The Grind- 24 hrs in the Life of a Start-Up

Posted: January 5, 2011 in Hall of Fame Posts
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The live blog continues as you scroll down: a look inside the life of a Start-Up for a full 24hrs.

Since the restaurant isn’t open yet a lot of people ask us what we do all day… So, we decided to start the first ever 24 hr Live Blog (with hourly updates) that will give you a look into our everyday grind.

6:59 a.m

Trev is still asleep. Not for long. It's one minute till go time.

7:00 a.m

We like to start the day off with some yoga led by Shaan.


After yoga Trev takes us through a p90x ab workout. Too bad he's not as entertaining as The Tony Horton.

8:00 a.m

Breakfast and strategy time. While we eat breakfast we like to plan our strategy for the main project or goal of the day. Today we have a big a call with someone interested in locking down the next Sabi location. Needless to say we need to kill it…


Trev is the self-proclaimed Dr. of Omelets. Check out those flipping skills.

Breakfast of Champions










Shaan outlines our plan on the whiteboard.

9:00 a.m

Everyone’s moved to their individual stations, working on their division of the company.

Trevor’s in design mode, headphones on, and working his Photoshop magic to get the website pages done. He’ll post a few sample pages later to show you what he’s working on.

Dan’s been working the phone with the accountants all morning. I’ll say this, the man knows how to stretch one free-consultation with an accountant into an hour long Q&A session. He’s speaking a language I don’t understand, purely acronyms. An LLC taxed as an S-Corp? W2’s and 1099’s??  Dan “The Numbers Guy” Certner in action.

I’m putting together a package for our meeting in T-Minus 2hrs. My division of the company is Business Dev. and Marketing. It’s crazy how much overlap they have. If you want to make a partnership proposal, you have to remember how busy everyone else is – my general rule is : By default, nobody gives a shit about your great idea. Its up to you to engage, entertain, and earn their attention. Marketing isn’t something you do in flyers and advertisements, it’s adding personality to every single thing you do.

– shaan


Shaan just got off the phone with a girl he met at the bank who happens to be the founder of the Colorado University CEO club. Looks like we’ll get a great opportunity to meet a lot of young entrepreneurs around Boulder.

Dan is making our first DO WHAT YOU DO video. I can’t tell you much more about it, but it includes lions, Certners and a man named Makinda… Should be up real soon.

I’m still grinding away on this website. Things are really coming along since the last time I showed where I was at. Since then we’ve got some awesome pictures taken by the official Sabi Photographer, Jen Kozin. These have really brought the designs to a new level. Check em out:



Food Section. How We Roll page








Team Section. Founders page.

Team Section. Stephen page. He's the man.









These are just a couple of examples. It’s still a work in progress, but we are really happy with the direction that it is headed. If you guys have any feedback leave a little comment for me.

Back in an hour,



Shaan just finished preparing a packet for our upcoming meeting, and is now e-mailing one of the members of our Board of Advisors some questions we had about our lease negotiations.

Trevor is still designing the website – he recently started flipping through a book called “Sushi” that Shaan picked up from the library…maybe for some picture ideas? I’m not really sure…

I took a break from the video to send out a few e-mails. We are always trying to talk to as many people as we can because you never know where one connection can lead. I just spoke with someone from The Denver Founders Network who found us after he overheard my girlfriend Stacy talking about Sabi on a plane ride from Denver to Chicago!

Meeting in 15 – see you at noon…



Conference Call

Just got done with our call. Wow, What a cool lady. There is nothing like talking to someone who has the same vision of DO WHAT YOU DO as we do. I can’t wait to see what’s in store…That couldn’t have gone better.

At noon everyday we try to do something active. Usually we go lift weights but on Wednesdays we like to go for a quick hike up in the mountains. We’ll be back in an hour with some sweet pictures.



Now as you may have noticed, our apartment/Sabi Headquarters isn’t the most sophisticated environment, but it works for us. We work in close proximity, bouncing ideas off each other, and every wall is covered with whiteboards so we can plan things out easily. Still, its always good to get out, so right before lunch we try to do something active in the Boulder community to get fresh air and meet some cool people.

Today we went for a hike in the Chautauqua Mountains which are about 5 minutes from our apartment. I’ve never experienced anything like this, having the mountains right in your backyard. It was too good of a photo-op to pass up…

Mountain Men

Training like Rocky





You may wonder why we’re working out so much. Aside from operation get-swole-by-opening-day, we’re training for a competition called Tough Mudder – an intense out-door competition of manliness. Part of Sabi is the willingness to embrace challenge, take pride in preparing for it, and then seeing if you can rise to the occassion. For us, that’s what Tough Mudder is about. For all our Boulder followers out there, if you’re down for a little challenge, join our Tough Mudder team – and lets do this when they come to Boulder in June.

