Diversity Was on Display at the 2023 International Franchise Expo

International Franchise Expo

The Three-Day Franchising Event Had Something for Everyone

Franchise professionals from all around the world came together last week to network, learn and collaborate at the 2023 International Franchise Expo (IFE). The three-day event held in New York City’s Javits Center proved that franchising is much more than just burgers and fries. While several well-known fast-food brands were on display, exhibitors from across the globe and from just about every industry illustrated franchising’s vast opportunities. 

Food franchisors from Korea, Japan, and Tawain presented exotic fast-casual concepts featuring menu items such as Wagyu Beef, Mylk Tea and Kimchi. Many of these franchisors are well-established in their home countries and came to IFE seeking U.S. expansion. 

MajiCurry, for example, has restaurants in Japan, Singapore and Thailand, and one in Irvine, Calif. Its unique curry — which is a combination of curries from around the world — took founder Ken Takagi years to perfect. A representative from Maji Curry, who was giving out samples at the show, said: “Once you try our curry, you will never forget it.” Since I was lucky enough to try a sample, I can tell you she was right — it was wonderful and totally unique. It will be exciting to see how the brand does as it makes its way across the globe.

One of the most popular booths at the entire conference was Poke Bowl, a New York City-based create-your-own bowl concept. The lines to try a sample of the delicious healthy salmon and tuna bowls were relentless. The generous franchisor must have fed thousands of exhibitors and attendees throughout the three-day show. I know because I am one of them. Yes, they were worth the wait!  

IFE was a reminder of why I love the franchising world; the possibilities are endless.

Lisa Linkowsky
Host Lisa Linkowsky is an accomplished franchise consultant, author, and former franchise owner

Several shows and podcasts were recorded live at the 2023 International Franchise Expo, including Franchise Focus, a weekly franchise-related show which airs on RVN Television. Host Lisa Linkowsky is an accomplished franchise consultant, author, and former franchise owner. Each week on Franchise Focus, she covers all aspects of franchising and talks to franchise business owners, franchisors and other key players in franchising.

During the expo, she gave exhibitors and attendees a chance to share their concepts and thoughts on franchising. Linkowsky and her production team set up a mini studio on the expo floor (above) and also walked the aisles to get impromptu interviews. “I loved attending IFE this year and had fantastic discussions with many different concepts. Eric Murphy chatted about the world’s first on-demand, experiential ice cream trucks – Scream Truck; Omer Cohen spoke passionately about VirtuRide, the riding experience that makes you forget you are exercising; and Victor McNulty proudly discussed an option for chefs to consider via The Cook’s Studio,” Linkowsky said. “Each one of these emerging franchises is unique and offers something different. IFE was a reminder of why I love the franchising world; the possibilities are endless.”

Beyond Food Franchises

The non-food franchises at IFE were just as diverse and exciting as the food concepts. Some of the more unique franchises included Midwest Shooting Center, the first-ever full-service indoor range and firearms retailer to franchise its brand. With a focus on gun safety, the stores train customers how to handle firearms properly. The shops offer memberships, training and even host corporate events and parties.

The British Butler Institute is another cool newcomer looking to establish itself in the U.S. The hospitality training franchise teaches employees from hotels, spas, luxury yachts, and other high-end establishments to have the very best social and business etiquette. 

Franchise seekers could find just about any franchise business at the International Franchise Expo — even a pet cremation and funeral franchise. Pet Passages was inspired when founder Michael Harris, a third-generation licensed funeral home director, lost his two best friends, Rottweilers Luke and Hannah. He searched for compassionate pet funeral and cremation options but couldn’t find any, so he decided to start his own business that offered those services.

I was so impressed at how eager people were for information and how diverse the group was. There were people from all over the world and from every walk of life.

Mike Handy

Franchising Seminars

IFPG’s  Vice President of Business Development Mike Handy led a seminar at IFE called What it Takes to be a Great Franchisee.
IFPG’s Vice President of Business Development Mike Handy led a seminar at IFE called What it Takes to be a Great Franchisee.

