Chicago Entrepreneur Matt Matros, founder of Limitless Coffee and Protein Bar
By: Blake's Seed Based
Matt Matros is a leader in the Chicago food community and the founder two companies, Protein Bar and Limitless Coffee. We sat down with him to learn a little bit more about how he approaches things and his path to success.
TALK ABOUT YOUR PATH TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The path to entrepreneurship for me started as a child. I think a lot of youngsters who are now entrepreneurs would say that as well. My dad owned a small business growing up so I saw what it meant to be a business leader. This meant being on call 24/7, being a servant leader for employees and really caring about the customer.
I moved to Chicago in 2005 to work for Kraft Heinz. I learned a ton but just didn’t want to work for a big company any longer. I kicked around a lot of ideas and then I had the idea to start a healthy, fast casual restaurant. I took all my life savings, got some SBA loans and started Protein Bar in May of 2009. I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since then starting with Protein Bar and now Limitless. I’m involved in a number of other entrepreneurial ventures as well whether it’s mentoring young folks or acting as an investor or advisor when needed.
WILL YOU ALWAYS BE CREATING THINGS?
I feel like creating things is my area of genius. I like to find a consumer need within food and beverage and then try to meet that need. I love the startup aspect of being the first to do something that’s a little different. Developing new ideas that are innovative and seeing if there is a marketplace for them.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS?
For someone who’s not an entrepreneur but has an idea, I always tell them that the best idea in the world is the one that you are obsessed with. If you have an idea that you can’t stop thinking about, you have to go for it. It doesn’t mean it will be a be a success. What it does mean is you found something that have you passion and enthusiasm for and that’s not going to go away until you do something about it.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH IMPORTANT DECISIONS?
I’m kind of a contrarian when it comes to seeking advice for mentorship. I think entrepreneurs often times underestimate themselves and their own gut instincts. Typically when I’m faced with a crisis, I ask myself how do I feel? If I were to fast forward and make decision A or decision B, I mentally try that decision on and see what feels better. That’s how I’ve handled important decisions.
BEST ADVICE FOR HIRING NEW EMPLOYEES?
I always tell people to try and do the job first before you go out and hire for for two reasons. 1) You may not have to go hire someone if you can do that job and 2) You want to know what goes into that job so you can more specifically hire for that role.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH BUILDING A BRAND?
I think building a brand encompasses two things. 1) Developing a true brand promise. What does the brand stand for? If you look at any iconic brand they have one things they stand for. For example, Tide Detergent stands for “Years of Science and R&D”. At Protein Bar, our brand promise is “Healthier Choices Without The Sacrifice of Flavor.” At Limitless, our brand promise is “Powering Productivity”.
2) You must have a strong point of differentiation, one’s that’s truly obvious.
BEST TIME MANAGEMENT HACK?
I’m pretty non-technological. People make fun of me because I still carry a paper calendar. I print out by month and I have three months at any given time in my pocket. This helps me visually see my day and week and it’s proved very beneficial.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT CHICAGO?
The first thing that comes to mind is that’s no longer than a four hour flight just about everywhere (laughs). In all honesty, Chicago has an amazing congeniality about it that I believe is second to none. The fact that Chicago entrepreneurs can be competitors and friends is a characteristics of the city that I don’t believe exists anywhere else.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW ALONG AND SUPPORT YOU?