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Small Business Spotlight

Success Amplified: An Interview with Matt Matros of Protein Bar

Damian Silver, the Chamber's Director of Small Business Services and Development; Matt Matros, Founder of Protein Bar; and John Roberson, the Chamber's Executive Director of SBDC and ITC. Matros won the inaugural James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award last June.

Learning from your peers who have traveled the same challenging road as you is a great way to foresee operational challenges and gain revenue success. Amptopia has partnered with SBDC to establish a monthly feature focused on small businesses and start-ups who have agreed to share their key learning experiences on their way to success.

This month, Amptopia spoke with The Protein Bar, a local restaurant who’s expanded their franchise throughout the loop as well as Washington, D.C. with a single mission to provide busy urban professionals with a meal healthy alternative without sacrificing quality or flavor. Our discussion focused not only the challenges The Protein Bar faced during their start-up phase, but also reflected on what has helped them continue to grow and what they believe is the key to start-up success.

1. Please describe your business. Who are your target customers?

We provide healthy & delicious meal choices for urban professionals. Similar to many professionals working in the loop, their schedules are unpredictable and usually time constrained especially when it comes time to prepare a meal at home. The Protein Bar offers a perfect “any-time” healthy meal solution.

We’ve been open since 2009 with 5 stores in the Chicago Loop and 1 in the Washington DC area. We’re in a growth mode right now with plans to expand in both metro areas. With each new store we traditionally hire 40 to 50 people, and we’ve been very lucky to find a great staff.

2. What is one of the greatest marketing and/or sales challenge you had to address in your start-up phase?

We don’t do much traditional advertising, but we do depend heavily on word of mouth and believe our best marketing is a good experience. This is also why we spend so much time in training our team members and store managers to ensure our customers always have a great experience when they come to The Protein Bar.

One of our greatest key learning’s when we first opened was a quick realization that if we are going to make it downtown we needed to expand our menu beyond protein shakes, and serve meals as well. People leave the office once a day, and that’s to eat lunch. When we added food, things took off pretty quickly.

3. From a revenue generation perspective, what is the one thing you would do differently if you could do it all over again?

We’ve been pretty lucky. I really wouldn’t do anything over again. We’ve made mistakes. And we learned from them. The only mistakes that are bad are when you don’t learn. We also recognized the value of hiring experienced people who would help us grow the brand.

4. What is one thing you would recommend to another business to control expenses?

When forming a business you need to go in recognizing things take longer and are more expensive than you might presume. Plan and research as best as you can so no expense is a surprise.

5. What has been your greatest success in driving revenue and sales?

Listening to our customers and giving them what they want. We asked our customers a lot of questions about what they’re looking for when they make a choice about where to purchase their meals. What we heard; people are looking for healthier products.

People have to find value in your product or service. Speak to them. Find out what they want and what you can change.

6. Is there any general advice you would like to share with your fellow small businesses and start-ups?

Ask yourselves a couple of key questions: What makes you different from your competitors? What aren’t your customers buying so they can buy your product instead? Finally, don’t over plan or over analyze, keeping in mind “action over inaction” and “learning by doing” should be applied as on-going guidance.

Our thanks to Matt Matros for the helpful insights he’s shared into their business success. You can find additional information on The Protein Bar as well as their menu options at

This series is a collaborative effort supported by, a valued chamber member and software technology company, dedicated to empowering businesses with a simplified platform to increase their marketing revenue while minimizing expenses.




Last Updated on 2013-02-12 14:09:53.698

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