Kent Taylor, the ‘maverick entrepreneur’ who founded Texas Roadhouse, has died at 65

Texas Roadhouse
  • Kent Taylor, who founded Texas Roadhouse in 1993, died Thursday at the age of 65.
  • Taylor was most recently the board chairman and the chief executive officer.
  • Louisville’s mayor remembered him as a ‘kind and generous spirit’ who put others first.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kent Taylor, the founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, known for his deep care for workers and entrepreneurial spirit, died Thursday at age 65, the company said.

Taylor founded the Lone Star State-themed steakhouse – famous for its loyal fans, free peanuts, and unlimited rolls and butter – in 1993. In the decades since, he “dedicated himself to building it into a legendary experience for ‘Roadies’ and restaurant guests alike,” the restaurant’s lead director Greg Moore said in the statement.

“He was without a doubt, a people-first leader,” Moore said, noting that Taylor forfeited his compensation package amid the COVID-19 pandemic in support of his workers. “His entrepreneurial spirit will live on in the company he built, the projects he supported and the lives he touched.”

The company did not specify a cause of death.

Taylor was the visionary behind the company’s partner model and its mission of “Legendary Food and Legendary Service,” Jefferies analyst Andy Barish said in a note. The restaurant chain, which now has more than 600 locations across the country, went public in 2004. Since then, its “unending focus on delivering a quality experience with great value has made it one of the most consistent casual dining companies overall,” Barish said.

Texas Roadhouse lived up to the hype of being America’s favorite steakhouse chain, according to one Insider reporter who dubbed the restaurant the “clear winner” in a competition with Outback Steakhouse. According to Pitchbook, the restaurant was also named Employee’s Choice Best Places to Work by Glassdoor.

Throughout his career, Taylor received many accolades, including becoming a member of the Kentucky Business Hall of Fame and being named the 2014 Operator of the Year by Nation’s Restaurant News, Pitchbook said.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina, which he attended on a track scholarship. Before founding his restaurant, he worked at KFC, Bennigan’s, and Hooters of America, according to Pitchbook.

Taylor’s successor as CEO will be President Jerry Morgan, the company said, adding that Morgan will be key in helping the business move forward “after such a tragic loss.” Morgan has worked at Texas Roadhouse for 23 years.

Read more: 6 chains that are positioned to survive the restaurant apocalypse sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, according to experts and analysts

In a tweet, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Taylor was a “maverick entrepreneur who embodied the values of never giving up and putting others first.”

“Louisville lost a much loved and one-of-a-kind citizen with Kent Taylor’s passing today,” Fischer said. “Kent’s kind and generous spirit was his constant driving force whether it was quietly helping a friend or building one of America’s great companies.”

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell said Taylor didn’t fit the “mold of a big-time CEO.” He built his company taking bold risks and using creativity and grit, McConnell said. But most of all, he cared about his team.

“When the pandemic threw everything into uncertainty last year, there was no question what Kent would do,” McConnell said. “Like always, he put his people first. He dug deep into his own pockets and covered healthcare and bonuses for thousands all while keeping his stores open to make sure workers got paychecks when they needed them most. These were acts of extraordinary leadership that were all very ordinary for Kent.”

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Reddit’s Wall Street Bets founder signed with a Hollywood talent agency that reps Jessica Alba and Kevin Hart

WallStreetBets
  • Wall Street Bets founder Jaime Rogozinski signed with a Hollywood talent agency, Bloomberg reported.
  • United Talent Agency represents stars like Jessica Alba, Kevin Hart, and Seth Rogen.
  • Hollywood is trying to capitalize on the recent GameStop saga with various movies planned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Reddit’s Wall Street Bets founder Jaime Rogozinski signed with a Hollywood talent agency as the entertainment industry looks to capitalize on the GameStop saga, Bloomberg reported.

United Talent Agency, which represents big names such as Jessica Alba, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Hart, is adding the Reddit star to its catalog after investors on his thread, r/wallstreetbets, forced a historic rally in GameStop shares that hurt short sellers. GameStop stock has since fluctuated in price, but its gains remain near 1000% year-to-date, Markets Insider data shows.

United Talent Agency did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to confirm the news about Rogozinski. With UTA, Rogozinski may appear in podcasts and speak at a conference in the fall, Bloomberg reported.

Read more: GENERATION ROBINHOOD: How the trading app conditioned its inexperienced users to obsessively play the market

Hollywood has been picking up on the GameStop frenzy. MGM, for example, bought the film rights to a proposed book that will cover the saga. And last month, Deadline reported that Netflix is in talks to make a movie about what happened. That’s just two of the nine projects already in the works about GameStop, Bloomberg reported.

