Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Hunter Pond.
For some people, their profession evolves, developing into something unexpected but utterly fulfilling. That’s true for 29-year-old Hunter Pond, founder and CEO of East Hampton Sandwich Co.
The Dallas native graduated from Texas Tech, where he studied entrepreneurship, and even attended St. Mary’s Law School before realizing that most of this projects involved the restaurant industry. When Pond discovered that just about every sandwich restaurant followed the same formula — bread is baked in-house, while meat and sauces are outsourced — he saw a gap in the industry he could fill.
Pond began writing business plans that focused on flipping the model — outsourcing the bread making, preparing the meat and sauces in-house — and he describes the planning stages for East Hampton as something akin to an addiction. When the first location opened at Snider Plaza in 2012, it was clear the model was a hit: fresh sandwiches, filled with handmade sauces and meats without hormones or fillers.
Pond has received loads of recognition — he has been included on Zagat’s and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists — and there are now six East Hampton locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.
We relished the chance to pick his brain about doing business in Texas.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Hunter Pond: Knowing that East Hampton provides a product that is unmatched in quality is what keeps me inspired on a daily basis. Watching customers’ eyes bulge as they bite into one of our sandwiches really gets me pumped and motivated.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans starting a business?
HP: Be very picky when taking on partners. There is plenty of money out there if the idea is solid and your product is top of its category. Dig deep and figure out what kind of people they are, if their morals align with yours, if their goals are the same as yours. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in this area recently, and it’s transformed our company.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words:
HP: Queso. Business. Proud.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
HP: I’m a diehard Seinfeld fan. Our parent company is named Vandelay Hospitality Group.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
HP: The weather is nice, we’re breaking sales records, and the Cowboys are above .500.
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 3 at Fearing’s, to celebrate Pond and his fellow Dallas winners.