Franchisee: Peter Katz, 52
Franchise: The Counter, a build-your-own burger chain with 18 locations in the U.S., Australia and Ireland
Number of franchises: Four in Northern California owned by Katz and partners
Before franchising, Peter Katz: Worked in the software industry for 20 years and ran sales and marketing for a number of companies and startups
Why he chose The Counter: Most other franchises seemed formulaic and prefabricated and didn't offer anything unique to customers. "[But] I saw a lot of myself in The Counter," says Katz, who became the restaurant's first franchisee. "I believed in the concept. I believed it was different."
Startup costs: $700,000 to $1 million per unit for new store openings, plus the cost of Northern California territory rights
Financed with: Personal contributions, SBA loans, private investors and partners
Biggest startup mistake: "We let other supposedly more experienced people tell us what to do," Katz says, "even when it was against our instincts."
Gives back by: Mentoring new franchisees
Future plans: Opening locations in Corte Madera, Calif., this year, and Sunnyvale, Calif., by early next year
Sales: More than $10 million projected for this year
A few of Katz's favorite things: Winter sports, backpacking, travel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and his DVR
Favorite burger at The Counter: Two-thirds-pound beef burger (medium rare), with blue cheese, pepperoncinis, dried cranberries, honey-cured bacon, avocado and barbecue sauce, on a plain bun
Entrepreneurial icons: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's
What helps him unwind: Enjoying a glass of añejo tequila and a cigar with his wife, Jennifer