A 23-year-old Steven Marks believed that he couldn’t ask for more when he landed a job on Wall Street. He had a much-coveted position as a part of the legendary Steven Cohen’s team, and his career just grew from there. However, upon reaching 30, his fire had run out and all he wanted was to start a new life. So he packed his bags and purchased a one-way ticket to Australia.
Seventeen years later, he is now the CEO and co-founder of the widely successful Mexican dining chain Guzman y Gomez. Since he launched his business in 2006, the chain has now grown to a total of 115 locations all over Singapore, Japan, and the place where it all started, Australia.
Funnily enough, the whole business was actually discovered by accident. Marks was initially planning to put up a beachside hotel. However, he suddenly thought about how he missed having good Mexican food and how there was a lack of it in Australia.
So, gathering his savings, he brought in staff from the best Latin American restaurants and even chefs all the way from Mexico and got to work on a plan he believed was fail-proof.
However, things were not as smooth in the beginning. Since Mexican cuisine was not common in Australia, they had to try a lot harder to appeal to the customers’ palette. But soon enough, they broke through the Sydney market and grew even bigger from there.
Marks decided to focus on the chain’s newfound popularity in Sydney first instead of immediately widening the business. Through this approach, investors were reeled in and loved the brand.
This opportunity and experience to work with different investors allowed Marks to get to know all these different people more, and he soon became more familiar with who he wanted best to align the brand with.
If he believed that a certain investor does not fit the standard, he refused to work with them and chose to make ends meet on their own.
Three years and six chains later, all Marks’ hard work had paid off when they landed a deal with McDonald’s Australia. Aside from working with a company that shared his vision and passion, which is a major priority, it also helped immensely as the Mexican brand expanded locally and internationally.
After ten years, Marks is now thinking about going back to his roots and opening the first restaurant in North America, a dream which will be made a reality in Chicago early this year. What also makes this homecoming so special is that these chains will be drive-thru as it aims to compete with the likes of Taco Bell and Chipotle.
Marks’ story just proves that with enough determination and perseverance, even your wildest dreams are possible. All you need is to believe in your vision and follow your passion. Because once your heart is in what you do, you will hardly go wrong.