Hanson Li // Ep 15 // SALT Partners Group, Founder, Managing Partner

Welcome to Episode 15 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Hanson Li on this week's episode.

We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Check us out on Anchor, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Spotify and more. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a positive 5-star review. This is our opportunity to use the voices of the Asian community and share these incredible stories with the world. We release a new episode every Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Our portfolio includes Crenn Dining Group (Atelier Crenn – Michelin 3-Star, Petit Crenn, Bar Crenn – Michelin 1-Star), Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, LocoL, Saison, High-Proof (a SF based bar group that opened Horsefeather and Last Rites), Brown Sugar Kitchen, and Saison Cellar. Hanson also manages an investment fund called Salt Capital.

Hanson Li is the founder of Salt Partners Group and a Stanford alumni.  Salt Partners Group is a development and investment company focused on the food and beverage industry. We take an active role in creating and managing exceptional food concepts and companies.

Please check out our Patreon at @asianhustlenetwork. We want AHN to continue to be meaningful and give back to the Asian community. If you enjoy our podcast and would like to contribute to our future, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron.
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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey guys! Welcome to the Asian Hustle Network podcast. My name is Bryan. And my name is Maggie. And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: [00:00:24] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. My name is Maggie.

Bryan: [00:00:28] My name is Bryan.

Maggie: [00:00:29] And today we have a very special guest with us. His name is Hanson Li, and he is the founder and managing partner of Salt Partners Group, which is a development and investment company focused on the food and beverage industry. And their portfolio includes the Crenn Dining Group, which includes Atelier Crenn, Petit Crenn, Bar Crenn, as well as Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream, LocoL, Saison, High-Proof  and Brown Sugar Kitchen. Hanson, welcome to the show. Yeah. Yeah. Well, we would love to jump right ahead and, we’d love to know, you know, how was your upbringing like and what kind of family did you grow up in? Where were you born?

Hanson: [00:01:10] Sure. Sure. No, thank you for having me, Maggie and Bryan. I was born in Hong Kong, and you know, the Li side of my family, my dad’s side of the family has been in Hong Kong for many generations. And my mom was born in China, and then her and her family escape from China during the cultural revolution in the fifties and land in Hong Kong.

So, you know, I was born in, you know, a small family in Hong Kong. And then when they went to local schools and when I was nine years old, my immediate family moved to Taiwan for a job opportunity for my dad. So we live in Taiwan for three years. And so I speak Mandarin as well, as well as Cantonese.

I thank the television station in Taiwan for teaching me really good Mandarin. And then age 12, we moved to the US for the first time. So my dad worked for Kodak for 30 years. And now, unfortunately, a defunct American company. But you know, Kodak, transferred my family over to here to the US.

And so, we moved to the US for the first time when I was 12 years old. I still remember it vividly. It was December. It was, I was in the middle of middle school, only in Asia right up until I want us to age 12. I still remember flying into Detroit. The plane landed and it was like 4:00 PM.

And it was dark. What the hell is going on was dark already. He’s only 4:00 PM. And in Rochester, New York, it’s near, you know, as on Lake Ontario, across from Toronto. So it was cold. So, we’d landed and we got to go to Rochester. I’ve never experienced cold, even snow actually. So it was my first time seeing snow.

And so you know, went to a local middle school, but just for one year. And then we left and we moved to Malaysia. Wow. so every time we moved was halfway across the world. From Taiwan to New York, New York to Malaysia. And Malaysia was a fun time kind of being there. I was, you know, last year of middle school, first two years of high school, I went to an international school, which is an interesting setting.

The kids there like me, you know, was part of a family. A lot of embassies. Just as well. I guess it’s a sign of times how things have changed. You know, one of my best friends’ dad, work at the American embassy and I always, I used to, I would use to go to the American embassy to play tennis with her.

Like I’m not an American citizen. Right. But I was able to just walk into compounds if you will. I don’t think we can do that now anymore. And then, after two and a half years in Malaysia, we moved back to New York again, where I finished high school and I’ve been in the US ever since. So in terms of, you know, kind of before college, right?

