we are used to a very fast return in investment, served us to make sure that the structure of the business was designed with low level of investment compared with similar concepts, thus achieving that more small investors have access to the concept.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
We try to use adversity as a way to learn and adapt. For example in the year 2008 facing the economic crisis, our business survived by adjusting the payroll and looking for alternative raw materials without sacrificing service or quality as a result we became more efficient.

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
At the exit of initial investor group looking for partners with the same or more passion was a difficult task. But I can say I've been very lucky because out of a crisis situation we emerged strengthened again with the entrance of Mauricio Acevedo and Juan Estrada to the team (my new partners).

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Probably there will be many things to change in the future, for now we've made some changes and the business is very adaptable to change and we always keep our mind open to continuous improvement.

What was your childhood ambition?
In a house with 10 brothers there are always lots of love but a lot of needs, from an early age I learned to use work as a way to meet any needs.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Every day there is a new entrepreneur to admire and try to emulate, I always hear a lot of ordinary people doing good things and I always learn from them.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Personally I am an early riser and I like the business in the morning and evening with the family.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I would not called them sacrifices but to accept challenges, challenges that were slowly adding experience to build the concept Bannastrow's. For example, one of which was to personally operate for one year, opening and closing of the stores, 7 days a week, which allowed me to clearly identify the strengths and correct weaknesses.

What is your favorite quote?
"That's easy” not because things are easy but because it is always possible to do anything you set your mind to do if you have that way of looking at it.

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
I really don’t know what being conventional is. I've always been unconventional!

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Saying I am an innovator is too ambitious. I think what we have done is to identify opportunities, strengths and weaknesses and build from there a successful system, a different business model, dynamic, healthy, and above all cost effective. 

About the company
BannaStrow’s is a 23-unit franchise concept that focuses on an assorted menu of Crepes, Coffee and smoothies, was created after more than 14-years of expertise in the restaurant business. The creators of BannaStrow’s saw a tremendous potential in crepes as an outstanding food item for time-pressed shopping mall customers. Today the concept is starting to saturate the areas with proximity to food courts and high foot traffic in the U.S., with its development being led by CEO Mauricio Acevedo.

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