This Columbus Food Truck Founder Exemplifies the Power of Networking

May 8, 2017

5:50 pm

With no business plan or working capital, it can be hard to build a business. However a driven work ethic, unending passion, and some family recipes, Lisa and Vincente Gutierrez opened their food truck business, Dos Hermanos Taco Truck, and rolled right into entrepreneurship.

The couple met at a restaurant where Lisa was the manager and Vincente was the line cook. Together they had dreams of owning their own business and creating jobs. On a whim, they decided to buy a food truck from their friend, borrowed pots and pans from friends and family, and launched their food truck with recipes from Vincente’s family from Oaxaca, Mexico.

“In 2012, we just opened the business and the community supported us and loved the food,” Lisa said.

As their business began to grow, Lisa needed to build her entrepreneurial skills and find ways to expand the business. Lisa turned to the Columbus Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI). The non-profit economic development organization helped provide Lisa with a place to park their truck, access to a prep kitchen, and offered affordable classes to help market the business.

“I had no idea about mobile food vending, how to write a business plan, social media or how to make a logo,” Lisa said. “They had a women’s business center attached and I got my business hat on!”

In 2015, Lisa was accepted to the Entrepreneur Exchange Program, funded by the SBA ScaleUp America initiative. This nine-month program is a community-focused initiative where business firms can grow by leveraging, networking, and complimenting the existing resources and expertise in their areas.

Through the program, Lisa was able to leverage her networking opportunities to expand their business that included two food carts and became vendors at sport stadiums and local hot spots.

“The ECDI made our business credible. We were noticed by the North Market and they wanted to bring in authentic Mexican cuisine – we were one of three businesses chosen. [Most importantly,] I knew having that restaurant in the market would break the cycle of not being able to create jobs,” Lisa said.

Through heavy social media marketing, word-of-mouth and expansion, Dos Hermanos became a recognizable brand.

“We are in the Ohio State stadium serving tacos on game days for football and soccer, and serve as a pop-up restaurant at JPMorgan Chase’s McCoy Center. Being in front of these large crowds and companies make us credible,” Lisa said.

When it was finally time to get a loan to expand her business, the network she’d developed in the community was helpful.

“Just by talking to the small business bankers and connecting with Chase it had really helped our small business grow,” Lisa said.

While their dreams of owning a business and creating jobs are coming to fruition, there are always unexpected twists and turns as an entrepreneur.

“I was surprised by how much it took to run the business. I was the cashier and taking the orders and I couldn’t foresee myself not being on the truck however, as we stated to grow I couldn’t be everywhere. I needed to let go and put people in different roles, and they were amazing. The strength in our staff and empowering them has allowed us to continue to grow the business. [Each day I say] wow! I’m surrounded by a bunch of talented people,” Lisa said.

This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Chase.com/forbusiness. Read the rest of our Startup Week series.

Delicious photos courtesy of Dos Hermanos 

Read more about the value of networking here on Tech.Co

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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