Lunchtime – We’ll see you at 2pm

– Us

2:00 p.m

A few sandwiches scarfed down, and we got back to work.  Quick update about what everyone’s up to:

Dan’s on the phone with a restaurant insurance company. Did you know that if someone gets robbed in the parking lot, we could be sued for not having enough outdoor lighting? Or if an older employee hurts his back while picking up a cup- we are on the hook for his surgery, even if it wasn’t caused by the restaurant?

All these worst-case scenarios make me nervous. There’s only one answer here, I’ll be personally checking every employees health. I’m talking about how they do it in elementary, checking the little kids for lice, scoliosis and dirty fingernails.

On the bright side, just got an email from the boys over at PoPChips (they make their chips with the same process people make popcorn, which means its healthier than frying or baking the chips). They’re interested in talking partnership – which is good news for me because I’m addicted to those things. PoPchips are going to blow up, they just began being distributed in a few major channels, Whole Foods, Jamba Juice etc…and they go great with our sushi during lunch times. Looking forward to the possibilities of working with them.

Time for Me and Trev to go to our day jobs – basketball coaching at local Boulder schools. Dan will hold down the fort until we get back.



Trevor and Shaan left a little while ago so I’m on my own at Sabi HQ…

Trevor just called to let me know he called Phil during his drive to practice – said they had a great conversation about our menu options so hopefully we’ll hear more about that later.

After I got off the phone with the insurance agent I’ve been trying to learn more about the types of insurance we need. Not the most interesting thing in the world – but probably more fun than the tax books I was reading this morning.

I have a meeting at 4pm so the next post will have to come a little early – I’ll be prepping for the meeting between now and then…got that Duke game at 5pm to look forward to!



Early post since I have a meeting in a few minutes:

Just got an e-mail back from the Manager of Non-Traditional Marketing at Qdoba! Met him randomly a few weeks ago and I’ve been trying to arrange some time to meet since he is based in Denver.

Funny story about how we met him actually – the conversation went something like this… (true story, I swear)

Him: “Nice to meet you guys, what brings you to Denver?”

Us: “We are creating a fast-casual sushi concept in Boulder. Think of a Chipotle-style sushi restaurant…so what do you do?”

Him: “I work for Qdoba…”

Glad he didn’t hold that one against us. Duke game in an hour vs. Alabama-Birmingham…check it out on ESPN2.


5:00 p.m

I just got home from basketball practice. When we first moved out to Boulder, we knew we needed a job that would be flexible, fun, and allow us to commit our time to Sabi. Enter the Range School (name has been changed for confidentiality), 2 days a week, 4 hours a day, $40 an hour? Sign me up.

Its funny how what started off as a way to make money on the side, ends up making a huge impact on the way you perceive life. The majority of students at the Range School are fully functional Autistic/Aspergers students, making this one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. These kids come in to the gym, and I try to make it as fun as possible, but also coach them so they can get better at a game they love to play. You would never know they are different, except for the fact that they are exceptionally smart and easy-going.

I wanted to post a team picture today, but my star player James (name changed for confidentiality) informed me that today wasn’t a good hair day for him. So James, I’ll honor your request, since you did kick my butt in a free throw contest – no pictures that wouldn’t do the hair justice.

I do leave you with my point guard in action – Kobe’s got nothing on him.

back at 6pm.

6:00 p.m
We’re kicking back, eating an early dinner while watching the Duke Basketball game. Duke basketball is by far the most loved and hated program in the entire country. There’s a variety of theories about this, our Caucasian heavy roster, Coach K’s looks, the elitist private school that has a great sports program in addition to its academics. Others make comparisons to the Yankees, but its not like Duke out-spends its opponents (actually that would be John Calipari’s Kentucky squad).

Winning breeds loyalty, as well as jealousy/hatred – but Duke isn’t the winningest program. UCLA, and Kentucky, Indiana, and UNC all have more championships- and while they have loyal fans, they have much less hatred.

Whether you love/hate Duke, you feel a strong way about it, showing why Duke is a bigger brand than any other program. As a start-up, this is interesting. Especially because my theory on why they are such a strong brand is that they follow our motto : do what you do.

Duke plays its way. It draws charges. It slaps the floor as its signature defensive call. They run to and from every timeout. They never talk back to their coach. They tuck in their shirts even when they are in practice. They never have facial hair (Brian Zoubek excluded, he was the first ever) and never have long hair. In short – Duke has created a culture, an aura, a uniform, a way of life – A Brand.

I think that to be a successful entrepreneur, you can never take a moment off. That doens’t mean being a work-a-holic, but even when you’re just kicking back, eating dinner and watching a basketball game – keep your mind working. I learned more about building a brand in the last 30 minutes observing Duke’s basketball program than I could have out of any book or class.

more to come at 7pm



Just got back from basketball. I got this job about a month ago and it just might be the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I seriously love everything about it. But, the thing I like most is working with all of the different girls and learning the most effective ways to teach, motivate and get the most out of them.

