He Started One of the Original Froyo Brands 14 Years Ago. He's Still Serving Up Fresh Concepts.

Phillip Chang made Yogurtland a smash success, and now he's funneling his knowledge into other brands.

learn more about Madeline Garfinkle

By Madeline Garfinkle

Courtesy of Yogurtland

This story appears in the March 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

How can a brand expand?

Phillip Chang has wrestled with this question many times — like in 2004, when his bubble tea franchise, Boba Loca, hit a wall. "I couldn't solve the problem by just adding another drink," he says. "I wanted something more, something bigger." So he created Yogurtland, a self-serve frozen yogurt brand that sparked an international craze (and many copycats).

Seventeen years later, Yogurtland is still going strong — no small feat in the ever-changing food world. And Chang is ready to expand again. Over the past two years, he's introduced two new concepts within the Yogurtland brand: Holsom by Yogurtland — a fast-casual, healthy meal joint — and Egg N Bird, which specializes in a Korean chicken sandwich (and doesn't use the Yogurtland branding). Here, Chang discusses the art of innovation, diversification, and gaining a competitive edge.

Related: How to Tackle the 5 Challenges Every Expanding Business Faces

You approach expansion very carefully. Tell me about that.

I do not like expansion for no reason. My philosophy is: Why am I doing this business and what's the end goal? That has to be very formed. Without that, everybody is just chasing money. If you don't have your own philosophy or a good foundation of who you are, it's nothing. Identity is so critical. You have to start from there.

So where did the Holsom and Egg N Bird concepts come from?

Before we expanded, I wanted to build strong roots with Yogurtland. Doing that gave us lots of great ideas. I thought, How can we make it better?

We started with quality. That's how I came up with Holsom. It's very light and nutritional food. But with Holsom, there is still a connection to yogurt. I wanted to go beyond that — explore a real meal. So for Egg N Bird we did lots of research to ask, What is the demand out there?

The beef market is huge, but I thought people maybe missed the chicken opportunity, and chicken is a healthier option. I'm Korean, and there are lots of chicken restaurants in Korea. I knew how they served the chicken, and so with our amazing team, we put together the demand for our market and came up with this amazing chicken sandwich.

Related: 15 Strategies for Quickly Expanding Your Business

How do you think innovation and continual diversification have contributed to the success of your brands?

In the restaurant industry, we think of trends in terms of cycles. There's challenging times, but one thing that never changes is that a top brand can win in any kind of cycle.

With Yogurtland, frozen yogurt consumption is constantly going up and down, but we have such great quality that we continue to thrive. We are taking over a big portion of the ice cream market.

The same thing is true with Holsom and Egg N Bird. When we have top quality and provide worth to our customers, we can dominate the market.

What advice do you have for business owners going through a not-so-great sales cycle? How do you stay motivated in times when it's not the best?

All entrepreneurs should have their own philosophy and beliefs — an identity, and a clear idea of who you are. What do you want to achieve out of this?

Always try to look at the whole picture. When a leader is so into little operations, they miss big trends. You have to understand if a market is turning from a typical beef hamburger to a chicken sandwich — there are lots of signs. If they read them ahead of time, then they can plan. Take a step back. And always make time for meditation — about your life, your family, your goals, the people around you, and what you're trying to achieve.

Related: How Franchisees and Franchisors Can Master Their Relationship

Madeline Garfinkle

Entrepreneur Staff

Editorial Assistant

Madeline Garfinkle is an Editorial Assistant at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

I Live on a Cruise Ship for Half of the Year. Look Inside My 336-Square-Foot Cabin with Wraparound Balcony.

I live on a cruise ship with my husband, who works on it, for six months out of the year. Life at "home" can be tight. Here's what it's really like living on a cruise ship.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business Solutions

Master Coding for Less Than $2 a Course with This Jam-Packed Bundle

Make coding understandable with this beginner-friendly coding bundle, now just $19.99.

Health & Wellness

5 Essential Steps to Expand Your Vision and Start Living Your Dream Life

It's time to break free from your comfort zone and expand your vision. When you refuse to settle for a mediocre life, you can start building a life you love.

Starting a Business

Ask Marc | Free Business Advice Session with the Co-Founder of Netflix

Get free business advice during our next Ask Marc, live Q&A, on 3/28/23 at 3 p.m. EDT. You don't want to miss it—send in your questions now.