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Michael KarschMichael Karsch, CEO and Chairman of Juice Press, is an accomplished entrepreneur with 25 years of diverse business experience. He began his career by establishing a successful hedge fund, growing it from $150 million to $3 billion. Michael then transitioned to the food and beverage industry, acquiring Juice Press, which he expanded from four to 80 stores. His strategies involved scaling businesses, operational insights, and a focus on health-oriented retail. Michael continues to innovate within Juice Press and through catering logistics, constantly seeking new opportunities. He is dedicated to offering premium, healthy food options while exploring franchising avenues.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [1:40] Michael Karsch’s motivation for transitioning from hedge funds to the food and beverage industry
  • [2:41] The attractive qualities of Juice Press that led Michael to invest
  • [5:42] Initial growth strategies for expanding Juice Press
  • [8:55] Michael’s hands-on approach to understanding the ins and outs of Juice Press operations
  • [10:14] Learning by experience and observation in the food business
  • [17:21] Adapting Juice Press to changing market demands and customer behaviors
  • [23:06] Innovating in the retail food space and introducing new product lines
  • [29:04] Michael Karsch’s deliberate approach to franchising Juice Press
  • [33:47] Significant innovations Michael has brought to Juice Press since taking over

In this episode…

Transitioning from one industry to another can reveal unique insights into business management and growth. How does one leverage their previous experiences to successfully navigate a new sector?

According to Juice Press Chairman and CEO Michael Karsch, transitioning from the hedge fund industry to the food and beverage sector necessitated a shift from a passive investment role to a hands-on operational role. This change allowed him to directly influence the company’s destiny, unlike stock picking, where control is limited. His involvement in Juice Press provided an opportunity to create a vertically integrated business, shaping the brand’s entire supply chain and customer experience.

On this episode of the Top Business Leaders Show, Rise25’s Chad Franzen welcomes Michael Karsch, CEO and Chairman of Juice Press, to discuss his secrets to success in the health food sector. From understanding the operational complexities and customer behaviors to innovative product development, Michael shares the intricate journey of expanding Juice Press. He sheds light on the balance between rapid expansion and maintaining high standards while emphasizing the importance of evolving with consumer trends.

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Quotable Moments:

  • “Stock picking is very passive, even when you’re an active stock picker; I really wanted to learn what it was like to be more hands-on and operational.”
  • “You’re always focusing on creating motivations and always pondering iterative operations, versus stock picking.”
  • “In the food space, people love pop-up and Instagramming experiences — you must adapt quickly or get left behind.”
  • “Minimum wage changes and COVID taught me how to reshape the business model quickly.”
  • “People are not loyal to how they get healthy; they’re loyal to platforms that they can trust to make healthy choices.”

Action Steps:

  1. Embrace operational skills alongside investment knowledge — dive into the hands-on aspects of the business to gain valuable insights and control over its direction.
    • Taking a proactive role in day-to-day operations enables better understanding and drives adaptive strategies, as Michael learned by transitioning to the food industry.
  2. Understand and adapt to market demands — stay attuned to consumer preferences and trends to remain relevant and successful.
    • By being receptive to changes, such as increased demand for smoothies over juice, Juice Press could pivot and capture market shifts effectively.
  3. Explore innovative product development — venture into new markets and expand your product offerings based on what your company does well.
    • Michael leveraged Juice Press’s expertise in production and recipe development to create catering logistics and expand into B2B services.
  4. Approach franchising strategically — consider franchising as a method to scale your business but do it thoughtfully to maintain standards and discover the right partners.
    • Taking time to develop initial franchises can create a strong track record and serve as a blueprint for future expansion.
  5. Leverage technological advancements — incorporate technologies that streamline operations, improve product quality, and enhance customer experience.
    • As seen with Juice Press’s use of production facilities for standardized smoothie-making, technology can bolster product consistency and operational efficiency.

Sponsor for this episode


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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by Rise25 Media. We feature top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.

Chad Franzen 0:20

Hi. Chad Franzen, here, co-host for the show, where we feature top restaurateurs, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail, and they have a flagship solution called spot on restaurant, where they combine marketing software and payments all in one they’ve served everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants to learn more, go to This episode is brought to you by rise 25 we help B2B businesses get ROI clients, referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcasts. If you have a B2B business and want to build great relationships with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space. There’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing to learn more, go to or email us at support@Rise25 com. Michael Karsch is my guest today. He’s been an entrepreneur for 25 years and has successfully grown two very different types of businesses, first in the hedge fund industry. He launched a fund with $150 million of assets that grew to $3 billion. Second, he bought Juice Press when it was four stores and grew it to 80 stores. Michael, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you doing?

Michael Karsch 1:30

Very good. Thank you.

Chad Franzen 1:31

Hey, tell me. How did you transition from the hedge fund industry to the food and beverage industry?

Michael Karsch 1:40

Well, there’s different ways of focusing on that, but point number one would be that I was very lucky to have my own hedge fund at a young age, and that afforded me the opportunity to be able to have a second career, because I was able to be successful within five years, like basically five years out of business school. And so therefore, I felt the reason why I wanted to have a second opportunity in a different air, in a different way, was that stock picking is very passive, even when you’re an active stock picker. So unless you’re an activist, I really wanted to learn what it was like to be more hands on and operational and have more of a vision that I can control its destiny more than stocks.