It was mostly in Asia with a couple of years in the US kind of back and forth. So, you know, I am very Asian in that I grew up in Asia. I’m Chinese. But you know, most of my adult life I’ve been in the US.

Bryan: [00:04:11] Wow. That’s absolutely amazing. I’m just kind of curious too, like, what was your identity like switching back and forth so frequently.

Yeah. How did that affect you? Making new friends, learning new cultures, assimilating to American culture continually.

Hanson: [00:04:27] Yeah, I think, you know, I’m sure it was hard at the moment. But I think coming out of it is I feel very comfortable with a lot of different situations and walking into a room and because I think I had to face that, moving from Asia to not even a big city in America, right. Into a small city in America. And you know, my English wasn’t terribly good when I came here to the US and so I think it forced me to, you know, to really adapt, and to be fluid about, you know, going from, you know, the suburb of a small city in America, right.

And then going and moving to an international high school in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I think that has helped me along the way. Right. In terms of being able to relate to all sorts of people. Fairly easily. I’m keeping my mind open, right, with a lot of different perspectives. And I think, you know, having been able to grow up in all these different countries, you know, really allow me to see just different personalities, different nationalities, right?

And the commonality of it all. And I think it’s really helped, like in terms of my career and being open to things.

Bryan: [00:05:45] That’s really cool. And it’s really unique here. Cause I think that some of these experiences that only you need to yourself sitting here trying to imagine, like, what was it like growing up as Hanson, you know? Kind of curious what was your parents’ emphasis on education?

Because obviously, you’re extremely smart. You know you went to Stanford for undergrad. Got your master’s there and you got an MBA, all at Stanford, you know. What was the emphasis of education in your family like.

Maggie: [00:06:10] And on top of that, you know, what were your parents doing? And did they have like a set plan for you?

Like, did they want you to go through a certain route?

Hanson: [00:06:18] No. My parents were very lazy fair. Right. And that way they were very American. Enough for typically Chinese. My dad was in, you know, worked for an American corporation for, you know, most of his career. My mom was a high school teacher in Hong Kong.

And then after we left Hong Kong, she was a stay at home mom. You know, I think. I never had any pressure in terms of the, you know, certain career. The only thing that I think the only time my father suggested something to me was like, you should look into like material science, right? This was like in the early nineties, right?

Like semiconductors and, you know, I’m not, I never had an interest, eh, you know, So that quickly pass. Right. I ended up marrying a material science engineer.

And you know, I mean, you know, economics certainly was important. Right. But it was never pressured. And you know, they didn’t have a prescribed, you know, you need to go to this college. It was never a say you have to go to medical school or, you know, be a professional. So they were very supportive.

Right. And without, you know, they didn’t. They support it without giving specifics. And so, yeah, so I’ve, you know, I try to do, I have two kids now, a 12-year-old, and an 11-year-old and, you know, yeah. I tried to be the same to them right. In terms of guiding. Right. But without, you know, without telling them my being, giving them a the end.

Bryan: [00:07:55] Maybe we actually love that to you, that your parents are so laissez-faire about things. I can honestly say my parents were too. They just, like, they told me, just do what makes you happy as long as you feed yourself, that’s a minimum criteria.

Really? I think us like not having to be pressured to a certain mode or a certain feel really gave us a lot of creativity to like, become the person that we should become. And that kind of links back to a lot of issues with Asian students, like in the Western culture who are facing mental health, because they have not been able to express themselves freely. And it’s really great that your parents are really laissez-faire about raising you.

We want to dive deeper into like more of, we’re more of a fault, you know? Like we understood that it took you about 10 years when you got started. And this is something that you formulated back while you were at Stanford.

And you’re like, what if we work together with creatives and restaurant owners to really blow their business up, meaning that’s a fantastic idea by the way, contrary to all the naysayers. And we’re super glad you…

Hanson: [00:09:16] Sure. so I started Salt in 2014 after really thinking about kind of what we want, what I want to do for the rest of my career. Right. And I started with writing a business plan. I knew I wanted to do something in food where my passion lies. And you know, and the name of Salt, right, really match in terms of kind of my starting hypothesis right out of business I want to build.

