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Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

Challenge: Make a 60-year-old ham­bur­ger chain into something cool. Daniel Schwartz accepted that assignment six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32.

Burger King was a tired outfit, with a confusing menu and sales going sideways. Its restaurants averaged half the revenue of McDonald’s. But where there is underperformance, there is ­opportunity. Schwartz slashed overhead at the Miami headquarters. He streamlined food preparation. He dished out stock to middle managers. He shrank the payroll and the capital budget by selling company-owned stores to franchisees.

In the years since, Burger King has become Restaurant Brands International (following some more classic 3G dealmaking). Restaurant Brands is now a growth stock. Bur­ger King opened up 1,000 restaurants around the globe last year, to 600 for McDonald’s. McDonald’s stores still have a bigger average volume, but Burger King’s are gaining on them; in the U.S., BK boosted its average volume per outlet by 30%, to $1.4 million, while McDonald’s had a gain of only 20%. All of Burger King’s success is, of course, in stark contrast to what’s going on at Kraft Heinz, another 3G turnaround that went the other way. In February, Kraft Heinz said it was taking a $15.4 billion write-down, a signal that its classic food brands were losing value.

The situation is different at Burger King. At the parent-company level, where revenue consists mostly of franchise fees, Restaurant Brands took in $5.4 billion last year, up 17% from 2017. McDonald’s revenue was off 8%.

“How many companies that have been around since the 1950s grow the top line at 10%?” says Schwartz, 38.

For a fast-food conglomerate that oversees 26,000 locations with combined sales of $32 billion, Restaurant Brands is quite agile. Three months ago the company introduced the Whopper Detour promotion, in which Burger King offered its signature item for a cent if the customer ordered food on the BK phone app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location. In February came the 45-second Super Bowl ad featuring historic footage of Andy Warhol slowly unwrapping and methodically eating a Whopper. The BK app topped the charts in Apple’s App Store during the campaign; throughout the Super Bowl, “Andy Warhol” was the most searched term on Google.

Maybe Schwartz can even make his ham­bur­ger chain cool enough for New Age customers. Plans are under way to introduce a plant-protein patty from Impossible Foods, the startup backed by investors like Bill Gates and the venture capital arm of Alphabet. This is a big deal for Impossible, with an expected rollout in 7,000 Burger Kings soon.

The past decade has been a whirlwind for Schwartz, who combined a certain amount of luck—in the right place at the right time—with a large amount of energy. A lanky guy who has a big smile and a tendency to speak with his hands, Schwartz left Cornell in 2001 with a degree in applied economics. Four years later, he landed a job at 3G Capital, the private equity firm that became famous for engineering the Anheuser-Busch InBev merger (and later infamous for the sickly Kraft Heinz merger).

Schwartz became a 3G partner at 27. “The group believes in investing in young people and giving them opportunities,” he says. “I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.” His wife tolerated the long hours, perhaps because, as a physician in residency, she worked late too.

A Burger King restaurant with the brand's new look.

McDonald’s has ruled as America’s top burger for decades, but Burger King is making gains with newly refurbished locations made to resemble this conceptual drawing.

Schwartz went hunting for deals. Burger King looked intriguing. “I’d ask my wife or my mom, ‘If McDonald’s is worth $70 billion, what do you think Burger King is worth?’ They’d say, ‘$30 billion?’ ” Schwartz recalls.

Paying a 46% premium for the publicly traded shares, 3G acquired the chain for $4 billion, ­including debt. Schwartz then raised his hand to help run it. “I wanted to be part of this. And I didn’t want to just sit in an office and get monthly reports.”

At 29, Schwartz became BK’s chief financial ­officer. He sold the corporate jet. He told employees to use Skype to make free international calls. And to get a feel for the whole business, he worked shifts off and on at Miami Burger Kings, cleaning toilets, cooking burgers and manning the drive-thru.

In 2012, 3G took Burger King public again, and Schwartz got the chief executive slot in June 2013. In the next 18 months, Burger King stock doubled, while McDonald’s lost 8%.

Focused as he was on selling hamburgers, he hadn’t left behind his deal-making instincts. ­Rechristened Restaurant Brands, his company ­acquired Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons in 2014. In 2017 it spent $1.8 billion in cash to get the Popeyes chicken chain.

Warren Buffett is a fan, having put up $3 billion in equity to help finance the Hortons deal. So is Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square hedge fund owns 5% of the stock; 3G owns 41%.

The second-largest shareholder: the employees, with more than 5% of stock. Thanks to a match for those who invest their bonuses in RBI shares, nearly all 300 middle managers (average age: 37) own shares; at least 100 have become millionaires. Schwartz is sitting on about $100 million in stock and options.

“I’m comforted as an owner when all of the key employees own a lot of stock,” Ackman says. “It makes them much less focused on short-term things. They’re much more focused on ‘Will this make the business more valuable in five years, ten years?’ ”

Recently, Schwartz was moved up to ­executive chairman, and longtime ­Bur­ger King exec Jose Cil, 49, became CEO. “We take bets on people,” Cil says. “When they are ambitious and willing to work harder than anybody because they’re driven by something beyond a paycheck, they want to do something big.”

Schwartz lives in Florida with his wife and three kids. He has been working out of RBI offices in Miami and Toronto, but now he’s going to be spending more time at the 3G office in New York, with assignments that range beyond the restaurant chains. “I’m not gonna be CEO at another company,” he says. “But we aspire to do more, and over time we can buy another business down the road.”

Or perhaps repair some of the ­businesses that 3G already owns. Could someone who has engineered a turnaround at Burger King work some magic on old ketchup and cheese brands? His diplomatic answer: “Maybe you could ask me that question in six months, when I ­hopefully get a little bit closer to the business of Kraft Heinz.”

