Ask the Alumni: Kyle Miholich talks about Fiji Yogurt
Owner of Fiji Yogurt, Kyle Miholich, offers his experience on creating a business.
Miholich was 22 when he started his business and was a senior at the University of San Diego when he started drawing up the plans.
“I started mapping out my ideas senior year,” Miholich said. “I was taking an entrepreneur class and we had a project where we had to design a business plan. I realized that frozen yogurt places did really well and there weren’t any really close by.”
Besides building his business plans at USD, Miholich also made many life-long relationships and met his future wife.
Miholich was born and raised in San Diego and moving away from the city was not an option for him.
Miholich’s experience at USD helped prepare him for real world business, but he stresses that the actual experience of being in business is invaluable.
“Some of the classes were helpful, but mainly it was experiencing first hand and learning on the go, being able to adapt to changes, realizing that not everything goes perfectly and not everything goes your way, and learning to learn to accept that,” Miholich said.
Miholich’s path was solidified after he attended graduate school for three weeks. As a senior, he had no idea what he wanted to do beyond USD, he played with the idea of being a lawyer for a little bit, but decided that running his own business suited him better.
“Opening the business was a great experience,” Miholich said. “It was really fun, but it was a whole lot of work and a whole lot of hours. I also learned a lot.”
Starting Fiji Yogurt came with a lot of fears and headaches. Like anyone starting a business, Miholich worried that it would not catch on, it would not work, or it would not profit.
“Everyone has that fear,” Miholich said. “You just have to push through and work a little bit harder.”
When he started up his business he was working day-to-day operations in the Fiji Yogurt shop on Linda Vista, and he was putting in a lot of hours.
However, opening up new stores created some unforeseen problems.
Once he started opening other locations he had to develop an operation system due to the the fact that he could not be in all of the different store locations at one time.
Another problem that came with opening new stores was franchising. Around 2009 and 2010, Miholich decided that he wanted to try to franchise his brand.
It cost a lot of money to try to put together and a lot of preparation. Franchising is one thing that Miholich wishes he could have done differently.
“I would have opened one less store because when it came to franchise we didn’t have the time or capital to market ourselves and compete with other brands,” Miholich said. “If I could change it I would have opened one less store and hired a marketing director or someone that was knowledgeable in that field. If I had done that we probably could have pulled it off, but after a couple of years of trying ourselves, we had to pull the plug.”
Starting a business is never easy, but Miholich offers some advice to help along the way. Miholich believes that the best way to learn is through real world experience and your failures.
“The things you learn from classes, school and textbooks don’t match what you learn in the real-world,” Miholich said. “People get obsessed with GPA and how they do in classes, but in the end none of that matters.”
The best way to get real-world experiences, in Miholich’s opinion, is through internships, mentors, and part-time jobs that you really enjoy.
“Try something on your own or partner with other smaller businesses in an industry you can see yourself working in,” Miholich said. “Start small. Fail early and fail cheap.”