Interview- Steven Schussler Rain Forest Cafe Founder


I had the privilege to interview Steven Schussler who founded the successful chain of Rain Forest Cafe. Chairman and Chief Executive of Schussler Creative, his firm designs and builds theatrical environments for restaurants, retail stores, and special events. Also co-author of best seller book “It’s a Jungle in There”.

Steven is a great mentor, speaker, entrepreneur, and investor, he shared key tips and tricks to run a successful business, no matter if it is in the food industry, retail, product, or service. You will hear and feel Steven’s passion for entrepreneurship in this interview.

Key Tips given in Interview:

  • Entrepreneurs will have ADD (Multi-Taskers)
  • You must always have an ego check
  • Make sure to have the right TEAM that can understand your vision
  • Know your exit strategy, know when it is the time to let go of your business and sale it
  • Customer retention is due to 1) Experience (Wild Factor) 2) Service 
  • Surround yourself with people smarter than you
  • Have attorneys, and branding experts on your team
  • Know your competition
  • Be up to date with what goes on around the world
  • Stay in shape (healthy)
  • Have a good attitude that you are going to succeed
  • You are constantly pitching yourself everyday, make sure to pitch with a smile

To find out more about Steven, visit Schussler Creative.



Greg Hickman founder of

The Creator/Host of Mobile Mixed a Mobile Marketing Consultant focused on retail, Co-Founder of Thumbfound, Entrepreneur & Mountain Biker. Greg started off as an agency guy having the opportunity to work on brands like Pepsi, Lipton, and Walmart, creating and managing digital, in-store and grassroots initiatives.

Check out his website for more tips, and tricks of mobile marketing:

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Should you start a franchise?


What is the difference between a franchisee and a company owned store within a franchise chain? Why might one prefer to be the franchisee or the manager of a company owned store?

The main difference between a franchisee and a company owned store within a franchise chain is that the franchisee is the entrepreneur of the location, he/she can run it as he/she pleases always keeping in mind that there are still certain rules and policies to abide by according to the franchisors liking. The company owned store within a franchise chain is simply what it states, a store location that is owned by the franchisee. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to which one should you choose. It all depends on what type of personality trait you have and what responsibilities and freedom do you prefer. If you want to be a free bird, make your own decisions, be your own boss and make some changes according to your liking that you want to be a franchisee. Becoming a franchisee does come with cost. You have to take into consideration that you will require start up capital in order to own your own store with the rights of renting the name and products from an existing franchise. You have a lot more of a responsibility that would a manager at one of your locations. If you are an entrepreneur at heart, want to take on the challenge of becoming a franchisee than you want to go that route. It wont be an easy peasy road, be prepared to run into a lot of headaches, problems, challenges, and expenses, however the pay out and return are much greater to those obstacles mentioned, if you are prepared with the right tools and experience.

The manager at the company owned franchise is what it states, a manager. You will be running the store location on behalf of the franchisee and your responsibilities are less than what the franchisee has to deal with. You don’t have to invest any money in order to become the manager, however you still have to manage the company employees and most of the time has to account for the finances of the location. You have many times the responsibilities of having a profitable location, because if your store isn’t profitable, you won’t have a job. Managers have to be ready to face the day-to-day problems and challenges, such as upset customers, employee training, customer service, time management and a lot more duties. Think about which category you fall right into and that would be the option for you. Of course always keep in mind that both come with very different challenges and rewards, however at the end of the day you have to be ready and happy in whichever role you choose. Your health and happiness is the most important part to carry either role successfully.

What is typically provided by a franchisor to its franchisees? Why would these be valuable to a nascent entrepreneur? Why is the failure rate lower for franchisees than it is for independent businesses?

Typically, Franchisees receive the material (food, ingredients, supplies, etc..) at a reduced cost. It is the franchisees responsibility to budget what they will need in order to run a successful branch/store/location. The franchisee needs to be prepared to follow policies and procedures, and has to have had some experience in the industry they are looking into franchising the name in order to be the most successful possible. What the franchisee gets in return of their investment in the company is the established name and brand that the original founders have already established and took the hardest part of starting a successful business out of the equation for the franchisee. You need to not worry about the brand recognition because it has already been established. The failure rate for a franchisee is lower than any independent business, because it has already established the name and recognition and whenever someone is in need of that particular product or service than they come to your store because of the already established name and brand. Where as for a start up, it has to work harder to build customer loyalty and brand recognition, thus proving that if you want to run the show and start a movement/brand you need to put in the work and proactively come up with innovative ways to promote your company image. Becoming a start up isn’t a easy position to be in, neither is running a franchise, however start up comes with more labor and hours of brainstorming how to penetrate the market with your product/service.