Rogozinski founded the Reddit group, r/wallstreetbets, in 2012, while he was working as an IT consultant. But the group only recently became popularized, as its members have helped pave the way for a frenzy in meme stocks, such as GameStop, AMC Entertainment, Blackberry, and Bed Bath & Beyond. In an interview, Rogozinski said seeing the GameStop rally was like watching a trainwreck in real-time.

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The founder of Care.com uses empathy, not frustration, to combat biases at work

Sheila Marcelo
Sheila Marcelo.

  • Care.com founder Sheila Marcelo has faced plenty of biases in her rise to the top.
  • But she’s been able to overcome them with a distinctly authentic and empathetic approach.
  • Through perseverance, Marcelo led the company to a lucrative IPO.
  • This article is part of a series called “Leaders by Day,” which takes a look at how prominent business leaders are tackling various challenges in today’s economy.

When Sheila Liria Marcelo first pitched the caregiving marketplace Care.com in 2007, a male investor had assumed she was an analyst from the bank.

“No, I’m actually Sheila Marcelo,” she said, correcting him. “I’m the founder and CEO of Care.com.”

As a Filipino-American, Marcelo, 51, is used to dealing with the implicit biases that women of color in leadership roles encounter daily. She’s been overlooked, underestimated, and misunderstood by male investors who couldn’t relate to her product. But along the way, Marcelo has adopted empathy and authenticity as her weapons to combat prejudice. Marcelo has now become one of only 22 women to ever found and lead a company to an IPO.

“So much of it starts from within,” she said. “You have to be inspired yourself to really believe what’s in your heart so that you can shine that energy, and others can feel it.”

In 2006, Marcelo founded Care.com to address a problem she faced as a working mother: finding care for her two young children and ailing parents. The platform is the world’s largest online marketplace for finding child, pet, and senior care. The company’s network has extended to over 35 million members in over 20 countries.

Care.com was acquired by holding company IAC last year for $500 million. Since then, Marcelo has co-founded Landit, the career-centric online platform that connects women and diverse groups with such resources as career coaching and personal branding tools. Marcelo joined venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates in January, where she’s focused on helping other female founders get the funding they need.

Even as the number of female-owned businesses has risen in the US and around the world 28% of company founders are womenbiases within the VC industry can prevent access to funds.

“When I describe to people the challenges of a female founder, there’s a little bit of disbelief,” Marcelo told Insider. “They’re like, ‘oh, come on – it can’t be the case.’ It sometimes feels like you’re using it as an excuse when in reality, the biases are there.”

An empathy-based approach

One of the most challenging hurdles for a woman founder, Marcelo said, is getting male investors interested in what you have to offer. The gender gap in venture capital funding is a major hurdle for female founders.

Pitchbook reported in 2019 that 2.7% of venture capital went to companies founded only by women, while companies cofounded by both men and women garnered 14%. Additionally, only 13% of all venture capital decision-makers are women. Those numbers become even starker for women of color.

Marcelo noticed that when she pitched her company to male funders, they often failed to see the need for a caregiving platform, since in many traditions, caregiving is perceived as a woman’s responsibility.

“They don’t resonate or relate to the service,” Marcelo said. “But if you have a female analyst in the room or a female investor in the room, the dynamic will change.”

Marcelo tries not to respond to the biases of others with anger. Instead, she approaches each situation from a place of empathy.

“I would rather attack biases not with aggression, but with understanding,” Marcelo said. “I think it’s part of our humanity to better understand how people can embrace an educator, and really educate them about their biases so that they’re not behaving in the same way.”

When the investor incorrectly passed Marcelo off as a bank analyst in 2007, she decided not to belabor his biases. Instead, she focused on hard facts, her knowledge about the business, and the profits she had been able to yield. Under Marcelo’s guidance, Care.com didn’t just profit – it was acquired by IAC at a 34% premium for $500 million. She hopes the experience was a lesson for the investor as well.

“The next time it happens to another woman, he’s going to take a pause and say, ‘do I have biases?'”

Authentic boldness

The phrase “authentic boldness” might initially seem contradictory. Authenticity often demands vulnerability, and boldness often calls for an elevated, more confident version of oneself. But Marcelo believes the two traits are complementary.

“The more you’re open about yourself, the more confident you are,” Marcelo said. “You care less about what people think, and your goal in life is actually to serve others and not impress others. There’s a sense of coming out with who you are.”

When Marcelo participated in televised interviews, her voice coach told her that her posture and tone of voice were too low in energy. Marcelo found that it was because she was actively trying to mirror the energy of her interviewer.

