By Marisa Upson on October 3, 2023
Recently, Mathew Focht, Founder and CEO of EMERGING, had the pleasure of speaking with Mike LaVitola, co-founder and chairman of Foxtrot and an advisor for EMERGING Fund. If you haven’t yet heard of Foxtrot, you will. This brand, in many ways, defines the preferences of today’s consumers. It’s about convenience, great food (local and national), sustainability, effortless delivery, and an app. They’ve definitely checked all the boxes.
So, what exactly is Foxtrot? It’s a convenience store. Surprising, I know. It’s really the convenience store we’ve all dreamed about, a place to stop in for the best coffee, food, alcoholic beverages, and non-alcoholic drinks when you’re on your way to work or heading home after a late night with friends. Think local food, handpicked wines, and fresh chef-prepared meals. They also offer delivery and takeout. They also promote sustainability.
What Inspired You To Do Foxtrot?
After college, I moved to Austin, Texas, and one of the things I loved about that city was there was such a vibrant scene around food and beverage. There were amazing craft breweries getting started, tequila bars, incredible taquerias, and delicious bakeries. It infused everything around the city and really made it an amazing place to live.
And so, when I moved back to Chicago, one of the things that struck me was that the same scene existed here but in disparate parts of the city. And it certainly didn’t exist in the retail spaces where customers shop most, which are ultimately convenience stores. No matter where I moved in the city, I found there was always a convenience store on every corner, but it was never filled with the kind of products that I knew were delicious and innovative. These places were spread across the city but not next door.
And so, what Foxtrot was ultimately about was curating all the great, delicious things happening in the city and elsewhere and putting it into a format that I think people thought of as, you know, pretty tired.
What Is Your Role at the EMERGING Fund?
I’m excited to be an advisor at EMERGING Fund because it really sits at the intersection of the two most critical things for emerging concepts. The first one is location, data and analytics, and site selection. And then two, once you find those great concepts that are producing and growing, infusing technology into them so that they can do so in a capital-efficient way and in a way that empowers teams and gives great experiences to customers.
I haven’t seen the combination of those two pieces of the business anywhere else. EMERGING Fund can offer immense value for founders in terms of deep domain expertise, so it’s not talking in generalities about strategy going forward.
It is a roster and a bench of CEOs, founders, and operators who have been there, done that, and are doing it across hundreds of thousands of locations. They can give advice and mentorship in very candid and practical ways that most investors simply can’t.