3G’s business is as much about building as buying and selling. Schwartz says: “Most traditional investment firms, if they were in our shoes, probably would have sold [RBI] many years ago. Not only did we not sell, we bought more brands along the way. We are building this into a big company with a long-term mindset.”

Follow Chloe on Twitter and Instagram.

I cover all things food and drink as a staff writer at Forbes, from billionaires and ag tech startups to CPG entrepreneurs and wine. I head up the 30 Under 30 Food an

Source: Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

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6 Signs Your Business Idea Is Ready For Financing – Jared Hecht

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It’s thrilling to hit on a great idea for a business, and envision yourself at the helm of a lucrative new endeavor. Less thrilling, though, is the prospect of securing the necessary financing to get from idea to real-life CEO.

The truth is, finding the money to run a startup requires a lot of preliminary planning, regardless of whether you’re going to pursue outside funding or choose to bootstrap your first few months. Most startups looking elsewhere to kickstart their cash flow will have the best luck securing funding through their personal networks. You can look to an angel investor, a loan from friends or family or even crowdfunding. Alternatively, there’s also the option for a small business startup loan, another route entirely.

Regardless of which financing route you take, your potential investors need to see evidence that your idea is practically viable before they throw their hats into the ring. These six signs indicate that your business idea is ready for financing — and just might provide the evidence your potential investors need to be convinced.

1. Your idea serves a true, identified need

Your business isn’t going to work, let alone make money, if it doesn’t have a customer base. And, what’s more, if they don’t need whatever you’re creating. This may seem obvious, but many aspiring entrepreneurs get so caught up in the excitement of their big ideas that they fail to plan for how that idea will function in the real world.

Before you jump into the financing process, you need to identify your target customer segment and understand their behavior. You should design your product or idea to deliver a solution to a problem that those customers are facing.

While we’re on the subject of product: You need to know what that product or sevice is, how it works and how you’re going to sell it. You’ve identified potential problems that may arise with your product, or barriers you may come up against in the market, and you have a game plan for troubleshooting those snags.

Then, you need to perform due diligence in your industry. Determine exactly how you’ll situate your business within the existing market, understand how your product can shift and grow along with it, and differentiate yourself from competitors. And make sure your customers can afford your product or service.

2. You’ve tested out your product, and it works

Pay attention, especially to that second part. Very few lenders will feel comfortable investing their money into just an idea, no matter how enticing it might be.

Your business idea is ready for financing when you have material evidence to bring to your investors’ table, whether it’s a prototype of a physical product or a beta version of a program or website. Be ready to present any data, reviews or research you’ve acquired after testing out that product, too. And if that data isn’t favorable, you might need to go back to the drawing board.

3. You have a business model and plan

If your business model is the what, your business plan is the why.

Your business model indicates your business’s revenue streams, and your business plan lays out how you’re going to acquire those revenue streams. How is your business’s leadership team organized, and how is your business legally structured? What kind of equipment, staffing and marketing plan do you need to operate your business and generate income?

Both your business model and plan provide proof, both to yourself and to any potential lenders, that your business idea is practical and operable.

4. And you have a financial plan, too

Whether you’re pitching an investor or seeking a small business loan through a lender, your financier will want to see how you plan on using that potential money. You can’t just ask for money as an entrepreneur. You need to know exactly how much money you need, why you need it and how you’ll use it.

That’s especially true if you seek financing through an angel investor. Since these individuals lay their own money on the line to fund your startup, they need to be sure your venture is sustainable, eventually lucrative and that you’ll use their resources wisely.

Poor financial planning, or no financial planning, certainly can’t convince potential lenders of your business acumen. So, draw up a financial road map that projects exactly how you’ll get from point A — where you and your resources are now — to point B, where you hope to be within the next one to five years.

Be sure to include a detailed plan of your projected business expenses, or how much capital it’ll take to get your business idea off the ground, and your operating expenses, or how much it’ll cost to keep that business going.

5. You’ve recruited a qualified team to execute on your vision.

Even if you created your business idea on your own, in reality, every entrepreneur needs help kicking off, then operating, their startups.

Before you seek financing, recruit a capable and qualified management team to run your business, or have a hiring plan in place to do so ASAP. And if you don’t have enough relevant experience in the field yourself, you’ll need to gather a team of partners or mentors to fill the gaps in your knowledge. It’s crucial to acknowledge you can’t do and know everything yourself.

6. You can prove you spend money responsibly

Although you might not have a way to prove you’re responsible with business financing yet, you want to make sure you’re positioning yourself to create a track record so investors and lenders can trust you.

Even if you start with seed money from close friends, or crowdfunding from Kickstarter for your business idea, you may need to seek additional financing through a larger venture round or a small business lender. That’s where the proof becomes necessary. For instance, if you’re working with a lender, they’ll want to know that your business is capable of repaying your debt before extending you a loan. And any other investor will want to know that any money they give you will be spent responsibly, especially if they’re expecting returns.

One of the best ways you can do that is to cultivate a healthy financial profile, and keep a high business credit score. Open a business credit card, and follow best practices to improve your credit score, like paying all your bills in full and on time and regularly checking your credit reports for errors.

Then, the proof will be in the numbers. Alongside a squeaky-clean track record and a strong personal credit score, a great financial history will position you for the financing your growing small business needs, whether that’s new term sheet, or maybe a gold-standard SBA loan.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, sometimes the hardest thing isn’t coming up with innovative ideas, it’s knowing which of those ideas are worthy of financing. Watch out for these six signs to know when you’re ready to seek the financing you need to turn that big idea into a reality.

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