 You know, Salt with the business partner to a bunch of great chefs and bartenders and brands in the food space. And, you know, it was a very conscientious choice on the word salt, right in that salt is a very important ingredient in cooking. As we all know. A great piece of steak doesn’t taste good without salt, but it’s never named as an ingredient on a menu. And that’s how we see our role. So far was working with our portfolio companies is that we are in the background, making sure that the business runs well, that the business is sustainable, it’s successful.

We plan, we strategize and to bill, you know, a business that requires both to create a part. And also the sustainable business part. And so that’s what we do as Salt. And it also happens that I love the Chinese character for salts, which I think is a beautiful word and is our logo. And yeah, so it does a little bit of the history of how, you know, Salt came to be.

Bryan: [00:10:38] Yeah. We love that. The history too. And we love the support mindset that you guys have. Right that you had moving forward with this company. I mean, that’s the exact same way that how we feel the Asian Hustle Network you know? You asking me the salt, what happened to be the sugar?

Hanson: [00:10:55] Right. And, you know, as you know, as I’ve now done this for five years, right. And you know, we have some great partnerships with like chef Dominique Crenn, with the ice cream brand Humphrey Slocombe. And you know, I think, you know, I’ve been thinking about kind of mix five years, right. In terms of where we go as Salt.

And over the last five years, we’ve opened a dozen restaurants and have been involved with. You know, ice cream shop all the way to Michelin three-star restaurants. So we know a lot, right. As our team has been involved with operations and opening up these restaurants, we know a lot now and, you know, we’re in the plans of, you know, trying to figure out something to do on our own and creating our own concepts.

So yeah, to be seen in terms of how you know, and this pandemic is, you know, looking back at my career, I was in tech during the internet bubble. I was in finance in 2009. And now I’m in the restaurant business right in COVID. So this was three black swans in my career already. And, yeah. So I’m going to take this opportunity to create something new as well.

Nothing like a little pandemic to start a new company.

Bryan: [00:12:05] Yeah, that’s good.

Maggie: [00:12:07] Oh, I was just going to say, well, we love that mindset, you know, and that’s all it takes to become successful in this pandemic. And I read this article and it talked about the difference between entrepreneurs and CEOs in this pandemic and the mindset behind those two different entrepreneurs, and you really have to have a positive mindset. CEOs and entrepreneurs who keep using terms like buy an opportunity.

And, you know, positivity. Those are the ones who do really well as opposed to, you know, entrepreneurs who use like panic or Trump or something like that. Those are really key differences. And, you know, we know that you were a part of capital one, and I would love to know. How you were able to make that transition from capital one to go into the food and beverage industry and, you know, Bryan and I, we come across a lot of people who are in the food and beverage industry.

And we hear a lot about how, you know, it’s a really hard industry to get into. The profit margin is very slim and you really have to do things accurately and correctly. If you want to succeed in the restaurant industry and from your perspective, you know, like how were you able to, you know, get into the food and beverage industry and how did you know that you want it to, learn more about it?

Hanson: [00:13:28] Sure. You know, I joined the capital one right after college and worked there for almost four years, as my first job out of college. I loved it. I met my wife there. I still have lifelong friends from capital one and you know, I’ve very fond memories of the place. And then I went into, after capital one, I jumped into a startup, right?

This was 1999, 2000. So during the internet bubble days, and didn’t know, I mean, it was my first startup didn’t know anything, honestly, like was just. I mean, looking back, like I was really dumb, but what we’re trying to build, look, the idea was great. You know, we had an execution problem. And then after that startup, we sold part of it.

And I went to a business school. And this was during the recession, right? 2001, 2002. And it was during that business school time where, you know, I had time to both, you know, obviously business school is great in terms of being exposed to a lot of different things and also having time to really think and reflect. A lot of conversation with other people going through the same thing, right?

The dialogues you end up having. And this is when Salt was really born, right? The idea of Salt. and now I’ve always loved cooking. I love, you know, I love feeding people as feeding people. I was never, you know, I never worked in a real kitchen, you know, at best I was a barista for a couple of weeks, you know, at a coffee place that I opened.

