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Learning From College-Age Franchise Owners

Winging It

Another franchise that welcomes the college-aged set actually originated from that demographic. Wing Zone, a takeout and delivery Buffalo wing chain, was started in the fraternity house kitchen of founders Matthew Friedman and Adam Scott. When he first arrived at the University of Florida in Gainesville, native New Yorker Friedman loved everything about the region but noticed one omission-Buffalo wings were nowhere to be found. "I felt chicken wings and college students were a perfect match, so I came up with a takeout and delivery restaurant primarily based around college markets," Friedman says.

Friedman, now 33, and Scott, now 31, got permission from their fraternity to use the house kitchen at night, installed a separate phone line, and began handing out menus around campus. For six weeks, the pair tested their concept and quickly realized they had hit on something. Says Friedman, "We were very fortunate to have immediate success for a lot of reasons. We were definitely undercapitalized and needed to do business right off the bat in order to pay bills."

As word spread, it became obvious the fraternity kitchen could no longer contain Wing Zone, so in 1993, with profits from the business and loans from their parents, Friedman and Scott opened the doors to their first restaurant. They also earned business degrees. Today, the company has more than 70 locations.

Though they faced challenges in starting the business, and Friedman and Scott's grades and personal lives may have suffered in the process, they believe college was the right time to take the leap. "Being young and starting a business, you don't have the pressures you do when you get older. You can survive a financial fall," Friedman explains. "If we had failed back in 1993, we would have recovered without a problem."

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