Alex Brandwein is the owner and founder of Brandwein’s Bagels, an authentic New York-Style Bagel Shop located in Chapel Hill, NC. In this interview Alex tells the story of how a “breaking point” in his finance career led him to make the big life change to become an entrepreneur, and ultimately open a bagel shop while he was in grad school at the University of North Carolina. He also shares where the initial insight to open a college bagel shop came from, how a fortuitous meeting with an early mentor led to his first pop-up and eventual storefront lease, and why hiring an executive coach has helped him become a better leader and communicator. Alex’s story is inspiring for anyone looking to make a drastic career and life change, and his success shows it’s possible with the right planning, passion, and persistence to make your dream a reality.
Where to find Brandwein’s Bagels:
Where to find Alex:
Where to find Bryan:
Where to find Kitava:
In this episode, we cover:
- (02:57) Alex’s professional “breaking point” before founding Brandwein’s Bagels
- (03:59) How the desire to start a food business came from a gap Alex saw in the market for bagels while in his MBA program
- (07:08) The three questions he set out to answer before starting his bagel shop
- Do other people want this?
- How do you actually do it (and do I like it)?
- Does it make financial sense?
- (09:38) A fortuitous meeting that led to Alex’s first bagel pop-up, which eventually led to his permanent location
- (12:58) When Alex formalized the business, and how he funded it
- (17:38) At what point Brandwein’s Bagels hired a Head Chef
- (19:18) The number of bagels Alex knew he had to sell per day to make the business work
- (22:03) How Alex thought about paying himself
- (24:38) Why seeking help from a life coach was a crucial step in helping Alex make his career transition into food entrepreneurship
- (26:23) How hiring an executive coach has helped Alex improve as a leader and business owner
- (29:28) The biggest lesson Alex has learned from his executive coach
- (32:21) What did success look like initially, and how is Alex currently thinking about growth for Brandwein’s Bagels today?
- (35:18) “Our number one priority is to make sure the day goes”
- (43:18) Biggest lessons learned