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Cool Factor

One taste of gelato wasn't enough--so this entrepreneur bought the business.

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By Tracy Stapp Herold

When Deven Tanna decided to start a business, the natural choice would have been something that complemented his consulting background. But one day while he was at a mall with his wife, he saw Melt. The shop, which serves gelatos, crepes, coffee and smoothies, lures customers with its mouthwatering displays: mounds of colorful gelato decorated with fruit, candy and other toppings. Although he initially had no intention of opening a dessert franchise, Tanna was instantly hooked by the attractive and unique store display. "There's always a little bit of nervousness when you do something you aren't [familiar with]," says Tanna, 39. But he knew that all the things he loved as a Melt customer, he would love as a franchisee as well.

The first lesson Tanna learned as a franchisee is that success often requires sacrifice. When Melt offered him a location in a new mall in San Francisco, he jumped at the opportunity, moving away from his family in Los Angeles. He purchased the franchise with two college friends, Suhail Zain and Surinder Bhalla, 41 and 40, respectively. "I want to understand the business firsthand," says Tanna, who currently runs the store. "To learn from it, you've got to immerse yourself in it."

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