Andrew Pudalov talks with FranchiseInterviews about his Rush Bowls journey and what is to come in the future
FracnhiseInterviews has been giving an up close, behind the scenes look to franchising and entrepreneurship. They chose to meet with Andrew Pudalov, our Founder and CEO, to talk about his passion for healthy and nutritious meals and the new franchise opportunity with Rush Bowls with host Marty McDermott. If you are an individual who is interested in one day owning your own Rush Bowls, this information is vital!
Marty: What prompted you to create the company and where are you guys today?
Andrew: It all started after 911, we were living in Manhattan and the destruction really set a forcing motion that really transformed our lives. My Wife and I and our two little kids. After losing some of our friends I decided I did not want to live in New York and I wanted to provide healthy food to people who really appreciate and want it and want to eat that. So we made a conscious decision to leave and move to Boulder, CO. We left in 2004 to start Rush. One of the ideas behind it was providing healthy nutrition. When I lived in New York City and going back ten years, there was nothing. Your kids and you would go out to eat and the choices are hot dogs, grilled cheese, pizza, chicken fingers. Right there started to cord with me and I wanted to provide healthy nutrition. So when I moved to Boulder and opened a Rush Bowls on the hill, which is by the university, and right away started launching into the whole bowl concept and from there it has been taking off.
Marty: It is a healthy alternative, that really gives you energy doesn’t it? It doesn’t make you sluggish after lunch or a snack.
Andrew: No, it’s fantastic. What we provid is a full meal full of nutrients and delicious fruit. We even put vegetables in. Not only is it nutritious, it energizing. A lot of times someone eats something that may not be as healthy or either has a lot of sugar in it. We have natural fruits in it so you have prolonged energy throughout the day to keep you going. Not only that. It’s a meal. It’s a breakfast, lunch, or dinner and our consumers consume it that way. They know that if they have a Rush Bowl, they’re good all day. That’s why we’ve been 12 years on in Boulder, CO and that’s a really long time for the businesses here. We’re really part of the institution here in Boulder.
Marty: Would you say are your customers?
Andrew: We have customers of all age groups. I would say the millennials and the Z generation, which is the younger generation up to really 55 and younger I would say is our target audience. They want grab and go. They want quick nutritious meals. We actually, in 2011, started a wholesale company. Frozen meals of what we make fresh in store. So you can’t compare to eating it fresh, but this is the closest thing you can do and were in a lot of possible resorts and foods in the Rocky Mountain Region. That’s for people that can’t come to the store. It’s too far, whatever it may be. Those are actually mom’s buying it for their children or themselves. Think about much more nutritious yogurt, but much more filling and they’re using it without some of the dairy issues and some of the other issues. One thing also unique about Rush Bowls is that we focus on providing anyone with any type of allergies. We really can accommodate you with a nutritious meal to go. That’s a big focus with us of our business just making sure that everyone, no matter what their allergy may be, are taken care of. And that’s a huge increase in the population.
Marty: Did you know at the time, when you go back to 2004, did you realize that this was going to make a good franchise? Did you know that franchising would be a good means of distribution?
Andrew: Well I wish I could say yes, but at the time when I moved here I wanted to do something I had no knowledge about and go a different track and it’s been an incredible learning experience. It’s been wonderful and every level from understanding retail, understanding wholesale, and I think that’s what helped me build out this creativity. Then meeting Buddy Brown, who’s my partner on the franchising, he really is an incredible partner. He has extreme knowledge within franchising and really brought the light with what we can go nationwide. and not even nationwide, we have interest throughout the world. We have a huge amount of interest in Canada, in India, in the Middle East, and Europe. So we’re gonna grow very quickly and very fast, but certainly you’re always learning and that’s the beauty of it and that’s why I love it so much.
Marty: It sounds like you’re having customers come into the store and asking how can I own one of these and I think that was probably one of the signs too, wasn’t it?
Andrew: Oh, all the time. You want to really help them and say yes! in 2011, I launched the wholesale so being at the time, you can’t launch too many things all at once. That’s why leading with Buddy Brown it really put into cement having a huge infrastructure to really grow the business.
Marty: What is your favorite and what are some of the popular items on the menu?
Andrew: Well they’re all good and that’s part of the success of the business. All the bowls, we have 30 of them and they’re all delicious. It’s really what fruit or vegetable you’re in the mood for. Mostly it’s fruit based. My personal favorite, we do something called the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bowl. What makes it really unique is that we grind our own peanut butter and make our own jam. So we know what the ingredients are. We don’t put anything in the peanut butter, it’s just fresh ground peanut butter blended in with some strawberries, whatever milk if you want almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or milk milk and bananas. Just blended together with all these different fruits and not only that, we top it with a little bit of fresh peanut butter and fresh jam and it’s just, the texture and the granola that we use is hemp granola and honey and the texture with fresh bananas on top. It makes your mouth water just thinking about it. I love that. We have a lot of different acai bowls, so if you’re in the mood for acai, which we’ve had for 12 years. They’re all good. We have Jungle Book when you want something a little more tropical, but if I want to give you my favorite meal of the day would be my peanut butter and jelly bowl. It’s incredible.
Marty: It’s safe to say that there’s growth in your specific segment, isn’t there?
Andrew: Ya, I mean, the numbers are off the charts. You know understanding wholesale, which would be groceries and then the retail, it is truly a big industry. Healthy and all-natural foods. And fast casual is actually just now catching up to what all the supermarkets are doing. Everyone is going to realize when they walk into supermarkets there’s a much greater focus on natural and healthy foods. Thank goodness. Fast casual is running right now to catch up and even build out that so the time on this is just incredible. We’re super excited because that industry is growing at such a rapid pace and everyone wants to eat healthy. Everyone wants to live longer. Everyone wants to stay in shape. It’s not going anywhere and I think we’re on the cusp of huge thing.
Marty: What types of characteristics do you look for in your franchisees?
Andrew: We look for self-motivated, interests align with the interests of our company Rush Bowls, that they’re focused on great service. It’s super important to us that they’re service-oriented people. That they are health focused, which is a passion of theirs. We really look for passionate people that want to feed really healthy delicious food to people and that, most importantly, that they’re driven and that they have realistic expectations.
Marty: Do they typically come out to Colorado for the training? And what does the training entail?
Andrew: We do quite extensive training because we want to make sure everyone is in a position to succeed. So we do on-site and off-site training. We have people come here to train at our retail location to understand what’s involved. We do something that a lot of other franchises do not do as readily. We do local marketing. Our CMO is Mark and he helps with the local field marketing. So understanding your marketplace, wherever that may be, helping to reach out the consumers there. And then we also go to wherever your location is and we can train you there making sure that you’re ready. So it’s really just hitting the throttle as people say and moving forward in an educated situation.
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