She stopped trying to match her interviewer and instead projected her own personality onto the interview. And that, Marcelo said, allowed her to elevate the conversations.

That’s why Marcelo encourages others to bring their truest selves to the table. And in doing so, they’ll be able to be bold in their own authenticity.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I made $490,000 launching a maternity clothing brand during the pandemic. I also experienced a personal loss. Here’s what it taught me.

Elle Wang
“When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot,” says founder Elle Wang.

  • Elle Wang is the founder and creative director of New York-based clothing brand Emilia George.
  • She was working full-time from home, caring for her toddler, and running her clothing business at night in early 2020.
  • After a miscarriage in June, Wang says she made changes to her strained schedule to prioritize her health.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I first had the urge to create high-end maternity workwear when I was seven months pregnant in February 2019. I was working full-time, and felt simply pushed over the edge by the uncomfortable clothing I wore to work everyday – the first thing I did when I got home was get naked. 

Elle Wang
Models wearing dresses from the Emilia George Debut Collection.

I’d always enjoyed fashion and would go to fashion week shows when I had a chance, but I had zero background, contacts, or training in clothing and design. Since I had no idea how to draw, I worked with several independent designers to create maternity collections.

After giving birth and spending months turning my idea into a reality, we officially launched Emilia George on December 10, 2019. 

A few months later, COVID-19 hit.

I had barely introduced my business to potential customers across Manhattan. My husband and I had to quickly pull our child out of daycare and began working from home for our full-time jobs.

Soon, I began receiving emails from production partners and fabrics suppliers saying they’d be closed for the unforeseen future. Promising retailer partners told me that all new brand onboarding had to stop. 

At the same time, I was taking care of our 1-year-old son in a city filled with sirens and horrific numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths. It took a toll on me, and I wanted to quit many times. 

When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot.

As I bootstrapped my business, production partners closed and major retailers barely stayed afloat. I had enough reasons to shut down Emilia George over and over again once the pandemic began, but I didn’t. 

Instead, I cut down costs by completely halting digital marketing spend on Facebook and Instagram. The only partner I kept was my PR team, who proved instrumental in driving brand awareness during such a strange time. 

When we entered April 2020, we decided to make face masks to help alleviate the shortening supply. The launch was covered by sites like Vogue and Elle, and soon we were flooded with orders. We sold over $40,000 worth of masks alone in May. 

In June, the National Institutes of Health asked us to make customized masks for their employees – one of which Dr. Anthony Fauci wore at a Senate hearing in September. 

fauci nih
Dr. Fauci wearing the mask made by Emilia George in September 2020.

While it helps to be a lean startup, being a one-woman show came with hardships.

After we began working from home, my husband and I had planned to conceive again. But we weren’t prepared to do our jobs while taking care of our toddler full-time from home. Being the founder and CEO of a new one-woman startup was exhausting on top of childcare, and my day job being a partnerships and strategy advisor at the United Nations.

Most days, it was only after 7 p.m. that I finally had big chunks of time to work on Emilia George, from fulfilling orders to talking to my production partners and suppliers in Asia. At the height of the pandemic, I often had to fill orders until 1 or 2 a.m. before I could even think about going to bed. 

My production partners overseas in Italy and China often asked me if I ever slept. I did – just not that much. For a good few months, I was only sleeping for around four hours a night. 

I had a miscarriage in June.

I always wondered if my crazy work hours and stress had caused it. When I got pregnant again a couple of months later, my husband and I were determined to make changes to better safeguard our health needs as a family.

Elle Wang
Wang’s baby’s gender reveal Zoom party during quarantine.

We found a live-in nanny to help with childcare and hired additional team members to help with Emilia George’s operations. Now, we have a team of six awesome women, and are continuing to grow.

As my accountant was about to close the books for 2020 – Emilia George’s very first year – I noticed our gross revenue: over $490,000. To make sure my being 29 weeks pregnant hadn’t resulted in some numerical error, I double checked with her. It was true: I’d made nearly half a million dollars from launching a pregnancy clothing line during COVID-19, all with a toddler at home and a baby on the way, not to mention while managing a full-time job.

While I was surprised and happy by this success, I knew it came as a result of countless hours of behind-the-scenes work and dedication that was far from easy.

I’ve learned the best thing I can do to support other entrepreneurial women is to share my story.

Elle Wang
Wang’s son at Emilia George’s new HQ in Tribeca.

I understand the work and perseverance it takes to grow a startup as a working mom. So many people have fantastic ideas, but finding that initial investment can be incredibly daunting. When it comes down to it, the better connected we are, the more we can do. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Read the original article on Business Insider