Our #MCM is Grayson Shurett, a University of Georgia graduate and entrepreneur. He started his own Mediterranean food distribution business, Taza, two years ago while in college with a fellow economics student, Tony Abdelmalek.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
What makes our business truly unique is everything. Taza started from nothing. We actually first funded ourselves with a 100$ bill found on the ground. We have truly never acquired debt for this reason. In addition to zero debt, Taza’s business model of distributing our product into every restaurant rather than opening our own retail is a rare and new idea. We also created a new genre of food (southern Mediterranean) that easily introduces the Mediterranean diet to the unfamiliar people of the south. Most importantly, our business is founded on deeply seeded morals and faith. We have designed every aspect of our business with the community in mind. We want to take care of the world while innovating the food industry.
2. What motivates you?
Setting an example. I look around the world today and tell myself that there has to be a better way of doing things. I want to show the world that a morally good business can go just as far as any other ‘for-profit’ business. There is a way to make a profit but also change lives and the community.
3. Who is a hero of yours?
Professor Chris Hanks. He was our mentor and entrepreneurship professor. He challenged us every day to push ourselves and achieve our dreams. He once told us, "you may have the best excuse in the world for losing. Your reason for losing may be completely valid, but at the end of the day, you still lost. Your excuses will not save you from failure. In fact, they assure it. You have to pick yourself up and get back in the game because that is the only way to win.” That really stuck with us.
4. What's your future plan? Your goals?
We eventually plan on growing all of our produce through hydroponics. We want to create an efficient and effective way to mass produce quality food for a much cheaper price for the consumer. Solving world hunger, no matter how big a task, is a problem we see ourselves tackling in the future.
5. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
To anyone out there trying to start their own business or hustling every day to make ends meet, know that the absolute first step to success is to make sure that your work focuses on helping others. That should be the foundation for whatever you do. Aiding others provides not only a need, but also changes lives in the process. Once you start changing lives and working to serve others, the rest falls in place like a puzzle piece. From this, blessings will come, funding will come, you will meet the right people, and you will be an example that everyone follows. You will start receiving a lot of good attention for your work. As the great Zig Ziglar said, "you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
6. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
I strongly believe that cooperation is far more effective than competition.
7. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?
Getting escorted off campus by the authorities in the middle of our Falafel Friday event while there was a huge line of student and faculty customers waiting to be served. For four months straight, we would set up a food stand on Fridays at the music school and sell food to the students and faculty. It became wildly successful and eventually drew enough attention from campus authorities that they eventually had to remove us for not having a permit. It was a bold risk we took but we would do it again in a heartbeat.
8. Any additional advice?
Be selfless. It is far more blessed to give than receive. Give to others and you will receive gifts far greater than you would have ever imagined. It just takes a little bit of faith.
If you would like to contact Grayson, Tony, and/or their business for networking opportunities you can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org