Every year on the Fourth of July, in the middle of all the backyard celebrations and fireworks displays, I like to pause and take a moment to remember the great men and women who make holidays like this possible. When I moved to America as a child, I was immediately struck by the patriotism and love for this country that is celebrated every Independence Day. I honor and celebrate all the veterans who make this holiday possible. I’d also like to introduce you to some veterans I’m proud to have in our Edible family.
There have been many high points over the course of my entrepreneurial journey, but I can’t think of any that compare to this past Sunday when I was honored with the International Franchise Association’s Hall of Fame Award.
To receive such an incredible honor was humbling.Not long ago I asked a good friend how he was doing and he said, “better than I deserve.” I thought that was an incredible response, and considering what many people are facing, I feel the same way. I am blessed. My LORD has been very merciful and I can never be thankful enough for His blessings.
Receiving the Hall of Fame award from Jay Duke and IFA Board Chair Shelly Sun.
As I was preparing for the ceremony, I couldn’t help but think of all those that have supported me and influenced me over the years. There are so many people to thank for helping me along the way. It is due to their kindness and generosity of others that I have been able to fulfill many of my dreams.
First, of course, were my wonderful mother and father and all my brothers and sisters.
As many of you know, I arrived with my family in this country as a young boy and we had very little. At 13, I got my first job at a flower shop thanks to the kindness of a small business owner named Charlie Farricielli. If not for him, I likely would have never have had the urge to become an entrepreneur.
I recently participated in an event that was not only inspiring but also left me excited about the future of business, in general, and specifically franchising.
As a founding sponsor of the International Franchise Association’sNextGen program, I was invited to join several of my colleagues on a panel in which I was able to share my experiences in building Edible Arrangements with a group of about 40 young entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs were winners of the IFA’s Young Entrepreneurs in Franchising Competition and were selected from more than 450 applicants across 44 countries who submitted ideas for franchiseable businesses.
I was encouraged to find that many of the ideas reflected social responsibility within the business opportunity, such as alternative energy refill stations from South Africa and fresh drinking water systems from Uganda. This new generation truly understands the importance of being a contributing member of their community.
What excited me most, however, was the vision these young men and women have for the future of franchising.
While those numbers are impressive and reflect the critical role that franchising plays in the economy, I’ve always felt that we are just scratching the surface when it comes to realizing the true potential of this amazing business model.
Advances in technology have given us opportunities not available even a few years ago to build dynamic franchise systems that go well beyond a chain of shops offering the same products or services.
We have the opportunity to create our own ecosystems in which we can control almost every part of the process — from production of the resources needed to create a product all the way to how the product or service is purchased — thus guaranteeing a universal experience.
What I discovered in visiting with these young men and women is that they “Get It!” They are a generation raised in a global economy and in a time in which companies such as Apple and a few others are redefining the way businesses serve their many markets. Their ideas for how to launch and grow their businesses reflected this more global way of thinking.
As a result, I truly believe they understand that franchising can be much more than it is today.
I am excited to see where this new generation takes us. Wherever it is, I am confident it will bring the type of new thinking and innovation needed to inspire all of us in franchising to rethink the way we do business and bring us closer to reaching our full potential.