But I’ve always loved it immediate gratification that a good restaurant bar cafe can give to people. Right. And, you know, it was a way to deliver happiness. It sounds very true in ways, but, you know, I get a big kick out of walking into any of my restaurants. Right. And there are dozens and dozens of people who are just a little bit happier, right. Because of what we’re doing. And that’s very fulfilling and I think that’s a common theme, right? If you talk to other people, a lot of people in the food industry, right. It’s it is that little bit is the hospitality that you can give and the happiness that you can create. That really makes it all worthwhile.

You know, you mentioned in terms of the food business, this was being a hard business. it certainly is. I’m not, you know, I, I live and breathe it every day. But I would say that everything is difficult.  I guess it was not. Yeah. Then it becomes difficult as more people start doing it. Right. So I would say that with the restaurant business, there are a lot of inherent and unique challenges in terms of running a restaurant and the food business.

You know, I like to remind myself that, okay, the first rule is actually, you know, making sure that we don’t get people sick. Obviously delivering hospitality, we rely a lot on staff, right? To do, to deliver that hospitality and the food. So there’s a lot of people management. Challenges and opportunities.

But ultimately in terms of, you know, the idea that food is harder than other industries or the margin is thinner than other industries, I would say that everything is hard. And, but everything could be successful also. You know, I’m sure just back and forth, right between the three of us, we can name dozens and dozens of restaurants that are successful.

Right. They don’t have to be all losing money or close within the first year. In terms of your question, Maggie, of how I got into the food business, it was, I just did. Which is not a very satisfying answer. I understand. Again, I did start Salt until, you know, I was almost 40 years old. Right. So after working for many years, and after working in finance for 10 years after business school and before business school, I was in tech.

So, you know, I’d never worked for a food company or a restaurant company. So just. No, I couldn’t, I couldn’t draw, you know, ABCD for you in terms of how I got into food. Yeah, although I do remind you, right. I was very you know, specific and conscientious, right. In terms of developing my own business plan, here’s why I bring certain advantages just or different perspectives to have a chance to be successful in the food business.

And, now I’m not working in the kitchen, I’m not working as a manager in the restaurant. Right. I’m still the business guy. Right. So I’m still using what I, I am really good at. I’m good at investing. I’m good at looking at strategy. I’m good at, you know, working with people. Yeah. And the three things that I just mentioned could be for food, could be for movies, could be for a lot of different things.

Right. And I think this is where the kind of where you find, kind of where your skills and it, how it, you know, it’s intersects with your passion. And I was lucky, right. That I know my passion. I think a lot of people don’t right. And that’s part of the, kind of ongoing challenge, right. of, you know, finding what you’re passionate about.

And then. How do you create that opportunity for it to be a sustainable career? Right. And I was lucky, right. That I’ve found that. Now I also would say that you know, I waited a while. The exact same business plan, 10 years prior may not be as successful. Yeah. Yeah. Also, also knowing a little bit about yourself, right.

In terms of when to take that entrepreneurial risk. I don’t think it’s not necessarily that an entrepreneur needs to be in their twenties. Right. Arguably entrepreneurs in the forties should do better. Right?

Bryan: [00:19:08] We’re watching you. And obviously, you’re a huge honor to us. Yeah, you have a really great reputation around the Bay as well.

I’m extremely happy to like, even talk to you and learn from you right now, is your mindset really appeals to us right now? It’s like, you know, obviously you’re facing a lot of different challenges right now. And the fact is you’re seeing these things as opportunities to do more. No, it’s you reinvent yourself.

It’s actually, it’s actually very refreshing to hear something like that.

Hanson: [00:19:41] You, yeah. I still remember when, when COVID hit. Right. And mid-March now because I have family in Hong Kong, right. So I knew it was coming right. And even though you can see it coming, you never like, you didn’t anticipate that to be like this shock right? Of it being here. And you know, the last two weeks of March, right? It was just this last scrambling about just, okay. I’d like, I remember making an analogy to a friend was like someone set my house on fire and the fire department is not coming. Right. Because someone asked me to close the restaurant. I have to close it.

