My name is Ian So. I am the co-founder/owner of Chicken & Rice Guys. I am the CEO and responsible for setting the internal direction, expansion and culture of the company, overseeing operations, finance, fundraising, and building relationships with external partners.
My greatest success so far has been starting my own business, and growing what was one food truck we bought online, to now a 5 food truck, 4 restaurant company. As the ultimate leader of my company, I am my own biggest challenge. We have doubled in revenue and in employees every year. And as we have doubled, I have had to keep pace as a leader and double my leadership ability.
Starting my own business has afforded me so many ways to learn about myself and the world, and I would love to have others have that same opportunity. That’s why I founded the Asian Entrepreneurship Foundation, to share the gift of, and support, entrepreneurship in the Asian community. I also love seeing our own employees grow and develop. The food industry is extremely tough, there’s very little financial reward or glamour for most. So it’s pretty awesome to see our people, many of whom come from tough backgrounds and situations, find a home and career at Chicken & Rice Guys.
Chicken & Rice Guys is committed to supporting the community as well as our employees. Through the Chicken & Rice Guys Foundation, the charitable arm of Chicken & Rice Guys, we have donated 4,200 meals to the Women’s Lunch Place. We have also developed a partnership with Triangle Inc., a job training facility for people with mental and physical disabilities. To date, Chicken & Rice Guys has integrated multiple people working on a daily basis and providing 160 hours on a monthly basis. Chicken & Rice Guys also sponsors inner city students to start businesses through the BUILD program, and provides free food to blood donors at Mass General Hospital. We donate gift cards and free food to dozens of nonprofits in the Boston Metro Area, including the Jimmy Fund.
I really like the small town charm Boston has, but still has that big city feel. I wish more young people would see Boston as a place to settle down and start a life. Too many of my friends move to the West Coast because of the weather, or they feel there are not enough social and professional opportunities in Boston. I think young people should realize the value of home and community is about the personal connections you build over time.
What advice would you give to the aspiring leaders and changemakers among Boston's millennial population?
As millennials, we have access to the most information of any previous generation. But with all that information, there will never be a substitute for wisdom and experience. I hired my first professional manager a year ago and the two subsequent professionals I hired since have been invaluable.
SPARK IMPACT AWARDS
SPARK Boston is Mayor Walsh’s millennial engagement initiative. Our mission is to engage the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in the work of city government. From dedicated public servants to community builders and connectors, millennials are some of Boston’s most impactful citizens. Each year, the City of Boston celebrates the millennial contribution to our city with the Annual SPARK Impact Awards.