Focus on the Entrepreneur

Focus on the Entrepreneur

Fall 2008

| By: Anonym

Some Like it HuHot


For David Lindenstruth, FVTC’s Venture Center has helped provide the recipe for his entrepreneurial plans. 
David Lindenstruth admits he’s a risk taker. That explains why, even though he had a good job and an engineering degree, he decided to venture into the restaurant business. Lindenstruth knew that buying a franchise would increase his chances of succeeding in the ultra-competitive industry and after identifying Asian food as a growing trend, he and his wife, Tracy, decided to open a HuHot Mongolian Grill in Appleton.

Lindenstruth also realized that he needed specific business training. “I did some research online and found a questionnaire on the Small Business Administration Web site,” he says. “I filled it out and the results showed I didn’t have the appropriate management or entrepreneurial experience, which would be a concern to lenders.”

Enter FVTC. After reading about the college’s e-seed™ program, Lindenstruth enrolled. “It gave me enough of an overview to know what to expect and where to go for other resources,” he says. “One of the more valuable elements was networking with other students. We had entrepreneurs in all stages of business, from an idea written on a napkin to a few years of experience.”

E-seed™ is a 15-week entrepreneurship training program run by the college’s Venture Center that helps start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs develop business management and planning tools. The training paid tangible results for Lindenstruth. By the end of the program, he had written his business plan and was moving forward. “The next step was to take that plan to a lender and get financing,” he says. “One of the things I learned in the program was to approach three to five lenders. By doing that, I got my best loan offer from someone I probably wouldn’t have approached otherwise.”
Open for Business

In February 2006, with financing in hand, Lindenstruth opened his first HuHot restaurant in a 5,500-square-foot space in a new strip center in Appleton. By October, he quit his engineering job and began to manage the restaurant on a full-time basis.

In October 2007, Lindenstruth opened a second HuHot restaurant, this one in a 6,000-square-foot space in Green Bay. He and Tracy have since purchased the rights to five more HuHot restaurants and will open their third in Madison. “Each of our restaurants serves 200,000 guests per year, and we now have 125 employees,” he says.

Lindenstruth adds that one key to his success has been a willingness to hone his entrepreneurial skills. With that in mind, he enrolled in FVTC’s Pro-Seed™ program, which combines online learning and one-to-one business coaching. “I went to an informational session, and it seemed to be what I was looking for,” he says. “Pro-Seed takes an existing business owner and deals with setting up systems and procedures, creating an infrastructure so the company can run smoothly.”

Lindenstruth credits E-Seed with getting him started on the right path and Pro-Seed with helping him expand. “Writing a business plan can be pretty intense,” he says. “I can’t say enough about e-seed and Pro-Seed and the help these programs provided me.”




Good to Grow

How e-seed and Pro-Seed can help turn your business dreams into reality.

FVTC’s Venture Center is designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and expand their businesses through a diverse menu of programs. As was the case for David Lindenstruth, two of those programs—e-seed and Pro-Seed—have been particularly beneficial. “We’ve seen about 160 business launches and expansions as a result of e-seed,” says Amy Pietsch, director of the Venture Center. “In 2007, we surveyed 50 of those businesses. They had collectively created more than 200 jobs, generated gross sales of more than $13.5 million, and invested more than $11 million in starting and growing their businesses.”

Pro-Seed is a blended training experience that includes an online curriculum developed by E-Myth®, a Santa Rosa, California firm. In addition, Pro-Seed provides one-to-one business instruction and quarterly networking events. Pietsch notes the program is quickly gaining popularity with small business owners who want to identify and create systems that will expand their businesses.