Entrepreneur who built business on a whim now coaches other start-ups.
Occupation: Entrepreneur and founder of The Fresh Diet
Family status: Married, with a daughter and two sons
Lives in: Surfside
Zalmi Duchman approaches business the way Nike sells shoes: He operates under a “just do it” philosophy. “What I find is that in corporate America, and in a lot of companies, the biggest thing that holds them back is that there is no entrepreneur willing to take risks … there isn’t that person that’s willing to ‘just do it,’” says Duchman, who two years ago was featured as one of “America’s Most Promising CEOs Under 35” by Forbes magazine.
Duchman revolutionized weight loss and healthy eating with a door-to-door delivery system known as The Fresh Diet. He advertised the company by making deliveries in a Hummer and a Mini Cooper, both emblazoned with the company’s contact information and images of fresh food. The vehicles also served as a subliminal message of “before” and “after” images common to successful diets, with the larger Hummer representing the “before,” and the Mini a more svelte silhouette.
Duchman started the business in 2005 from his apartment with an initial outlay of $500. In August, the publicly traded Innovative Food Holdings (IVFH) bought the company for $13million, or 10million shares valued at $1.30 at the time of acquisition, Duchman says. He retains an advisory role with the company but is focusing more on angel investments these days, helping other start-ups build their business via courses and coaching at Venture Hive.
From Duchman: “The most important thing from my story is the fact that I started this business on a whim. I didn’t do market research. I didn’t write a business plan. I just had an idea and I went with it.”
About Duchman: “It’s not hard work when you’re enjoying it, and with Zalmi, you enjoy it. He’s so passionate. The way he talks about the business gets other people excited.” — Fresh Diet chef Yos Schwartz (who is also Duchman’s former yeshiva roommate)