Yeah. And there was no help. Right? There’s no, Okay, we’ll do this for you, right? There’s nothing afterward. So it was just a lot of scrambling right at that time. And you know, I was very conscientious, right. In terms of working with my team and you know, our restaurants, right, to not think about going back to normal.

I think that’s a support fool’s errand in terms of wanting to go back to what it was before. Because that mindset requires you to look ahead of what the new is going to be, right? And the new normal. And, you know, you can either hope for a return to back, you know, back to normal, or you can define the new normal, right.?

Being more proactive about creating that future. And now it sounds great, you know, I am optimistic and believe in it. And is still really hard, right? Because of so much unknown in the future. And so, you know, I’m still very optimistic that you know, people will still need to eat.

Restaurants are still an important place, right. For all of us, right. For cultural reasons for us Asians or just, you know, as a social enterprise, how it looked like, I don’t know. But you know, I’m hopefully in a position, right. To create some of that future.

Maggie: [00:21:47] Yeah. And speaking of COVID-19 in the restaurant industry, there’s obviously a lot of uncertainty right now.

And, you know, California or at least the Bay area had recently announced that they were closing all of the outdoor dining again. Now that we’re in mid-July, and I’m just curious, you know, there’s a lot of cultures that goes within, you know, eating out. You enter into a restaurant and you see a lot of the heritage and the culture that goes on, you know, you, you get a glimpse of what the owner is trying to portray in their dishes and their decor, in their interior, everything in the restaurant. And I’m curious, you know, from your perspective, how can restaurant owners maintain that culture now that you know, we’re in COVID-19, we’re going back into quarantine and we had a podcast recording with Andrew Chau Boba guys recently. And, you know, he mentioned that, yes, he’s going to have, did you like a drive-by, for Boba guys were just like pick up Boba for like 10 seconds and they go, but there’s also that part where it’s it’s really sad because you know, you spend so much time putting so much, you know, Work into building the interior and portraying that culture and that heritage to your customers, but you aren’t able to do that anymore.

And so I would love to learn from you, you know, how our restaurant owners supposed to be able to maintain that culture within the restaurants now.

Hanson: [00:23:07] It’s funny, you, you, I mean, this is a great question, right? Because I was just, you know, I was at Bar Crenn today, one of my restaurants, right. And a beautiful restaurant.

Right. It makes me sad, right? That you two can’t go there now. Right. And I don’t know when you can go to Bar Crenn. And this goes back to the kind of looked at, you know, wishing you can go back there. Right. And it was just like back to school. Right. and the challenge right. Is okay, how do I still deliver?

What I want to deliver, right. Is a feeling right? Of Bar Crenn. Or how for Slocombe Ice Cream or, you know, for Andrew, for Boba Guys, right? How do I still do the list or that brand, hospitality and that feeling to you without you being physically in there. Now, restaurants is unique in that. Yes. You have to, you know, more often than not, you have to be in a space to eat that food.

Right. And within that food is to what you mentioned, Maggie, which is, you know, the environment that the interior and it’s like, is an immersive experience, right? The best dining experience is, you know, includes that element. But I also suggested right. The best eating experience off the time doesn’t require any of that.

Right. It requires your dining companion, right. You guys have been in restaurants where you just got lost in the conversation or you’re in the round table. Right? You don’t see all the stuff, right? You still have a great time. You still have a fond memory, right, of eating at that place, right. In another example, right.

You know, there are plenty of products, you know, the glasses you’re wearing or the shirt you’re wearing, you’re buying it right, as a brand. And that brand is making a promise to you without you having, you know, walk into an awkward store, right. Or that store, but somehow you still have that familiarity and that closest to that brand, even though you might have never been into that store or talk to the owner of that brand.

Right. So the restaurant is a really weird element, right, when I talk about it that way, where like, yeah, you equate Boba guys with Andrew and Bin. Right. But, you know, Equivalently right. You know, find a fashion brand. Right. Do you like, would you talk about those founders, right? The way that you might think about with, you know, Dominique Crenn and the restaurant group, right.

Or, you know, with, you know, Andrew and Bin, right, for Boba guys. It’s a really long answer to your question, Maggie, which is that I almost have to think about, you know, the investment of what we’ve built. Right. And yes, there’ll be a day when restaurants will open again and you can come to Bar Crenn, right.

