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Career Connections: Restaurant Entrepreneur

8 minutes

My name's Zach Weprin. I'm the cofounder of Fusian. Fusian's a fast, casual sushi concept. We're operating in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus. I started Fusian with my brother and friend Steve. It started with an idea. Like most businesses, we wrote a business plan. We went through the exercises of conceptualizing this and thinking about how it would work. It's interesting because we're three completely different people. We all have different passions. We started in May of 2010 with ten staff members, which three of us were owners. From the beginning, we divided and conquered. Who was going to be in charge of the staff or the finances or all the marketing and branding? And from the very beginning, the dynamic just worked out incredible.

(Zach) I graduated with a degree in finance. I'm the one who knows everything that's going on, in terms of cash coming in and going out. I oversee the finances and growth and development. I work with developers and brokers and bankers, making sure that our business is strong and moving forward.

(Josh) My degree was in consumer sciences. I studied consumer products, consumer behavior. What I do on a daily basis is educate and motivate our staff, and I spend time talking to as many customers as possible.

(Stephan) I studied entrepreneurship and marketing in college. Mostly I focus on marketing, branding, design-- how we can market to our customers, not only digitally but also in-store, making great impressions on every customer.

(Zach) How do you get ready? You dig in. Ask questions and educate yourself as much as possible. That education comes in different ways. I studied public companies online. You can educate yourself on what other companies are doing. My favorite class in high school was calculus. I was interested in making things add up and balance. I was interested in numbers. I always carry my calculator.

(Josh) In high school, I was focused on sports. Team camaraderie, team morale, the idea of learning how to take an individual effort and combine that into a team-oriented success. But I think that social studies and math play a big part in my career right now. Learning that the world is a dynamic place and there's many different people. And then math, obviously. You gotta learn how to manage sales and study your demographics and how to manage inventory. I wanted to do everything. I still do. I was a Boy Scout, eventually became an Eagle Scout, and through that process, I tapped into a lot of curiosities in a physical form, like working with my hands, putting up a tent, fishing, canoeing, kayaking. That kind of living in the present, right here, right now, gave me the curiosity and confidence to figure it out. After college, I knew I wanted to work for myself doing something that made a difference. I started a few businesses when I was in college. That was an eye-opening experience. I actually started a leaf-blowing business with Stephan in high school, learning work ethic and working hard and asking the right questions. I worked as a hotel bellman in Aspen, Colorado, I sold mortgages over the phone, and you start networking and talking to people about your dreams and aspirations. You learn from everything you do along the way.

(Josh) I was in commercial real estate and worked a night job. And I just worked. I learned that if you want something, you have to go out and get it and earn it. You learn a lot by just working and listening and building relationships with people. For us, it's about kaizen. It's a Japanese term for "continuous improvement."

(Stephan) What do I like about what I do? We have this way of encouraging people to overcome a stigma, a stereotype, and it comes by way of sushi. People say every day, "I would have never eaten sushi." Or "I always thought sushi was raw fish." I think that that transcends sushi. We encourage people to think differently or maybe step outside of their comfort zone a bit, and that's where the excitement is. What gets me out of bed in the morning? I'm a fan of eating healthy and living an active lifestyle, playing as well as working hard and serving others. I've always wanted to make people happy. I like making a difference and having a vision and pushing forward.

(Josh) My all-time favorite thing working in a restaurant is getting somebody to try sushi for the first time and to see their eyes light up with joy. There's nothing I don't like about Fusian. Not one thing. I am happy every day. I enjoy everything I'm doing. Yes, there are challenges every day, but I love the challenge.

(Zach) One of our biggest challenges is people. Happy team members make happy customers. If we continue to have the best team, we'll be successful. Edamame, please! Heard. We can create a lot of jobs and opportunities for people, and that's the exciting part about growth. When you're a young company, it's expensive to grow. If you're monitoring the finances right, you can make good decisions and continue to move forward.

(Stephan) We've just opened our fifth store. Right now we employ anywhere between 100 and 115 employees, which is really exciting.

(Josh) Our goal is create as many opportunities as possible. We have more deals in the pipeline to continue to create jobs, feed more mouths, and make impacts in the communities that we serve. Our goal in 10 or 20 years, is for people to think of sushi and think of Fusian.

(Zach) We're creating emotional connections through the Fusian experience. If we can make a difference in what people are eating and making them healthier, we really feel like we're making a difference.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Three entrepreneurs tell how they pooled their college education and individual talents to create a successful chain of fast and casual sushi restaurants. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 8 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
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Episode 3
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Episode 4
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Episode 8
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