Build Something People Want


Founders Corner

From Top Left to Bottom Right: Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood), Juan Mari and Elena Arzak (Arzak), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Corey Lee (Benu), Daniel Boulud (DANIEL), Albert Adria (Tickets), Tom Colicchio (Craft), Michael Voltaggio (Ink), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn).

Those who know me, know that I’m passionate about food and restaurants. I’m one of those people that is so into food that I am offended by being called a “foodie” because the term is tossed around so loosely these days that anyone with a Yelp account thinks they’re a foodie. I have the deepest respect for great chefs for both their artistry and their entrepreneurial drive. We are all part of the same fellowship of startup founders that take the risk to build a business to make people happy. Whether it’s creating a life-changing app or service or it’s conceiving a mind-blowing amuse bouche to start off a memorable meal, we all aspire to deliver a product that people want or need.

Product-market fit happens when you build something people want.

Will (right) cooking alongside Pared investor Thomas Keller at Per Se in New York in 2004.

Last year my friend Will wanted to talk about a business idea he had been thinking about while running his chain of fast casual restaurants. I had met Will years ago through a mutual friend because I was a fanboy of Thomas Keller and Will was a chef at both Per Se and The French Laundry. He was part of a community I had started for founders and reached out to see if I knew anyone who might be interested in working on this idea with him. Once I heard the idea, I knew the perfect person for Will to partner with: me.

We are all part of the same fellowship of startup founders that take the risk to build a business to make people happy.

In the fall, we raised some seed money and launched Pared. It was a brand new service to solve the pain of staffing in the restaurant industry in a way that had never been done before. Headlines lamenting the shortage of cooks in restaurant kitchens have been popping up around the world for a few years now. Many companies are focusing on the top of the funnel and building Craigslist alternatives. We’re approaching the problem differently. Using technology to create an efficient marketplace of labor supply and restaurant demand, we’ve started to fill in the staffing gaps for many restaurants in San Francisco. Our mission was to make restaurant life easier for both sides.

Since starting the company we’ve been helping some of my favorite restaurants including Lazy Bear, The Slanted Door, Delfina Pizzeria, Locanda, Petit Crenn, Little Gem and many more. It’s been so rewarding to be able to save the day for people whose food and craft I have admired for years. There’s nothing better than hearing chefs and restaurateurs say things like “You’ve saved my ass time and time again!” and “I don’t know what I would have done without you!” because it means we’re building something people want and need. We’re allowing restaurants to focus on growing their business instead of wasting time being staffing agencies.

Chef Dave Cruz of Little Gem (a Pared client) and I at Ad Hoc, one of my favorite restaurants in Yountville, CA in 2010.

Another reason I was passionate about starting Pared is because I wanted to improve life for people who have been chronically underpaid and overworked. The restaurant industry is struggling with some major issues such as labor shortages, rising food and labor costs, tipping and more. Pared is trying to create a new way to work smarter while providing higher wages and more flexibility for workers. Having interviewed a dozen workers on our platform, I’ve heard things from “You guys are a lifesaver!” and “Without you I’d have to take on a second job or drive for Uber.” What we’re building is actually impacting people’s lives and they’re relying on us. There’s nothing more rewarding in any vocation than hearing the gratitude of the people you serve.

The restaurant industry is at a challenging crossroads and something has to change. I am fortunate enough to be working on a solution for an industry that I’m so passionate about. It makes going to work each day a pleasure because I actually love what I’m doing. I get to work on solving a huge problem that positively impacts the lives of a lot of people. If you don’t find any joy in your work, you’re probably in the wrong job. Don’t wait for the right job to come to you, find a big problem in a space that excites you and try to solve it.

There’s nothing more rewarding in any vocation than hearing the gratitude of the people you serve.

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