So far the most important lesson that I have learned is there is no one formula for teaching. I have seen a lot of coaches and teachers that will always stick to their style, treat everyone the same, and never make adjustments for different situations. They have a formula and they stick with it. But how can one formula or style connect with all of the different people or students you are trying to connect with? …It cant.

All of the great leaders I have seen in my life have one thing in common: They take the time to get to know everyone they are working with. By doing this they are able to create a deeper connection and bond with that person which allows them to find the best way to motivate and teach that person as an individual. I have taken this same approach in coaching these girls and so far it’s working perfect. I’ve learned that some respond to praise while others get tougher with criticism, some like attention, others would rather just hang back. By recognizing these things I am able to make a more meaningful connection with each of the players and it is allowing me to motivate and get the most out of them each day in practice.

I truly believe that this is a lesson that can be transferred across all fields. And it will absolutely be something I think about within our restaurant as we start to hire and train our employees.

We’ll be back at 8.


8:00 p.m

The do what you do initiative was supposed to be launched closer to the restaurant opening, but the number of passionate and talented people that we’ve met already has forced our hand.

In the coming weeks you’ll see why our motto isn’t about fresh ingredients. tastetastic! mouthful of heaven or other similarly corny restaurant slogans. Explaining do what you do is for another day. For now, just know that our mission will include finding a way to harness the talents of young people just like ourselves, that just need an opportunity, a platform, a chance to show the world what they’ve got.

The other night, another future do what you do’er came our way, as I stumbled on this video of Lucia Sosa – a young aspiring singer out of California.

I asked a friend what she thought about Lucia’s video above, and she goes “she’s got a great voice, but a lot of people can sing”. And you know what? That’s true. A lot of people can sing.


For a singer to write/produce their own song of this quality, shows that not only does she have vocals/musical chops, but she’s got heart. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned running a start-up, through trial and error during the hiring/firing process, its that you don’t let a talented person with this kind of heart go by unnoticed.

I’m excited to see what she does, not only in collaboration with us, but as she takes on the music industry. I’m sure she’s heard the naysayers talk about the long-shot odds of making it in the music industry, just as we’ve heard millions of times that 90% of restaurants fail.

Well you know what? There may be a lot of people that can sing, but I’ll take my chances on her.

EDIT: by popular demand, here’s a link to her blog



I was sitting here working on putting together a short proposal when a Kid Cudi interview came on my itunes. I was zoning out through most of it but there was a part where he was explaining why he calls himself The Man on the Moon. He explained that he stole the name from the famous movie staring Jim Carrey and how the movie meant so much to him because of one simple message: “The Comedian in the movie made it to the top because he did everything his way, no matter what.”

Kid Cudi was so inspired by this simple notion because he feels the same way about the music that he makes: “I don’t like to do the same shit that everyone else does…I do it my way. I make songs that I think are awesome and that I am passionate about. That’s my style, I do what I do.”

After hearing this interview Shaan and Dan headed for the library to check out the movie for the night. I can’t wait to see what we can take away from it. It seems like the notion of Do What You Do is everywhere.

I’ll let you know how the movie goes.


10:00 p.m
The workday is coming to a close – today was especially intense. We didn’t pre-plan doing this blog, just decided today might be a good day for it. It was fun to share our daily grind with you guys, and the texts/calls of support were great, thanks for that! Everyday is full of ups and downs – we just try to keep our hard work our source of consistency.

Many of the things we do seem silly, but we do them with a purpose. We wake-up at 7 a.m because it sucks. Because we hate it. Because its a way of giving ourselves and our comforts up for the success of our team and venture. I make my bed in the morning (something I’ve always thought of as pointless) for that exact reason. Doing something pointless, but with passion, gives it meaning. It’s a mental commitment to doing whatever it takes to get the job done – not just doing things that have obvious and instant rewards attached to them.

In the restaurant we will have to do things that go unnoticed. We must do them consistently, without being results oriented. Because those little touches are the details that add up to make a great product.

Today’s blog was another example. It seems goofy or counter-productive to spend so much time blogging, but its important for us. We love the support we get, and want to give them as much real insight to the business as possible, even if it means showing us embarrassingly doing team-Yoga in the mornings. We want you all to be a part of that journey. We tried to offer insight to our goals, to what inspires us, and to our general business philosophies.

We broke our record for views-in-a-day, but that’s not the point. Some day when we’re asked why we were successful, we can point to days like this. Blogs like this.

Work hard when no-one’s watching, and maybe some day they will.

– Shaan

  1. I says:

    hahahaha i’m glad my comforter was put to good use

  2. sabisushi says:

    thats your bed too…mine popped one night and I woke up on the floor hahhaa

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