Establish and running a successful muse


For the past few weeks I have been working day and night preparing for our first kiosk launch at the Westfield MainPlace Shopping Mall, really thrilled and excited to share our innovative products with local shoppers. Our website will be updated soon with our Funky Charger and Character USB figures for internet purchases.

While building a concept of the idea I had to launch this project and business, I took into consideration allot of factors that helped affirm that this was the business idea (of many I have had) to launch and take on the challenges of launching a startup company. I believe that my persistence and risk taking personality traits have helped shape the business model that I have built, staying up to date with the latest technology, and doing tremendous research on what manufacturer to pick to help make a dream come true. The independence of choosing which manufacturers to hire and which to fire have been a great opportunity to help nurture and build my business (my baby). The leadership skills that I have picked up along the years, with leading other businesses, music and dance groups have helped me build confidence in my work and abilities. 

Recently I pick up a book to study and read for one of my Masters of Entrepreneurship Program course called:

It’s a jungle in there by the founder of the Rain Forest Cafe, Steven Schussler who is also founder and CEO of Schussler Creative, Inc., a company that creates theatrical environments for attractions, restaurants and retail stores worldwide. In reading the first coupe chapters I have found various personality traits that I feel I share with Steven, which fuel my drive as an entrepreneur and also help confirm that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I also continuously thank my parents for having supported all my business venture attempts, they have seen the many mistakes I have made with certain business decisions, however they have supported me regardless of the risks I took, and that is why I recommend having certain people like your parents, and mentors part of your life to help support you in your decisions and allow you to make mistakes to learn from. I have held many job positions in the finance and banking industry which I currently still hold a Banker role in a large bank, but with time plan to eventually take on my businesses full-time. I graduated high school in 2004, and just this year did I earn my bachelors in International Business from Cal State Fullerton,  which although I wasn’t your typical 21-22 year old college grad, I was able to share life, business, and work experiences with others part of the same business program. I found myself many times not being the only 23+ year old in college finishing a first degree. A lot of the great friendships and connections I made in my undergrad years shared different experiences in various fields and this is why I believe that the perks of getting your degree, regardless of part time or full time are beneficial for you in the long run, because you build a network that you will be part of for the rest of your life. I also thank LBSA (Latino Business Student Association) for opening their doors with open arms; it’s this network of friends and colleagues that drive student success, achievement and support.   

I am a firm believer in sharing my experiences with everyone that I can reach out to, experiences with accomplishments, rewards, and mistakes all which are lessons learned. Thank you all for your continuing support! 




Promoting Consumer needs and B2B needs

For the past couple of weeks I have been focusing on launching a new product to the market. This product will be a customized USB Flash Drive targeted to young people between the ages of 15-30 years old. The niche market that I am going after is the Electronic Music market which has become a $4.5 Billion industry. The product, which I am working on bringing into the market, will represent all of the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fans to use as their primary storage device for all their files, music, videos, and more.  A lot of time we get stuck having to use our own laptops to pass on music we like to friends and family, so in order to make the transition easier, fans will be able to give their USB to their friend who can easily just drag and drop the songs, videos, or files they want to share. This is an example of a consumer-oriented product, which I believe will continue to promote EDM and build a stronger foundation of fans.


If I were to bring a business-to-business product or service I would open a service that caters to corporations by producing an online service that helps arrange travel needs for their employees. The website would be a one stop shop for the business, so we can offer discounted prices pre-arranged with airlines, and hotels. This service would first be targeted primarily to my home state of California, targeting first to Orange County my home county. I would target firms with 500 to 749 employees. A lot of companies are growing and going global, so travel among top executives is a very needed service, so we would virtually cater to the corporation’s needs in transportation for their top employees. As an Entrepreneur it is very important to be widely aware of the global economy and how businesses are growing and expanding outside of their home markets which is why I believe that there will be a continuing impact in travel needs from many companies.