I got lucky that nobody
wanted to invest in me
in the first few years.
We almost didn’t raise
A Jewish Mexican
American and son
of a Holocaust
survivor, his entrepreneurial activism
includes Peace Works,
which brings warring
in shared enterprise.
they’re hiring some of the brands
and businesses that we’re investing
in, to solve distinct problems.
DL What’s one example of where
you channeled the consumers and
came up with one of your recent
RS We’re very active right now
with Mediterranean food. I led
a take-private of Zoë’s Kitchen, a
Mediterranean-diet-focused restaurant chain, which was a public
company, and we bought Cava.
Cava needs growth. Cava has
70-odd stores, and Zoë’s is at
250. We put them together. Cava
now has a much bigger platform
in which to play out its capabilities.
DL So you’ve done Au Bon Pain.
You’ve done Panera. And now you’re
doing Act III. Fast-forward 10 years.
What do you want to be remembered for in that third act?
RS What I really want to do is help
a whole new generation of business
builders, particularly in areas where
they have the potential of creating
dominant businesses in what
we would call specialty fast casual.
We want to help them with two
concepts. We want to help them
with what Act III calls venture
management: venture support, not
venture capital. The second aspect
of Act III is what we call “
founder-friendly capital.” One of the things
I see over and over and over is that
entrepreneurs and business builders
get sucked onto the treadmill
of continually fnancing. So when
Act III makes an investment, we
commit to all the capital that a
company needs for all the future
DL For me, an entrepreneur is someone who can combine the opportunity and the execution. There are
a ton of people who are incredible
dreamers but they can’t execute.
There are amazing people who can
execute but they can’t see the
opportunity. You were able to combine seeing an opportunity and then
acting on it. That’s what defnes an
RS I call myself a cynical optimist.
By that I mean I powerfully believe
in the opportunity. I can see it
and taste it. And because I see that
opportunity and love it and respect
it, I am cynical. I’m cynical about
the number of ways in which you
could get upset. And my job is
to execute on that opportunity well
and protect that vision that I had.