silhouette of boat on sea during sunset 
Photo byAhmed Yameen on Unsplash

Pivoting your way from not surviving to thriving

When Daiji Uehara joined Founder Institute, he envisioned himself enabling chefs to start home-based businesses. Before beginning in earnest, he shifted to helping dying small restaurants adapt to the pandemic.

That didn’t work out. This is not surprising; most initial ideas for startups don’t work out. Most companies either pivot or fail or both.

And while pivoting isn’t unusual, a pivot onto a yacht is!

Daiji’s create a yacht dining experience. Freshly prepare tasting menus with the chef describing each dish. And Xenia was (re)born!

Photo by Xenia

Rather than bringing food to people’s houses, he brings tiny groups (4 people at a time) onto a yacht for a memorable dining experience. It’s not quite as hard as it sounds.

The first key insight here is that the boat doesn’t have to move! An on yacht experience can provide at the pier. No captain. No seasickness. No problem if someone has to suddenly leave. It’s brilliant.

The first key problem is that yacht owners don’t want to rent out their boats for this type of use. So, Daiji bought a boat. He hopes that the level of success will bring credibility that will convince boat owners to rent out their ships. If not, then scaling by buying boats sounds hard.

Experience you actually enjoy rather the ones to just brag about on social media.

Xenia is doing well at attracting customers mainly through AirBnB Experiences and referrals. After a few months of this business model, he is almost selling out.

The prices have to be quite high ($140-$200 per person) because the capacity is so small. Still, there are plenty of people lining up for this experience. You can join the line, and while you are welcome to tell that that “Russell sent you,” I don’t think it will help. (Smile.)

For those of you have that haven’t been following the trends of the world, this is a Xenia is a prime example of a unique, intimate, experience you actually enjoy rather than super expensive prestigious ones that are more fun to brag about on social media than they are to do.

Separate from the problem of needing boats, in order to scale, Xenia needs precisely the right chefs. Chefs that not only can prepare the meals but also can be entertainers and storytellers.

Definitely a success for N of one. Can it be effectively scaled? Only time will tell.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals


Cookie Monsters not on Sesame Street.


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