Yogen Fruz’s Michael Serruya Recounts His Best Mistake


Michael Serruya is not a new face to foodservice, having established the successful Yogen Früz franchise 27 years ago with his brothers. Since then, he was president, CEO and chairman of CoolBrands International Inc. — a large frozen-dessert production company in the States — until it was sold in 2008. Today, Serruya and his family are the largest shareholders in the U.S.-based Jamba Juice chain, and they also own Yogurty’s, a growing chain with 50 locations. But, it doesn’t end there.

This past summer, the Serruyas acquired controlling interest in the Arizona-based Kahala Corp., which owns 15 QSR brands, including Cold Stone Creamery. Aside from his other endeavors, the founder and CEO remains firmly entrenched in Yogen Früz, which continues to expand worldwide. Although, the frozen-yogurt chain never became a “mistake,” it could have been, had its founders not worked hard to make their vision a reality.

What was the best “mistake” you made in your career?
The best “mistake” I made in my career was ignoring people who told us Yogen Früz would never be a success. When my brothers and I first set out to launch Yogen Früz in 1986, there was no shortage of naysayers. Many took the initiative to offer their opinion on why the concept was flawed. We pushed on, and thanks to a combination of determination, naiveté and lack of experience, we continued on our path. So, I’d have to say that my “best mistake” would be refusing to give up on our big dream.

What did you learn from your “mistake?”
What we learned most from our mistake, or rather our unrelenting persistence, is that there is no crystal ball for success. If you believe strongly about something then you should pursue it. The success of the Yogen Früz brand, for example, has far exceeded our expectations. Yogen Früz has rapidly expanded internationally in the past 27 years and now boasts 1,400 stores in more than 46 countries. Newly opened stores located in popular downtown shopping areas in Amsterdam, Holland and Stockholm, Sweden feature cutting-edge design, extending the now globally recognized brand that all started with very humble beginnings. In 2012, we successfully opened Yogen Früz stores in 20 countries, including Aruba, Brunei, Curacao, Greece, India (South and East), Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Lebanon, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the Caribbean, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Venezuela.

How has this “mistake” shaped your future decisions?
Although I believe that one has to learn from experience, it’s also important to keep an open mind, try new things — never stop being a dreamer. Watching our organization increase in size over the years, this philosophy remains a part of our company mandate. Although it’s important to maintain a company culture that is professional and accountable, we try our best to cultivate an entrepreneurial environment where our employees are not afraid to take risks. Ultimately, creative ideas come from thinking outside the box and taking risks. 

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