Zambrero founder Sam Prince on giving away 15 million meals, and how Australia should be teaching entrepreneurs better

Zambrero founder Dr Sam Prince.

Zambrero founder Dr Sam Prince. Source: Supplied

The founder of Mexican fast food business Zambrero says young Aussie entrepreneurs need to be protected from “charlatans” who promise to teach the skills of business but lack experience themselves.

In the rush to embrace innovation and business growth, young rich lister Dr Sam Prince says more focus needs to be put on teaching entrepreneurship as a “beautiful craft”.

“There are people out there that are swindling young entrepreneurs, junior entrepreneurs. When I look back, I only had $12,000 to spend to start my restaurant, that’s all I had,” Prince says.

With so many teachers and business coaches keen to pass on knowledge, Prince believes not everyone in the space actually has the runs of the board needed to be telling others what to do.

“If I was to spend that [amount] on some of these charlatans that say they’re teaching entrepreneurship, I think that would be a real shame. We need to be more discerning, about who teaches it.”

For his part, much of Prince’s activities as a serial entrepreneur, which have contributed to growing his net worth to an estimated $294 million, have been motivated by his own family’s experiences. As well as founding Zambrero, Prince is the founder of genetics testing company Life Letters and charity One Disease.

“My parents came from the developing world .. .my mum then used that education to get to university and beyond. If you reconcile to reality and work out what happened there, trajectory of my family was someone campaigning for education.”

From the very beginning of growing the Zambrero chain back in 2005, Prince says he’s used that knowledge to ensure the business delivers a sustainable contribution to projects, including indigenous health projects and global nutrition.

The company’s “Plate 4 Plate” initiative, which delivers one meal to an individual in the developing world for each meal sold in Australia, has this week cracked 15 million “plates” given to the cause.

Prince says the project is less about traditional “corporate social responsibility” initiatives and more a key priority for driving the business further, preferring to focus on passing “kindness” on to others.

“I think the point of being a retailer is having a personality and showing it to the customer. It was the ability to let people in and what kinds of things we do in our spare time — and I would say it’s important to be authentic about what you’re doing.”

Looking back, Prince says the business has even put a pause on accelerating growth in the past to focus on funding social projects.

“Zambrero had some very difficult times growing because it underwrote a crusted scabies campaign in Australia,” he says.

“We had to pay for a very expensive medical outfit, we believed no child should die from that in Australia.”

Even within those constraints, the Zambrero chain has managed to pop up on lists of fast growing franchise businesses, including the BRW Fast 100. By 2014 the company was turning over more than $10 million, and while Prince is now very tight-lipped on revenue, he says it is growing.

The chain now has more than 150 restaurants across Australia.

Prince says now that the business has scaled to a point where it’s having “a real impact on aid”, the biggest hurdle is growing the team so it keeps the kind of grass-roots energy the business saw in its early days.

“When you’re building a team, it’s about keeping the culture positive. And it feels like Manhattan sometimes, Zambrero — like, 2 million people in there who want to change the world. It will be about protecting that.”

Never miss a story: sign up to SmartCompany’s free daily newsletter and find our best stories on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lisa Holmes
Lisa Holmes
4 years ago

Why do I have a phone without a SD and is able take calls on a phone that need a SD card to make calls.
Who is controlling and on my phone as operator.
The church is become a very not good place.
The pastor is using me by voice activation recording.

Cause I sing and write
They are using the schools to tap and record on Facebook media
Everything is being put out for market by the church and family
Why is this so call Rev Darlene Holmes think she can teach me about Jesus who she do not know.
They she still say Israel but God said kingdom on earth he did not say where the place will be.

How can anyone give time and a day if Jesus did not give one when he is coming back.

He commands is to preach the word of the gospel of Jesus making disciple out of man woman children make believer of the faith that one in christ.

4 years ago

Entrepreneurship is simply ‘business building’ – the barrier of entry is lowered but you still need to have good skills and workable, practical concepts. Ideas and fund raising do not make a business, failures are inevitable, for every major success there are thousands which do not make it. Being an entrepreneur is a right, it is either in your DNA or you need to take up being something else.

4 years ago

Business building is very cool and trendy, because the barrier of entry is removed. You still need 100% practical skills, and viable concepts. It is not your right to be an entrepreneur, it is something you earn and develop over time . There is far too much romance involved with today’s entrepreneur scene, fund raising is easier-it is still very hard to build a successful business, it takes time and work.

SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.