When Warrick Chu founded what is now the 21-location Qoola Frozen Yogurt Bar in mid-2008, he did not want to simply open a yogurt store. He wanted to change the way people ate.
Focused on offering organic products that did not contain genetically modified ingredients, he knew that his pricing would have to be higher than that of competitors who used cheaper raw materials.
His concept found traction almost immediately, and it led to the addition of three stores within the year.
“A lot of people were contacting us so we signed a deal in 2009 for the first franchise to open later that year,” Chu told Business in Vancouver. “We started opening about three to four new franchises each year and it just took off from there.”
Born in Manila, Chu bounced around as a child, attending 11 schools in six countries. He achieved a bachelor of science in commerce at Santa Clara University in California and then moved to New York to work at what is now EY.
He moved to San Francisco in 2006 and was part of a seven-person Goldman, Sachs & Co. team that managed more than US$2.7 billion in assets for high-net-worth individuals, families and foundations.
A stint as co-CEO of an energy-sector startup in 2008 was short as the company foundered, but the failure didn’t extinguish Chu’s entrepreneurial zeal. He founded Qoola the same year.
Outside work, Chu is active with his TWQ Foundation, which aims to be “the guiding light for foster children” through teaching, connecting and helping them to live healthy lives, he said.
Other philanthropic endeavours that Chu is active with include raising money for The Lipstick Project, which provides manicures and beauty services to people who are at the end of their lives. He also raised money for Habitat for Humanity Philippines after the Southeast Asian archipelago was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Qoola’s annual systemwide sales top $10 million from 21 locations across Canada including one store that is corporately owned. Chu plans to launch his first location in Washington state next year through a joint venture.
“We want to learn about the U.S. market by having a corporate store first,” he said. “Then we can start opening franchises.”
Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.