His Company Is Growing 300 Percent a Year -- Because He Took Jobs He Wasn't Fully Prepared For
It was supposed to be a simple job: The legendary Los Angeles-based grocery and liquor delivery company Pink Dot had a solid business, but it had an aging customer base and a raft of competitors, and it wanted new branding as a way to attract younger customers. It hired Raphael Farasat for the job, and at first, he thought it would be straightforward -- a new website, new logo, maybe some odds and ends.
But the job would end up redefining Farasat’s career, and that of his company, Truffl. Some jobs have the potential to do that -- so long as an entrepreneur is able to see bigger opportunities, then step up to do whatever needs to be done to meet them.
It all began when Farasat noticed some big problems: Pink Dot didn’t have an app of its own, its menu had barely changed in years and many of its customers were still placing orders through an 800 number. “We realized that changing your logo is not going to transform your business,” Farasat says. “There are a lot of things that needed to change -- operationally, technologically, product-wise. We needed to change the whole relationship between Pink Dot’s customers and the company.”
The problem was: That wasn’t Farasat’s business. Would Pink Dot trust him to do this? Did he even know how to? He didn’t, but he knew he was game for it, because he’d built his business by redefining himself on the spot.
In 2014, when he was 25 years old, Farasat first launched Truffl as a “members club for influencers.” In short, he staged innovative dining events -- pairing, say, a director and a chef for a meal inspired by the director’s new film. Soon an executive at the TV network FX asked if Farasat did branded events for companies. “I hadn’t,” says Farasat. “But I said, ‘Yeah, we’re great at it!’ ” He learned what he needed to learn, did three events for FX, and then, once word got around, launched events for Tesla and Spotify. Like that, Truffl was a creative agency.
After this, companies began asking Farasat if he did branding work. By this point he’d realized the value of taking on jobs that went beyond his expertise -- jobs that challenged him, forced him to learn new skills, and revealed opportunities he didn’t know to look for. “Sometimes I pick a project that might not be a big moneymaker but will teach me a skill I want to learn,” he says today. So he took those jobs, repositioning Truffl again, this time as a branding agency that specialized in the younger market.
That was how Pink Dot came to him. Now, as he looked over Pink Dot’s business, he was seeing a chance to redefine Truffl yet again -- this time as a full-service consultancy. He pitched the client on a complete overhaul -- and though it took some convincing, Pink Dot eventually agreed to it. Farasat then hired several full-time staffers to handle the work and, together with Pink Dot’s internal team, launched an updated website, an app and a new menu -- cutting 80 percent of the existing food options and subbing in fetishized products like Halo Top ice cream and craft cocktail kits for between two and 100 people.
“It’s been so hard,” he says. “I got to a point that I was really stressed.” But he kept pushing, kept learning and kept refining Truffl. The client was happy, and so was Farasat. More clients followed, looking for the same service. “It changed our whole business, moving to this model,” he says. “Now it’s all we do.”
Truffl has eight full-time staffers, and growth is up 300 percent year over year. Will he stay with this business model permanently? Who can say. But he learned a lesson that will last regardless of what the future holds: Seize every chance to learn and grow, pivot when the market tells you to pivot, and always be alert for what problems you can solve. “It’s really exciting,” he says.