I’ll come to horsefeather and come to anyone of my restaurants. But in the meantime, right, the challenge, I had. An opportunity ahead, right. If, how do I still deliver a great product, great food to you without you being physically in the space? How do I still have a relationship with you, right? Without you, without you being in this space.

So, you know, And, you know, there are a lot of great restaurants in the Bay area who really excel, right. And to take out food like that, they’ve developed over the last three, four months. Right. And it’s amazing, right? When you know, world-class chefs are a little more thoughtful about, okay, this dish should go into this box and I’m going to cook it this way because it would travel better.

Right. Really basic stuff. But it turns out great. I mean, there’s so much great pick out opportunities right now. So anyhow, it is sad. I won’t lie. Right. In terms of all the efforts that we put into creating that immersive experience. But at the same time, you know, I think there’s still a way for us to build that customer-brand relationship.

Right without the physical space. Yeah.

Bryan: [00:27:10] And I do think like this entire conversation just really, really good points, you know? I think just having the right timing market fit to me, like you said before, you waited 10 years for you to execute this idea. I still want to have our listeners hear that it’s never too late.

You know, you have an idea that you’re kind of thinking about, sit on it for a little bit until you’re ready.

You know, nothing worries about executing a great idea during the wrong time.

Hanson: [00:27:36] Yeah. Yeah. And so I think reading, you know, different entrepreneurial books right. And talking to a lot of entrepreneurs.

Right. You know, I’ve also, you know, listened to like, you know, the, how I built this podcast. Right. Right. There’s no pathway to entrepreneurship. There’s no playbook. I think there are some pretty common themes about the characteristics of the people involved. But. Yeah. I mean, a lot of people just like you did, right.

In terms of asking how I got into food. Right. And like, I’ve tried to come up with like, you know, a more elegant answer. Beautiful answer. But the reality is that no, there’s actually no why of what I did before. That would naturally lead me to, or prepare me for, to go into the food business.

Bryan: [00:28:29] It comes out unexpectedly by the fact that you keep thinking about food and he’s a, it’s, it’s an ongoing passion.

Hanson: [00:28:35] It is, it’s certainly a passion. Right. And I’ve been in [inaudible] at restaurants, right. As a side hustle, right before starting Salt partners. So I have a little bit of understanding, right. And it was what I was, I wasn’t completely blind about getting into the restaurant business. And again, I think a lot of what I learned through my career, you know, managing people, looking at strategy, making database decisions. All those things are relevant, right? No matter what industry you’re in if you’re trying to build a good business.

Bryan: [00:29:06] Yeah. I think he does a really good thing too, because essentially. You’re using your strength to its full potential in your party, over people that fit your passion, that something that you, that, you know, perhaps you’re lacking, like, yeah, you don’t have the ability to cook.

You know you don’t know in announced the like seasoning and the restaurant stuff, you know, the business side of things. And because you’re so comfortable that side and you still want to pursue your passion, you made it work, you know.

Hanson: [00:29:34] We’ll try to make it work. I tried to make it work. I was talking to someone who was graduating from business school this year.

it was like March or April and he was interested to get into the food business. Right. And. You know, like the middle of April, I was like, I was a beat-down man. And, you know, I told him like, he knows he, at that time he knew as much about the food business society. Right. Because everything that I’ve known, it was just different.

Yeah, kind of have to relearn everything. But this is also where, you know, you have a lot of reps, right? You’ve seen the movie you’ve seen patterns like before, and you know, hopefully, you know, I have seen a pattern is right. That we can, you know, draw a new path out of this.

Maggie: [00:30:21] Yeah, definitely. And you know, going back to what you originally said, you have no experience in the restaurant industry.

I think that goes for a lot of Asian parents as well when they hear of their children wanting to go into a certain industry. Like, for example, if I want to tell my parents, I want to go to a restaurant, go into the restaurant industry. They would tell me why, like you, you are a professional chef. Why, you know, nothing about running a restaurant?

