VERTS Mediterranean Grill had more to boast about than a tasty pita wrap this month.
On Jan. 4, Dominik Stein, VERTS co-founder and McCombs School of Business alumnus, made the Forbes “30 Under 30” list for Food & Drink in 2017, an award highlighting the top leaders in various business industries.
According to KVUE, Stein, 29, and VERTS Co-founder Michael Heyne, 31, opened the original VERTS in Austin, Texas as a start-up in 2011, soon after they graduated.
“It’s a great school, a great program,” Stein said to KVUE.
In a style similar to that of Chipotle, VERTS allows customers to build their own Mediterranean entrée with a selection of options like pita bread, falafel, rice bowls and quinoa.
Michael Hasler, senior lecturer at the McCombs School of Business and program director for the Master of Science program in Business Analytics, said Stein and Heyne were students in one of his project-based MBA classes several years ago.
Hasler said the duo approached him while taking the course to ask for business advice, beginning a lasting relationship in which Hasler served as an advisor on the VERTS
operational strategy. Hasler said Stein and Heyne listened to what he had to say, and the pair incoroporated many of his observations into their business plan.
“I have to say one of the things about that that was so striking was ... these guys came in, and they had it knocked,” Hasler said. “They had done their research, they knew what to do (and) they were passionate. It was really easy to be an advisor to them
because they knew what they wanted to do.”
VERTS has expanded to over 30 locations across Texas and in several cities along the East Coast, including Philadelphia and New York City.
“From the initial idea of just bringing our beloved food from Europe, we actually said ‘Okay, let’s make it a little more sophisticated,’” Stein, who was born in Germany, said to KVUE.
Hasler said Stein was his first student ever to make it on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list.
“I’m very proud of them,” Hasler said. “(It was a) great experience working with them and (I’m) really proud of being able to play a very small part of the success of VERTS.”
Business sophomore Spencer Bennett said she thinks Stein’s success shows what McCombs is able to offer and gives other students hope that they can succeed in life after college.
“I think that the education McCombs is able to offer gives people a head start in the real world,” Bennett said. “We just have such a diverse group of professors and classes ... (and) I’m sure anyone in McCombs would like to follow in his footsteps and take on the world like him.”