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3 lessons on minimizing risk from David Segal, founder of DAVIDsTEA

Written by Ross Dias


A healthy dose of risk is involved in the execution of well-planned businesses, and David Segal, founder of DAVIDsTEA, knows a thing or two about facing risks head-on. Since leaving DAVIDsTEA, Segal has carried his knowledge through to his new venture Mad Radish, a healthy fast-food chain that serves decked-out salads, grain bowls and seasonal soups.

Here, 3 lessons on how to minimize risk as an entrepreneur. 

Ask yourself, "Is this something the world needs?"

I always ask myself with new ventures (and this goes for investments as well) if this is something the world needs. Is this something Canadians need? That’s a critical question. What you’re doing has to have value for society. I also like to ask myself: Is this something I can bring to life? I’m a brand guy. I like to build companies that have personalities and have a strong purpose. If it’s a versatile product there should be many ways to get creative about delivering the product to market and getting people excited.

Fast food should no longer be a dirty word by the time Mad Radish is done with it.

Be clear in your vision.

At Mad Radish, we realized that there are too many food deserts in this country. There’s a limited amount of accessible healthy food that actually tastes good. The latter part is very important. You drive through highway 401, and your only options are Wendy’s or McDonald’s. Outside a few places in the major urban centres, there really isn’t much other than standard fast food, which really isn’t that great for you. There is a misconception that only the people that live in downtown urban centres care about their diet; I think that’s a big myth, and we're trying to change that. That's our vision. I was driving through Barrie, Ontario, the other day and on the outskirts of the town, there is an Arby’s, Harvey’s and Burger King on one intersection. That’s 10 million dollars worth of hamburger businesses on one intersection. 


Have a great concept and hire the right people. 

The best way to minimize risk is to start with a great concept; one that the world needs. And then, it's all about having a great team. That's been my focus at Mad Radish. From bringing in Stephanie Howarth from the marketing division at DAVIDsTEA to The Chase's Chef Nigel Finley, and Adam Tomczyk, who worked at the London office of English sandwich-and-coffee hotspot Pret-a-Manger. As a CEO or a founder of a company, you are in the business of building a phenomenal culture where talented and like-minded people want to work and build something special together. You need to get the smartest, most creative, flexible, and adaptable people that you can find in the market. It's the only way to be able to scale a business. When you run up against road-blocks, the capabilities of your team will be the difference between getting over those road blocks or stagnating the company.