Take one talented but frustrated cook, add a food truck with a good concept, and a sprinkling of social media savvy. Voila--you have an entrepreneurial story that these days probably sounds a little familiar to Inc. readers. 

Even so, there are some good reasons to see the recently released movie Chef, which tells just such a story. The indie comedy is chock-full of useful takeaways for entrepreneurs.

The story centers on down-on-his-luck chef Carl Casper, who quits his job at a fancy Los Angeles restaurant and decides to test out a food truck business selling Cuban sandwiches. The idea seems like a long shot, but Carl turns his business into something of a sensation during a cross-country trip. Part film, part case study, Chef highlights the ingredients that contribute to a successful startup. Here are some of the movie's useful lessons:

Failure is a great place to start.

After quitting his job, Carl lashes out at a food critic during a public meltdown that goes viral on the Internet. His reputation ruined, he decides to hit the road with the food truck, which gains steam quickly. The lesson? Failure is no excuse not to start a business. And Carl starts his new venture the low-risk way: by testing the concept on the road with real customers. 

Pick your partners wisely.

In the film, Carl enlists the help of his friend Martin, one of the cooks from his restaurant, to work in the food truck. The Cuban-born Martin has a natural passion for the food, but more important is their history together. It's another great reminder of the importance of selecting a trustworthy partner who will stick it out with you through those very challenging early days.

Use social media at every turn.

One of the food truck's greatest strengths is the marketing genius of Carl's social media-savvy son Percy, who constantly promotes the business on Twitter. By geotagging the truck's every stop and creating hashtags and Vine videos, Percy builds a following that serves as a social media tutorial.

Of course, take business lessons from Hollywood with a grain of salt. This is, after all, a feel-good movie whose story bypasses the false starts and growing pains many businesses go through. What's more, some of Carl's success can be attributed to dumb luck. 

At the very least, Chef offers some entrepreneurial inspiration--and some serious food for thought. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?


Published on: Jun 20, 2014