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Meet Mike Baum of Pho King Kitchen and Food Truck, Paradise Melts Food Truck in South Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Baum.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I graduated in 2009 with an MBA (right at the height of the great recession) from Thunderbird. Companies were struggling to survive and were not hiring MBAs, so I was pretty much forced into entrepreneurship. It was a hard time in my life, but that struggle paved the way to my experimentation with entrepreneurship. Little did I know that entrepreneurship would be my greatest passion and lifelong pursuit.

My first entrepreneurial project was a solar company that I started with some guys. We did off-grid solar for critical infrastructure sites like telecom and border patrol. The work was pretty dry and I lost my passion for the work. After a few years, I sold my shares and bought a food truck.

The food and beverage game is tough, but it has enabled me to pursue an artistic career that is most assuredly not dry. Pho King was the first food truck. It took us a few years to figure out the game and to really design a unique menu that works in Phoenix. After four and a half years, I decided that I either needed to expand or get out of the food truck game entirely. So, I opened a brick and mortar location. Eight months later, the opportunity to acquire another food truck presented itself and I took it. Now My company operates Pho King Food Truck, Pho King Kitchen, and Paradise Melts Food Truck.

Building this company has been difficult, interesting, joyous, scary, and has had a profound effect on my outlook on life. I have made tremendous sacrifices in order to keep the business healthy. Of course, I will spare you the details of my sacrifices because no one wants to hear that, but it has changed my perception what is necessary and what is important in life.

Money is a great tool, however, what is most important to me in life is to build awesome shit. Delicious food, beautiful paintings, well functioning companies, efficient kitchen spaces…..These are the achievements that are important to me. And, in that sense, while not rich in money terms, I am rich in what makes me happy.

Has it been a smooth road?
Every two weeks, payroll is due. That is the livelihood of the people I employ. I do not take that responsibility lightly, so money is a daily concern. Cashflow, sales, unforeseen expenses….these are all terms that you hear from all entrepreneurs as concerns, but to live with them is something very different.

It has not been a smooth road. It has been a struggle since day one. I no longer live in my house. Instead, I rent it on Airbnb in order to reduce my expenses. I have been betrayed by employees that I thought were close. People lie and cheat and let you down, but what option do you have but to keep on moving forward. I work every day. Not five days a week – every.damn.day. Why? Because I refuse to be beaten.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Pho King Kitchen and Food Truck – Asian Fusion food truck and restaurant. www.phokinghungry.com

Paradise Melts Food Truck – Gourmet Grilled Sandwiches – www.paradisemelts.com

Notable accomplishments:
Top 10 Food Trucks, Phoenix Magazine, 2017
Top 11 Food Trucks, AZ Central, 2017
Top 10 Pho Restaurants in Arizona, Best Things AZ, 2017
Best Sandwiches in the Valley, ABC 15, 2017
Nominee to the AZ Culinary Hall of Fame, Best Food Truck, 2017
Best Valley Food Trucks, Phoenix Business Journal, 2014-16

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The valley is a great place to start a business. The cost of living is low, which is key for an entrepreneur to survive the tough first years of business.

Contact Info:

 

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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