Ryan Smolkin attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario where he participated in the Business Co-Op Program. As a part of this program he engaged in various marketing positions with companies including Union Gas, AT&T and Newbridge Technologies. As a student, Smolkin established several successful business ventures including a sporting goods importing firm, a vacation planning service for students, and a portfolio of rental property investments.
After graduating with his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at WLU in '95, his entrepreneurial spirit could not be suppressed, and Smolkin established AmoebaCorp, a graphic design and branding company in Toronto, Ontario. With Smolkin as its leader, AmoebaCorp emerged as a nationally-recognized, industry-leading firm with a client list including Nike, Molson, Corus Entertainment and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
As its President and Chief Executive Officer, Smolkin spearheaded and negotiated the merger of AmoebaCorp with John St. Advertising in November 2006. Subsequent to the merger, Smolkin remained with the company for six months during which time he helped expand the company well beyond all estimates and forecasts before leaving in May 2007.
After enjoying a year hanging out with his newborn twin boys, Nate and Sam, Smolkin began the development of the Smoke’s Poutinerie Franchise, building a National Poutine Empire in just 3 short years.
BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Smoke’s Poutinerie concept.
Ryan Smolkin: Smoke’s Poutinerie is a new, unique concept and the first of its kind in the World as well as a whole new segment in the Quick-Serve Restaurant industry. No other quick-serve restaurant chain offers such a broad menu focusing on Poutine. With over 22 types of Poutine on the menu, the Smoke’s Poutinerie goal is to bring the authentic, quality Quebec classic dish to the rest of the World in an original and unique way! With giant-sized portions of premium, hand-cut Yellow-Fleshed fries, squeaky Quebec cheese curds, multiple choices of gravies and limitless variations of customizable toppings, Smoke’s Poutinerie has captured the hearts and stomachs of people all over the World. A Rewarding Experience is awaiting everyone who walks through the doors of Smoke’s Poutinerie.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Smoke’s Poutinerie?
RS: Founder, CEO and CBO (Chief Branding Officer) of Smoke’s Poutinerie Inc. Creator of a entirely new Food Industry. Started Business Plan in summer 2007 and launched first location in Toronto on Adelaide Street November 20th, 2008.
BTB: What was your background prior to joining Smokes Poutinerie(?
RS: 100% Entrepreneur starting numerous companies from scratch in a diverse set of Industries, with the latest two being: (1) Property Development company - building it from $15,000 in cash to over $4 Million in Assets over 10 years & (2) AmoebaCorp Branding and Graphic Design building it from zero Client Base and experience to a multi-million dollar company with Clients including Nike, Molson, Corus Entertainment and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment before selling to an Ad Agency in November 2006.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Smoke’s Poutinerie franchisee?
RS: In our case, because we are not only a new, fresh Franchise, but also a new Industry stemming from its Poutine routes in Canada (Quebec). So be first to market with this new, unique concept and not be just another burger, sub or pizza joint. Proven, profitable system and Brand Equity and recognition build over 3 years that take most companies decades….if ever. We are the leaders and founders of this new “Poutinerie” Industry and will always maintain our Leadership position.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
RS: Common Sense, Drive, Ambition, Belief in Smoke’s Poutinerie, passion for the concept, love for Poutine and the man Smoke himself. Live, preach and become the Brand.
BTB: Tell us a little about the Poutine Market?
RS: First of Quick-serve restaurant of its kind in the World specific to Poutine. Smoke’s Poutinerie created “Poutinerie”. Now spearheading the new Poutine trend with a lot of knock-offs already starting which is complimentary, but Smoke’s Poutinerie will always be the leader in this new “Poutinerie” Industry we created. Competition is not from other Poutinerie shops (yet) but more from other quick-serve restaurants – all the over-saturated and generic burgers, subs, burritos and pizza joints.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
RS: Be an Industry and Brand Leader. Create a true Brand. Believe in the Brand. Become the Brand. Perception is everything, with perception becoming Reality.
BTB: Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?
RS: Gene Simmons (of Kiss). Brand Leader. Took a concept from nothing to one of the most recognized Brands in the World. Created a true Brand. Believed in his Brand. Became the Brand. Used the perception of being HUGE and bigger then life when they were broke with no fans…and this perception eventually became Reality.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
RS: Research and know what you are getting yourself into. A Franchise doesn’t guarantee success and make you money, only you will make yourself money and become a success. A Franchise just provides you with a strong Brand and proven System to help you get there along with the set-up, training, support, etc. the entire way. Ensure it is a perfect fit on both sides of the table, with mutual respect between Franchisor and Franchisee since you are about to get into a 10-20 year marriage, if not longer.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Smoke’s Poutinerie would be a great opportunity for someone?
RS: Coolest, hottest Franchise in a new, unique Quick-serve restaurant market. Creators and Leaders of the “Poutinerie” Industry. Brand Equity like no other in such a short period of time. Insane revenues per square foot allowing for the start up costs of the small guys, but revenues with the big boys! Hence our National explosion!