Like, why would you want to do that? Or let’s say, I wanted to go into apparel, they would say, Oh, can you even make money that way? Like, they would think you’re like selling clothes out of like the fashion district or something. Right. But I think everything that you said was very accurate, you know, as long as you have good business acumen, as long as you are strategic, as long as you are innovative, you know, you can succeed and do really well in any industry, regardless of what it is, as long as you are smart about it, and you are very strategic. And so I would love to know, you know, what would be your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur who is trying to get into the restaurant industry, whether that be, you know, opening a restaurant or purchasing a restaurant or going into investing in restaurants.

Hanson: [00:31:34] Just be very thoughtful. I think, for me is, I liked using the word thoughtful because then it is like knowing the risks that you’re getting into. Right. And being real about it. Yeah. And yes, have optimism and hopefulness. I think that’s required to be an entrepreneur, but I think also the right, the other side of the same coin, right, is to be realistic.

Right. And to be calculating is too strong of a word. Right. But you know, good entrepreneurs know when to fold. Right. They know when to pivot change. And I think that for anyone who’s going into the restaurant business, right, is a willingness right, to have that kind of paying into going back and forth on a river.

It was never straight in those in those in the past. The restaurant industry is a very people-intensive industry. So, you know, if one is, you know, if you actually, you want to open a restaurant or buy a restaurant, you have to be prepared right, to really like working with people, like, be honest with yourself, right, that you actually like working with people and working with people in an office setting. Right. It’s very different. Right. And those are working in an environment where like, alright, we need to produce something like right this minute, Right. There are no emails back and forth. Right? You have to get that dish out.

You have to serve that customer that is sent in front of you. And that creates a lot of stress and angst. And I think unless you really work in a restaurant setting or a setting like that, right. You don’t know how intense it could be. Right. It’s like, it’s like having, you know, working with, you know, your managers or your employees.

It’s similar to having like many many different personal relationship, right? Not exactly, you know, in terms of like a, you know, like a boyfriend, girlfriend relationship. Right. But it is intense. Right. You’re making a lot of decisions together all the time. And so I would suggest anyone holding against the restaurant business.

Right. Ask deep in yourself. Right? How do I feel about working with a lot of different people intensely all day long? Right. Everything else in terms of, you know, the profit margin and all that, you know, back to my point earlier, right. Is everything is kind of hard. Everything we cut, everything requires work.

There’s no, you know, there’s no easy pot of gold under the rainbow. In a restaurant, it’s just a people intensive business. you don’t get your weekends. You don’t get your nights, you don’t get your holidays. Right. So it’s just also eyes wide open, right? That’s fine. That’s part of your life. But you know, it is rewarding, right?

That little dose of happiness I mentioned. Right. In terms of seeing your customers happy. Right.

Maggie: [00:34:48] Love it. That’s very sound advice. I think that goes for every entrepreneur in any industry that, you know, as long as you have grit and, you know, you have that dedication, determination, you can make it.

Hanson: [00:35:00] Yeah. And the self-awareness, right?

Again, just the self-awareness that, and grit comes admitted to forms, right. you know, like a, engineering, you know, coding through to the net, right? It’s a different type of grit than dealing with like 30 screaming customers is the same type of like, you know, right. But it’s very different. Right?

What, which type do you want, right. That you can bear with. Right. So having that self-awareness, I think is very important right? Before you turn me into either a restaurant or any other entrepreneurial endeavor. Yeah. Yeah, it is actually to know enough. That is actually what I am willing to endure.


Maggie: [00:35:42] Yeah. Perfect. Well, thank you so much. And that’s when we are at the top of the hour, but I would love to have you tell our listeners where we can find more about you and your company Salt.

Hanson: [00:35:54] Sure. I actually have a website, it took me a while to create one, my website, saltspg.com. You can find kind of all of our portfolio companies.

And yeah. And, you know, thank you so much, Maggie and Bryan, you guys are doing great work at Asian. I love reading. I’m so appreciative of everyone telling their story. Like there are so many good writers about telling their own story is amazing in terms of just the interesting story, but also how well thought out.

So thank you so much for having me.

Maggie: [00:36:30] Yeah. Thank you so much to me in the show. I appreciate it. Thank you, Hanson.

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