What Product Development Companies Can Learn from a Neighborhood Entrepreneur

I have been watching a local entrepreneur build his business from scratch over the past two years and I applaud him for doing all the right things to establish his company, which appears to be very successful so far.

He is a restaurateur, who set himself apart from a very crowded market in Toronto, Canada. Here are the things he has done over the course of two years:

Identify a Niche and Stick to It

He started with one single dish (smoked meat) with appropriate condiments. Nothing else! He did not copy other successful smoked meat delis, but developed his own style and flavor.

Develop Effective Partnerships

He started his business as an add-on to an existing pub. He served his signature dish while the pub served everything else. The partnership made sense when I first saw it and gave the entrepreneur a chance to start with a very small investment.

Test Your Product Early & Modify as Needed

In his early days, when he operated out of the pub, he would personally serve his dish and ask for patrons’ opinions on the food. He experimented with a few flavors and asked for feedback. He has always been friendly and easy-going. For the first few times, I did not even know that he was the main guy behind this. I thought he was the cook, who had a bit of idle time to chat with customers.

Move to Market at the Right Time

He opened his own deli, when the buzz started build about him and his dish. By that time, he had developed a level of recognition and support from the local community. In addition, he was featured in a few newspapers and magazines.

Stay True to Your Core Business

His deli shop continues to offer his great dish as the signature food. He carefully expanded his menu but kept it small. He continues to offer excellent and friendly service and comes out of the kitchen to chat with customers.

In case you are wondering, I am talking about Caplansky’s Deli (http://caplanskys.com) in the Little Italy neighborhood in Toronto. But, that’s not the point. The point is that Zane, the owner, did everything right in the book of product development. A lesson to learn from a local guy.

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