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President & Cofounder / Ambiance Radio
Research has proven for decades that music affects the way people feel and behave, but no one had yet applied much of this science to background music—until Newberger.
During his senior year at Cornell University, Newberger was student manager of the fine-dining restaurants on campus. After receiving multiple comment cards decrying the music, Newberger decided to find a source that would better suit the restaurants’ musical needs.
“It was while looking at the different options that were available that I realized people were missing something,” he says. “They weren’t using one thing to be able to come up with music. They were using channelized solutions, they were using sound music branding, trying to market music to what your brand sounds like. But it turns out, they weren’t using anything about science.”
Ambiance Radio uses science to create a fully customized musical approach to a hospitality or foodservice location. No two stores are given the same music, even within the same brand, and the result is quite effective, Newberger says.
“We recognize that music can really make people feel and react in certain ways,” he says. “For instance, we focus the music on helping the restaurant manage wait times, making it feel a little bit less like they’re waiting for a little bit more. We also affect the staff. When employees are happier, that will translate to happier guests in the long term.”
Ambiance Radio’s clients include Schlotzsky’s Deli, Firebirds, Pie Five Pizza Co., and Pizza Inn.
Newberger says playing the right music is the cheapest remodel a restaurant can do. “We’ve had a lot of success helping brands re-image, where changing the music was the first step in their long-haul remodel process and they saw an instant difference as soon as our music went in,” he says.
Founders / Two Trucks LLC
Ages: 26 & 25
With independent food trucks all the rage, it was only a matter of time until someone dreamed up a chain.
Pool and Wagner are working to develop the first national food truck company, Two Trucks LLC. These business partners plan to roll out 200 food trucks on the road by 2014.
Wagner, whose family founded and manages Johnsonville Sausage, approached Pool, who worked in restaurant consulting, with the idea to launch a food truck centered on sausages. This led to a truck they called The Butcher’s Son.
They started with two trucks in Dallas, a simple concept that later gave them their company name.
With Two Trucks, they have worked to develop a base in Dallas, “the next big city for food trucks,” as they call it. Their plan is to develop four other food truck brands in Dallas, and then expand into other cities, launching multiple food trucks at a time nationwide.
Pool and Wagner say they are well on path to achieving their goal, with three trucks on the road already and two more in development.
Chief Ninja / Levelup
Priebatsch is the mastermind behind LevelUp, a high-tech loyalty program meets mobile payment application.
This Princeton dropout’s business card boasts the title “Chief Ninja” instead of “CEO” or “Founder.” Whatever his formal title, Priebatsch and his company are on the path to revolutionize the way customers pay for quick-service food.
In order to pay using LevelUp, customers scan their personal QR code on the LevelUp app. This code is pre-linked to a debit or credit card of their choosing so they never have to pull out any plastic.
LevelUp tracks users’ purchasing patterns digitally and rewards return visits. Its success speaks for itself. Within 30 days, 65 percent of LevelUp customers return to pay full price at a participating quick-service merchant, and the average user returns 2.7 times to a participating merchant.
Priebatsch says his age has never been an issue for him, especially working through a digital platform. “When your product is awesome, age doesn’t really matter,” he says. “If you can honestly tell businesses you’re going to increase customer loyalty, raise sales, and save them payment processing costs, the last thing on their mind is your age.”
These 30-year-old executives, founders, and franchisees just missed our age mark. Their accomplishments, however, are no small feat.
Noah Glass / CEO OLO Online Ordering:
Glass founded OLO in 2005 to help restaurants improve their online ordering and advance their operational efficiency. Clients include Cold Stone Creamery, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, and Sonic.
Adam Eskin / CEO Dig Inn Seasonal Market:
Focusing on fresh supplies, local ingredients, and healthy preparation techniques, Eskin’s Dig Inn quick-serve concept has found traction with New York City eaters.
Matthew Corrin / Founder Freshii:
Corrin opened the first Freshii, a fresh fast food bar concept, in Canada in 2005, and has since expanded to the U.S., Austria, and Dubai.
Travis Heriaud / Franchisee McDonald’s:
Heriaud runs four McDonald’s in Phoenix. Additionally, he works with McDonald’s USA, serving on the Operators’ National Advertising Fund, which is responsible for making decisions regarding McDonald’s national advertising.
Clara Shih / board member Starbucks:
Shih sits on the Starbucks board of directors. She was the first to develop a social business application, Faceconnector, which kick-started the social customer-relations movement.
LevelUp already has more than 1,200 merchants and 100,000 users across Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, with more signing up. Priebatsch’s clients include a variety of quick serves, such as CiCi’s Pizza, Ben & Jerry’s, and Quiznos.
As the company expands into new markets, the amount of monetary transactions doubles every two to three weeks. Despite having launched in June 2011, LevelUp is already processing about $1 million in transactions per month.
Founders / Sweetgreen
Ages: 26, 26, 27
Take-out menus filled with plant seeds, a dining table made of reclaimed bowling alley wood, and an app to calculate your carbon footprint are all features of Sweetgreen.
Founded by Neman, Jammet, and Ru, this salad and yogurt quick-service chain makes it a priority to produce good food for both customers and the environment.
The three entrepreneurs have worked together to launch Sweetgreen since their senior year at Georgetown University.
The high energy of the three business majors allowed them to open the doors of their first restaurant within three months of graduating. In order to work efficiently, they divide up tasks. Neman focuses on finance, working mainly with investors. Jammet handles the logistics of operations, including menu planning. Ru is behind the scenes controlling marketing efforts, such as the company’s promotional rock concert, SweetLife.
“We have worked to create a lifestyle brand,” Neman says. “We want to show people you can have fun while living a sustainable lifestyle.”