DukeGEN With Shaan Puri of Sabi Sushi (formerly Wasabi) | Duke University Entrepreneurs

Spent some time researching the entrepreneurial eco-system at Duke University where the school recently announced Microsoft Education division creator and Duke BA/PhD/Faculty member Kimberly Jenkins as special assistant to the president and provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Here is an interview with Shaan Puri, team member of Sabi Sushi, a fast-casual sushi concept that won the 2010 Duke Start-up Challenge.

Tell us what it was like to win the Duke Start-Up Challenge in April 2010. Were you surprised?

Huge surprise. As far as we knew, in order to win we were going to have to become the first all-undergraduate team to win, and the first non-technology based start-up to win. The night before the final pitch, we couldn’t figure out how we would beat the tough competition because they were what you think of as traditionally lucrative businesses: innovative web and biotech start-ups.

You know, big market, big margin ideas founded by Professors and MBA/PHD students, not a restaurant concept by undergrads with no experience. It seemed hopeless.

Around 2 a.m. the night before the final pitch, we decided to embrace who we were rather than wishing we had a biotech invention and MBAs. We stayed up all night making this video to start our presentation. We then wrote a more passionate than professional final pitch, because that was the truth. Rather than pretending to be business men, which the VC judges would’ve seen through, we just acted like ourselves. That meant taking risks, being creative, and telling our story with conviction.

It appears the team is opening the restaurant in Boulder, CO soon. Also, anybody think there video is similar to the Grasshopper video — Entrepreneurs Can Change the World? Wonder if they saw it in class? (I typically show it to my students on the first night of New Venture Creation)

via Student to Founder Series: DukeGEN sits down with Shaan Puri of Sabi Sushi (formerly Wasabi) – Duke Global Entrepreneurship Network (DukeGEN).


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