At 17, Fred DeLuca used a family friend’s $1,000 investment to open a sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Today, Subway has more locations worldwide than its nearest rival, McDonald’s. DeLuca, now 65 and living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, tells the story.
In 1974, we began franchising. We didn’t have any big thought process except that, OK, franchising will help us get to our goal of 32 stores and help us run stores farther away from home. It took us a really long time to learn the franchise business, because we started out with a blank slate. We didn’t have any franchising coaches or advisers.
Eight years later, we’d gone through the learning curve. We had a lot of experience, and we’d grown from 16 stores up to 200 stores. I sat back, and I said, “Oh, my gosh, we kind of know what we’re doing here. I wonder what the possibilities are?”