What led you to start your own business?
When I was in college at USC, I ran a restaurant called Paladar Underground and loved the experience. I also come from a family that has all been entrepreneurs, so business has been taught to me since I was a child. I co-founded Kronfli Bros. in 2009 with my brother Daniel, 32, and our friend Lior Hillel, 34.
ROBERT KRONFLI, 28
Kronfli Bros., owner of local restaurants Bacari PDR, Bacaro L.A., and Nature’s Brew.
Revenue: Approximately $4.5 million in 2015
Where did you get the startup money?
No outside private funding. It came from savings, including my Paladar earnings, as well as a bit more funds raised from family.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Wow, where do I start? The biggest challenge is maintaining and attracting highly skilled and highly motivated staff to supplement the growth trajectory we always want to be on. It is a big challenge to find good people quick enough.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
It’s tough to just talk about one. But one thing that stands out is to always trust my gut instinct about a person or opportunity. Every time I have gone against my initial gut reaction, the relationship or opportunity has always brought back less than ideal results. Sometimes I feel like my gut makes better decisions than my brain.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Usually I’m at the office by 8 a.m., and at one of the restaurants until 8 p.m. or so – so 10 hours minimum usually, sometimes 12, sometimes more.
Has your youth led to any awkward situations, such as when you supervise employees who are older than you?
This was actually something that was difficult for me to overcome in my beginning years, especially right out of college, when I was managing and directing people twice my age. I felt awkward about it. But at this point, I have completely gotten over it, and have realized age has nothing to do with any of it, only experience and knowledge. Anybody who discriminates or acts only on age is not a person I want to deal with. Experience and drive is the most valuable.
Would you start another company?
Of course. We are very driven and entrepreneurial here at the company, and we jump on any type of opportunity that presents itself. Eventually, we want to expand into hotels, bars, and other aspects of the hospitality industry.
Could you ever work for someone else?
No way. Not at this point. My ideas are for me, not for anyone else.
What do you do to unwind?
Play a lot of basketball and tennis. Always great to get frustrations and stress out with physical and competitive sport.
— Olga Grigoryants
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