The Banana Business
After graduating from Babson College in 2014, Zak was living in Santa Cruz, working on a crowdfunding platform for nonprofits, and applying for tech start-ups jobs in San Francisco. His taste buds quickly took over after a friend’s cousin shared a yummy vegan recipe for ice cream by simply blending frozen bananas. Immediately, Zak and his friends knew it was a product they wanted to bring to the masses. Although business school had advised him not to go into business with friends and not to go into the food business, Zak trusted his instincts and moved back to Hawai’i where Banán was born with his three Punahou classmates. Originally, they planned to have a storefront, but found a food truck on Craigslist for $2,000 and parked it in a 4,000 square foot lot near on Monsarrat Ave. Today, Banán has four sites on O’ahu and one abroad. As a farm-to-table delicacy business, Banán hopes to close the food cycle by supporting local farmers and agriculture and create more “table-to-farm” benefits by providing compost resources back to the farmers.
14 Facts About Me:
1. My Name Is:
2. I Grew Up In:
3. The Name Of My Business Is:
4. I Graduated From:
Punahou and Babson College
5. When I Was A Kid, I Wanted To Be:
6. In High School, People Would Describe Me As:
Mischievous, playful, trippy
7. My Childhood Prepared Me For My Job Today By:
Allowing me to imagine.
8. The Value My Business Provides Is:
We’re building a brand that connects people to the story of their food. We are invested in partners and farmers that we know and trust. We believe in using fresh, wholesome, and simple ingredients that respect the agricultural landscape of wherever we are. We hope to to bring back a culture of agriculture, helping our customers and communities to become more conscious of the profound connection between their food choices and the natural world.
9. I Realized My Business Was Successful When:
I no longer had to peel hundreds of bananas a day.
10. My Favorite Thing About Running My Business Is:
Working with my best friends and bringing on new team members. All of my favorite people that I’ve met in the past few years have been through connecting with fellow employees, customers, farmers, and banana fans.
11. The Most Challenging Thing About Running My Business Is:
The human element. Everybody is different. Navigating the business world rests highly on your ability to read people, communicate effectively, understand motivation, and be aware of others emotions. It takes a team of people create something great.
12. One Mistake I’ve Made That Taught Me A Lesson Was:
Not paying GE taxes our first year of business, it was an expensive one!
13. One Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of Is:
Being able to raise a son while growing the business. Alaia brings an incredible amount of joy to anyone he meets and I aspire to be more like him.
14. My Advice For Future Business Owners Is:
Just go out and DO IT! All you need is passion, a clear vision, and strong-willed determination to turn your dream into a reality.
In RISEHI’s focus article on Zak, we share how he and his fellow co-founders (Matt Hong, Luke Untermann and Galen McCleary) CHASED their CRAZY IDEA to start a business bringing banana soft-serve to Hawaii.