Steve Ells started Chipotle as a way to fund his dream to open an upscale restaurant. He kept the menu and the process simple. He found a model that worked and brought it to Denver. He got a loan from his dad and opened the first Chipotle in 1993.
Chipotle took off. It is now valued at more than $14 billion.
He never opened that fancy restaurant.
A new vision formed along the way. Here’s what he says about the purpose of Chipotle on the How I Built This podcast:
“Before I started the first restaurant I used to tell people that I wanted to show that just because food is served fast, it doesn’t have to be the typical fast food experience. And that evolved to ‘I want to change the way Americans think about and eat fast food.’ I remember when I first started saying that, we weren’t very big. That sounded like a big audacious goal.” (44:16)
There is a time in between starting something and changing the world in which a vision for something great takes shape.
It starts with an idea, a hypothesis (“just because . . . doesn’t mean . . .”) and eventually becomes a vision (“change the way Americans . . .”).
You can listen to the entire interview with Steve Ells on the How I Built This show from NPR: