When Scott Nelowet and his wife Jennifer took his parents to Europe in 2010 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, little did he know that the trip would inspire an idea for a franchise.
"In Amsterdam, I saw these places selling gourmet fries," he said. "In America, french fries are filler food, not a side dish. I thought bringing something like this back home, a business that sold gourmet fries as a snack, made perfect sense."
Although Nelowet already had a six-figure job as president of a private college in Jacksonville, he longed to do something entrepreneurial.
Nelowet began testing the idea by working the festival circuit. "I quit my job and spent $20,000 on an old beat-up van, equipment and supplies. I toured all over Florida and sold fries with seven different sauces at fairs," he said.
By October 2011, Nelowet had made enough money to open his first French Fry Heaven store in Jacksonville. It offered regular and sweet potato fries, with a choice of more than 51 sauces, spices and sea salt toppings. He made a profit his first year.
He sold his first franchised location in 2012. His company currently has 3 franchised stores and has sold another 69 franchised stores.
Key to his success, said Nelowet: "I took an ordinary product and kicked it up 50 notches."