While most MBA students go the conventional route of finding a summer internship with an established company, Leeds MBA students Electra Guerra and Kien Do undertook a daring adventure for the summer and beyond: starting their own food truck! And thus, Bootleg Egg was born, offering what many claim to be the tastiest mobile breakfast on the Front Range. Here they generously share their insights on the experience.
What inspired you to start a food truck?
Electra: I've had this idea for a breakfast restaurant for years but it has always just been a dream. This past summer when Kien was on board with starting a business, I pitched the idea as a food cart since it seemed like the most financially viable way to bring the breakfast restaurant into real-life.
Kien: I grew up in my family's restaurant and have always liked serving people food that makes them smile. I also saw it as an interesting challenge to undertake and thought what better time than now to give it a shot?
How has your enterprise evolved since it first began?
Kien: We are now much more efficient in our operations. We have also become more realistic with our expectations in terms of sales and timelines on growth. I'd say we were much too optimistic and experience has given us a healthy dose of reality.
Electra: Parts of our menu has evolved - we are still working to find the best chorizo for our customers. Some initial ideas we had have disappeared because we realized they wouldn't work. For example, we initially thought we'd sell coffee and snacks as well as our breakfast bowls, but when you sell to people who are right outside of their office building - they don't need coffee or snacks.
What impact has this had on your friendship, and what advice would you give to other friends thinking of going into business together?
Kien: I think we have become much closer in our friendship. I have come to have an even greater respect for Electra than I had before on a personal and professional level. [Entrepreneurship Professor] George Deriso had some good advice when we first started and that was to give one person a little bit more stake in decision making. This was to avoid stalemates and bitterness when the two of you disagree.
Electra: I would say we are closer than before but we also are very comfortable with challenging the other. I think it’s very important to go into business with someone you respect and enjoy as a friend but I'd be cautious of going into business with someone who you have a long history with or consider a very close friend. There's a balance and I'm very thankful that Kien and I struck a good one!
What has been the hardest part? The most rewarding part?
Electra: Hardest part, no doubt, waking up early (I'm talking 1am). The most rewarding part has been having regular customers who seek us out. I love that we have regulars - it makes me know our food is hitting the spot!
Kien: The hardest part may be the constant state of flux everything seems to be in, whether it be problems with the city, kitchen or customers, there is always something demanding attention.
The most rewarding part has to be seeing people enjoy our food and getting a loyal following of customers. It is also really exciting to see something you put together come to life. There were a lot of moments when we looked at each other and were like "wow this is really happening!", and having it all come together has been a great experience.