Chad Franzen 2:36

What was it about Juice Press that attracted you to invest.

Michael Karsch 2:41

It was a small company, as you said, four stores. Lot of passion behind the brand, the cult. There’s like a cult following in an area of the market, health orientation that I was excited about, and I loved the sort of vertical integration. I didn’t want to be a retailer that just selling other people’s stuff. I wanted to be able to put my own imprint on it and create, hopefully, more value by having, you know, controlling the whole kind of the supply chain much more I grew up, you know, as it grew up, more, like my teenage college years, like cool brands, like at the time gap was a cool brand. And like even, like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory when I was a little bit in college, and and J Crew and I always liked how they were able to curate their own experience in the store, rather than just being a reseller, and that’s what juice press was,

Chad Franzen 3:45

Very interesting. So were you a customer, like an avid customer, or anything, of Juice Press? Prior to investing?

Michael Karsch 3:52

I was a medium one, but I got involved in stages. My wife was already and her bunch of her friends were more of the early adopters. Early on juice press was, was more like seven, at least 70% female. And now I would say it’s like 60% you know, it’s a pretty dramatic difference. Actually, guys are focusing or whatever, you know, proper identification. But a lot more people are trying to live this type of lifestyle than before, whether it’s plant based, just eating better for you, or, frankly, just eating premium. You know, I think fast food in general has not really caught the wave of premium. And a lot of other things in in consumer world have become more premium over time, meaning like Soul Cycle or Equinox, and people in other cities desirous of of living a certain elevated having those elevated the type of interactions, experiences, you know, obviously a whole food versus traditional supermarket, etc, but in fast food, it, you know, the traditional, larger box fast food is still the same thing, Chipotle. Would be considered more premium. And then, of course, there’s a lot of people, but they’re more generally, more in the decadent space, like the melt shops or, you know, taco play, you know, like more exciting, interesting taco places that are trying to be like the next gen. And in my own way, that’s what we’re trying to do, is be our own next gen in this Grab and Go beverage led fast food.

Chad Franzen 5:42

How long ago was it that you invested in Juice Press as a four store entity?

Michael Karsch 5:47

10 years ago.

Chad Franzen 5:48

10 years ago. So take me through kind of the first steps. You know, you had obviously been very successful with your hedge fund. Now you’re getting into this kind of, this kind of, this new industry, what, what were the first steps when you got started?

Michael Karsch 6:01

At first, I was more of a passive investor. More was about trying to understand what the drivers are of the business, trying to understand how I can create a scalable outcome. And frankly, you know, like, like, this is, you know, it’s entrepreneurship. You don’t know what you don’t know. And, and I think coming from a stock picking perspective, you know, I learned fairly early on the difference between being an operator and being a stock picker. And, and that’s a, I think it’s a very exciting realization, and it’s certainly a very stimulating one, and a growing one in terms of growth, personal growth and professional growth. But I have a lot of respect for operators, because, you know, stock picking, you’re just looking at things at a, at a, you know, sort of a 10,000 now, let’s call it that I was flying at, like 1000 feet level, you know, level. And you’re talking about being, you know, really in the trenches, and interacting with people all day long, and thinking about creating motivations and and always, like, it’s ITER, it’s really iterative, you know, the ops versus the stock picking. You know, stock picking sort of like, okay, I’m going to invest, maybe invest a small position, grow it, get a chance to meet the CFO CEO, do some channel checks. And then you’re thinking about, like, okay, what can I do to try to create legal, differentiated research here, it’s like, you can’t control COVID and those type of exogenous factors, or minimum wage. So those are kind of the exogenous factors, you know, stocks, you just can’t control day to day, like, but that, and that’s like a constant in terms of that feeling. And you can’t tell them what to do. You can’t really tell management what to do. Here. It was different, you know, it was like, I really woke up to like, geez, you know, I have to understand how the business really works in order to affect change. So you’re, like, always interacting with, like recipe development and costing the esthetics, but the esthetic like, or even like in the quality of the product, like the taste of it, versus the price point, versus the you know, so what margin are you getting? One of the calories in this case, like nutrition, calorie counts and, you know, shelf life and and so there’s just, like, so many more variables that go into your decision making process.

Chad Franzen 8:46

So what went into learning, to learning, all of that stuff? Did you just start working in a store? Did you work at multiple stores to just visit all four of them?

Michael Karsch 8:55

Kind of visiting the stores all the time. I was working in stores. But you know, I think, like somebody, you know, it’s like, the more you the more the smarter you are, the more you realize what you don’t know. So it’s like, I always feel like, you know, I hadn’t felt that way in stock picking after the first like, I don’t know decade or so, but like, here, it’s like, oh, I can’t believe I didn’t realize that. Now I know that, and now I’m going to figure this out. And then you’re like, a month later, you’re like, Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t know these three things. I wish I knew those now. I’m going to fix that. So there’s, like, always things, like, you always wish, like, Oh, I wish I had figured out how to get there faster, and they can, like, be late, you know, go back in your mind, like, I wish I had gone faster. But the reality is, is, like, you have to live these scenarios. Look at them in different ways. Find maybe different people. Maybe the environment changes that’s definitely happened, and therefore strategy changes, or or something that wasn’t possible before. Now, technologically is possible, or consumer demand was in a certain way before, and now it is. And so you’re constantly going through those, those thought processes at this stage of our development.

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