Jamil Bouchareb: Boostrapping to the Inc 5000 List in Four Years (1307% Growth)
Introducing Jamil Bouchareb
In four years after the launch of Restaurantware, Chief Executive Officer Jamil Bouchareb propelled the company with his leadership and passion to #366 on the Inc. 5000 List.
Now for the incredible part…
…The company was completely bootstrapped from the start!
As you’ll read in the interview, Jamil and his partner injected their own capital into the company and they were switch-hitting positions to get the company off the ground.
So what exactly is the Inc. 5000 list?
The list ranks the country’s top 5000 fastest-growing private companies. And for the year Restaurantware was listed, revenue grew by 1307%!
How did Jamil accomplish this? More importantly, what advice can he give to entrepreneurs?
We asked everything from his entrepreneurial beginnings, starting Restaurantware, challenges along the way, funding advice and more.
What you’ll read is a snapshot of our interview with Jamil, with the full piece coming out in the September Issue of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine. In the meantime, there’s enough below to pick up some incredible entrepreneurial advice!
Jamil’s Story & Best Advice
Since I can remember, my family has been in small business, to include owning restaurants.
I had a little bit of experience in the industry since I’ve worked every position in the restaurant.
It’s what shaped my life, in terms of insisting to run my own company. There’s really no other way around it because I want to have a freedom of my own schedule and to create and innovate as I see fit.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always run some type of business. From a lemonade stand to selling used video games, and then in college, I had a marketing company.
Basically, anything I could see a profit in, I was willing to take a stab at it. I even have a background as a stock market trader after I got out of school.
Whenever I saw a good entrepreneurial idea, I always invested the first chance I could.
Idea of Restaurantware
The idea of Restaurantware came to life strictly out of trend and the need for the industry of disposables to be refreshed, in both a stylistic manner and by treating the environment friendlier.
It was two great opportunities coming together for a very stale industry of disposables that has been around forever and had very ugly products made by boring conglomerates.
Both of the partners in the company have a lot of e-commerce experience, so we brought that angle in and it worked out really well.
One thing that we saw changing in the industry is the traditional distribution model, that’s the old guard, and we felt like things would be changing going into the future.
“Realistically, to become a successful entrepreneur you have to be willing to put the company before anything.”Jamil Bouchareb
I have one partner and the reason he is my partner is because we have complementary skills to each other.
We injected all of our own capital and we bootstrapped the project from the beginning.
We were willing to do anything, if we had to pack boxes, unload containers, fly to China for quality control, drive boxes to FedEx, stay up all night working on the website, we did it all.
You have to have that capability to work in every department, and it also helps you to be successful in business by understanding every single factor that makes the business go.
Early Business Challenges
The earliest challenges were trying to get an industry of people, who were used to seeing a salesman come to their location, to get on the internet and without talking to anyone order something that would arrive a few days later.
The only cure for that was time. As the old guys leave and the new guys come in, they’re used to that type of e-commerce experience. Anyone under the age of 35 or 40, barely knows anything different at this point.
It’s been a slow experience, like a cleansing into the new world. As we see growth with some of the biggest players out there like Amazon and other people like that, it’s clearly where the market is going.
An Entrepreneurial “Recipe for Success”
Realistically, to become a successful entrepreneur you have to be willing to put the company before anything.
Whatever it takes to get it off the ground, you’ve got to get it off the ground. You have to be resourceful in the beginning to make it work because it’s not easy.
It’s that moment of inertia that you have to get past in order for the ball to really start rolling.
Funding the Company
The capital was ours from the beginning. Even at this stage, dealing with the banks is a pain, whether you have money or no money.
Our thought was really to just bypass that all together. We feel like most good ideas can be bootstrapped in the beginning and should grow organically. In the future, you can always upgrade your facilities, surroundings and business based on your success.
Obviously, not all ideas can be done with a low budget in the beginning, it can end up being challenging for some people.
For me, I’ve always had a knack for saving money and looking for opportunities.
I know starting a business may be hard for someone just coming out of cooking school and looking to start something up, but I mean realistically speaking, I have friends who started food trucks for as little as $2,500. That can be done on a credit card, really. And now they’re doing about $5,000 a week in revenue and upgrading the truck in the process.
There’s so much opportunity out there.
Advice for Getting Funding
I would say try to avoid it at all costs, because it’s A) too costly and B) the pressures of having it can cause you to make poor decisions in your business.
Also, never take money from a partner that’s not strategically able to help you. Otherwise, you’re going to give up too much of the economics in your business for somebody that’s not helping.
“Never take money from a partner that’s not strategically able to help you. Otherwise, you’re going to give up too much of the economics in your business for somebody that’s not helping.”Jamil Bouchareb
Advice for Entrepreneurs
I truly believe from the first month you start selling your product, if you can’t see that you can turn a profit in the first month, it’s not a business I’m willing to engage in.
I’m not saying that there are not businesses out there that don’t fit into that scenario that won’t be successful, I just know that when we started this business or any other business, that from the first day we open our doors, I have to be able to cover my monthly expenses at the end of the month and make money in order for me to be interested in it.
I wouldn’t let get anyone get sold on the idea of making money six months out, a year out.
Obviously, you have a certain amount of capital expense out front, but you spend it and then you’re done. Then you’ve got to figure out how to make money from what you’ve built. That’s the philosophy we take. We don’t do anything unless it makes strict financial sense.
Lastly, I would say there are so many great free courses online. And people underestimate the importance of Accounting 101 and Marketing 101.
Personally, I think one of the most incredible insights for me was the part about getting funds. Specifically when Jamil said, “Never take money from a partner that’s not strategically able to help you. Otherwise, you’re going to give up too much of the economics in your business for somebody that’s not helping.”
When you want nothing more but to get your idea off the ground, just about anyone willing to aid with funding looks like a great option. However, keeping strategy in mind, you have to ask how (or if) they will be able to push the venture forward.
I hope the information you read from Jamil was impactful! Be on the lookout for the full interview in the upcoming September Issue of Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine!
Also, if you’re wanting to become an entrepreneur, or just starting out, I’d encourage you to grab a copy of the “10 Rules of Entrepreneurship” below. It touches on a few items Jamil mentioned in his interview!
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