Franchising is becoming an increasingly popular middle-ground — making owning a business more attainable for entrepreneurs. André Walters is a former VP for the Charlotte Hornets, and Derrick Brown is a former player; together, they’re the co-founders of Free Fenix. Based in Charlotte, Free Fenix is a venture company that focuses on developing its network of franchises — including Duck Donuts — and serving the Charlotte, Atlanta and Houston areas.
From the sports industry to fast food
Through Walter’s time with the Hornets, he was able to form relationships with several players, including Brown. After acquiring a Duck Donuts franchise in Atlanta, Walters linked up with Brown, who was looking to get into the franchising industry as his playing career was winding down. Thus, Free Fenix was born.
Because of his time in sports, Walters was able to quickly recognize the intensity of the food industry and adapt to “fight through this competition and find a way to win.” Two restaurants and seven (and counting) locations later, the venture seems to have found an effective formula for success.
Following the initial success of the venture, Walters has now turned his attention to ensuring Free Fenix creates value for their entire business ecosystem, including partners, clients and employees. Given their connection to the Hornets, Walters and Brown have seen a huge amount of support from the city of Charlotte, and they’re dedicated to fostering a two-way relationship with this community.