Recently, Mathew Focht, Founder and CEO of EMERGING, had the pleasure of speaking with Mike LaVitola, co-founder and chairman of Foxtrot and an advisor for EMERGING Fund. If you haven’t yet heard of Foxtrot, you will. This brand, in many ways, defines the preferences of today’s consumers. It’s about convenience, great food (local and national), sustainability, effortless delivery, and an app. They’ve definitely checked all the boxes.
So, what exactly is Foxtrot? It’s a convenience store. Surprising, I know. It’s really the convenience store we’ve all dreamed about, a place to stop in for the best coffee, food, alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic drinks when you’re on your way to work or heading home after a late night with friends. Think local food, handpicked wines, and fresh chef-prepared meals. They also offer delivery and takeout. They also promote sustainability.
Let’s see where LaVitola’s inspiration came from and his role in EMERGING Fund.
What Inspired You To Do Foxtrot?
After college, I moved to Austin, Texas, and one of the things I loved about that city was there was such a vibrant scene around food and beverage. There were amazing craft breweries getting started, tequila bars, incredible taquerias, and delicious bakeries. It infused everything around the city and really made it an amazing place to live.
And so, when I moved back to Chicago, one of the things that struck me was that the same scene existed here but in disparate parts of the city. And it certainly didn’t exist in the retail spaces where customers shop most, which are ultimately convenience stores. No matter where I moved in the city, I found there was always a convenience store on every corner, but it was never filled with the kind of products that I knew were delicious and innovative. These places were spread across the city but not next door.
And so, what Foxtrot was ultimately about was curating all the great, delicious things happening in the city and elsewhere and putting it into a format that I think people thought of as, you know, pretty tired.
What Is Your Role at the EMERGING Fund?
I’m excited to be an advisor at EMERGING Fund because it really sits at the intersection of the two most critical things for emerging concepts. The first one is location, data and analytics, and site selection. And then two, once you find those great concepts that are producing and growing, infusing technology into them so that they can do so in a capital-efficient way and in a way that empowers teams and gives great experiences to customers.
I haven’t seen the combination of those two pieces of the business anywhere else. EMERGING Fund can offer immense value for founders in terms of deep domain expertise, so it’s not talking in generalities about strategy going forward.
It is a roster and a bench of CEOs, founders, and operators who have been there, done that, and are doing it across hundreds of thousands of locations. They can give advice and mentorship in very candid and practical ways that most investors simply can’t.
EMERGING Fund sits at this really interesting intersection, where I think there’s a pretty large gap between traditional venture capital and later-stage private equity. It’s where most of the best concepts are off the ground, ready to scale, and need capital, but there’s plenty of capital out there.
It’s really about finding a strategic advisor who can pair that capital with hard-won knowledge of what it takes to scale concepts and the technology that underpins them. EMERGING Fund is becoming the hub for concept founders, operators, and CEOs to come together and benefit from the innovation that they see every day across their industry.
As an operator, you’re also inundated almost every day with new technologies and new pitches, new concepts, and new ideas. And so, having a network and an ecosystem of all the other leaders in the industry who have tested these technologies, tested these concepts, and tested these ideas to see who the ultimate winners are is incredibly valuable.
An Exciting Future
Currently, Foxtrot offers 15 stores throughout Chicago, as well as locations in Dallas, Washington D.C., Virginia, Austin, and Bethesda. They also offer nationwide delivery. We’re excited to see where this innovative brand finds itself down the road.
As LaVitola said so well, EMERGING Fund is made up of leading founders and CEOs in restaurants and restaurant technology. They invest in explosive growth areas and partner with leading entrepreneurs to accelerate go-to-market strategies under a modern fund. To learn more about EMERGING Fund or to schedule a consultation, contact EMERGING today.