Vegetarian fast-food sounds like an impossibility, but Amanda Walker Koronczyk, co-founder of Lord of the Fries, made it a reality for thousands of fry-fiends around Australia.
As a judge at our 3 Day Startup pitch night, Amanda is paying it forward and sharing her insights with the next generation of entrepreneurs-in-the-making.
We sat down with Amanda to talk some more about inspiration, mentors on her journey and of course, fast food.
Born and raised in Canada, Amanda started her professional career as a teacher in her home city of Toronto. During a stint in Taiwan teaching English as a second language, she met her future husband, Mark Koroncyk.
Along their travels, they developed a strong bond over their love of good food made with care and respect. Driven by a passion for the humble fry, Amanda and her husband turned business partner, set about to give the people what they want – good quality, vegetarian fast food.
It all started in 2004 as a mobile chip van dubbed Lord of the Fries and from there the growth was swift. From touring festivals to popping up across Victoria to validate their idea in different parts of the state, it was clear that there was a big demand for this veggie-based venture.
By 2005, Lord of the Fries had set up shop in Melbourne and now there are over 10 franchised stores across Australia and New Zealand.
Navigating this exponential expansion is no mean feat. Amanda’s journey has been all about understanding the capacity of her idea and listening to the demands.
One of the most important things that Amanda notes about her experience is the value of a support network, and in the absence of mentors in her field of hospitality, understanding the importance of those around you.
“In terms of mentors I have found it challenging to get much help from people in similar roles in the industry, whether they are startups or long established in the retail food business.”
Amanda sought guidance in less formal ways of mentorship, and has shared who her top three supporters have been along the way and their best pieces of advice.
Mentoring by heart
“I draw my inspiration from my husband, who is also my business partner. The way in which he mentors me are many, but a few points come to mind. He shows me that work is fun and playful, that it can be integrated into life, and that if I don’t love it I shouldn’t do it. Find someone else who loves the “thing” and let them do it.”
Mentoring by passion
“My parents have served as mentors for me when it comes to life, relationships and business. They are both entrepreneurs and have paved the way for my understanding of work as being an extension of one’s passion. My mother says it’s all fairly easy, first you take care of yourself, then take care of your relationship with your husband and family, and the business will extend from there.”
Mentoring by soul
“My third most recent mentor is my current meditation teacher, Laura Poole. She draws on the wisdom of the Hindu Vedic tradition and reminds me that “we are all one” which really helps when writing policies, training staff and producing new coaching and discipline for team members and engaging in all activities, work related or not.”
From a passion for food and an ingenious idea, Amanda is on the way to building a fast food empire that is showing no signs of slowing down. Her story goes to show that if you love what you do, stick to a strong philosophy and work hard at it, good things will come.
Article written by Lucy Miller.
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