Throughout the three-day event, attendees could participate in several seminars to learn just about anything in franchising. Many of the sessions offered information for people who want to franchise their businesses; others were for folks who were considering franchise ownership. Some specialty seminars focused on specific groups like minorities, women, or veterans in franchising. 

A seminar called What it Takes to be a Great Franchisee (above) was led by the Vice President of Business Development for IFPG, Mike Handy. Even though it was one of the last seminars on the last day of the show, the room was packed. “I was so impressed at how eager people were for information and how diverse the group was. There were people from all over the world and from every walk of life. There was a guy from Nigeria, two young adults right out of college, and a family that wanted to go into business together,” he said. “I love helping people go into business for themselves.”

It was incredible to see people from various backgrounds, cultures, and countries coming together in one place to explore opportunities in franchising.

Sebastian Aguirre

A Love of Franchising

Up and down the aisles of the International Franchise Expo were enthusiastic professionals who were passionate about changing lives through franchise ownership. Home Run Franchises founder Thomas Scott (above, right) says he has loved franchising for decades and enjoys helping entrepreneurs succeed.

All of Home Run Franchise’s brands offer what Scott calls an “entry-level” opportunity with low-cost, recession-resistant models. “Our businesses are good for retirees, families, young entrepreneurs, tradespeople looking to move up, and just about anyone who wants more control over their future,” he says. At the show, he displayed Up Closets, a custom closet franchise he describes as “a home service business that runs with few employees, low overhead, highly effective and disruptive marketing, and software that leverages the newest artificial intelligence technology to design closets faster and more efficiently.”

Latino Franchise Association

Entrepreneur Rafael Alvarez (above) has a deep desire to share the opportunities in franchising with the Latino community. He was at The International Franchise Expo on behalf of The Latino Franchise Association (LFA), an organization that promotes opportunities for Latinos in franchising. LFA’s upcoming Franquicias Fest is a large-scale franchise trade show, conference, workshop, and networking event coming to New York City in August. “There are a lot of Latinos who have a lot of money and resources, but they just don’t know about franchising. We want to change that,” he says.

Industry supplier Sebastian Aguirre from Candian reputation management company NiceJob is a newcomer to franchising. He was impressed at how diverse the conference was. “It was incredible to see people from various backgrounds, cultures, and countries coming together in one place to explore opportunities in franchising,” he said.

Dennis Jackson from franchise development company REP’M Group came to IFE to network and see “the latest and greatest franchising has to offer.” He left the show with several new contacts and a ton of inspiration. “I love seeing the new and exciting brands that are introduced every year.”

IFA President Matthew Haller

IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller attends the International Franchise Expo

IFA President and CEO Matthew Haller stressed due diligence in the franchise discovery process at the event’s opening ceremony. “It’s so important to engage in education before you become part of any franchise opportunity,” he said. “That’s what this event is all about. Our partners in government at the federal, state and local level are critical in ensuring that brands and prospective franchisees have the information they need to get a successful franchise journey underway.”

The International Franchise Expo came at a pivotal time for franchising. With just a few days left to submit comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s Request for Information (RFI), Haller urges the franchise community to share stories and comment on rules changes that could negatively affect franchising. The deadline for comments is June 8. IFA offers a toolkit to guide and inspire messages from franchisors, franchisees and other supporters of the franchise business model.

Comments can be submitted and read at regulations.gov.

IFE Partners and Sponsors

The International Franchise Expo is an exclusive partner of the International Franchise Association and has support from the U.S. Department of Commerce as an exposition participating in the International Buyer Program.

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Jill Abrahamsen’s career spans more than 25 years in editorial, design, and marketing roles. As the editorial director of IFPG, she serves as editor-in-chief of Franchise Consultant Magazine and FranchiseWire. Through both platforms, Jill helps franchisors spread the word about their brands and reports on the latest franchise news and trends. A skilled storyteller, Jill communicates franchisor’s messages through feature articles and franchisee interviews.

Jill is an accomplished writer, editor and graphic designer. Her extensive experience includes key roles with major consumer publications, including Boating, Popular Photography, and Design NJ magazines. As founding editor-in-chief of Franchise Dictionary magazine, Jill developed her passion and fascination for franchising which continues to grow in her role at IFPG.
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