Exeleon Magazine

Leonardo De Aguiar: Cooking an Unmatchable Experience

Leonardo De Aguiar

What according to you makes one a powerful entrepreneur? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

Personally, a powerful entrepreneur is someone who has a social responsibility and leaves a positive impact on society and the industry they are in. If one can achieve that, it creates a powerful entrepreneur.

They also must be dedicated and responsible to the overall industry, their team, stakeholders, and the community they serve. I am an advocate of servant leadership, which is putting people first and I’ve done that since day one and will continue to do that in the future.

What is your earliest memory as an entrepreneur that you can remember?

The earliest entrepreneurial memory that I have was working with a friend of mine. He started a small coffee sales operation where we lived, and I remember being around the age of 15, and thinking that I wanted to help him sell coffee. When I hit my early 20s, that is really when I first dipped my toe into the entrepreneurial world with a digital e-commerce shop on social media.

What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the food and dining space?

My family has always been rooted in the food and beverage space as well as hospitality. From an early age they exposed me to the inner workings of the service industry and piqued my interest in food and beverage. Ultimately, it led me to my foray into food and dining.

However, what fortified my interest was the date night gone wrong with my now wife, which was the trigger point. My experience and family history led me to find that opportunity and niche within the market space which gave me an “ah ha” moment of incorporating technology into food and beverage.

What was the idea behind INTUEAT? What makes the platform innovative?

The idea behind INTUEAT came from my former catering app called Chef Connect, which was a small-scale company in Denver that provided upscale in-home dining experiences. When the pandemic hit, I had to pivot and the idea of INTUEAT came to be. Because it became unsafe to go into clients’ homes, we found ourselves needing to come up with a different approach.

The idea was to create a platform to attempt to reincorporate these wonderful and passionate chefs that were being furloughed by doing buy-one-give-one meals from a local restaurant offering consumers takeout and delivery.

From there, we thought of how we can incorporate all these chefs that have been furloughed, so we pivoted Chef Connect to become accessible and scalable, which led to the rebrand of INTUEAT. Our mission behind the platform was to put a spotlight on independent chefs and highlight them as artists.

We wanted to find new ways to assist these wonderful chefs by providing an avenue to deliver their artistry and showcase their skills by interacting with diners, which led to the overall concept. As far as the platform being innovative, it comes down to our unique positioning of celebrating each chef and their skillset and putting them first. Additionally, what makes the platform innovative is the seamless book process, which puts the chefs in the driver’s seat by controlling their schedule and what events they accept.

We also streamlined the process so it’s quick and efficient for clients. Finally, not only are we spotlighting the chefs, but we are in it for helping them build a better quality of life.

What according to you are the biggest challenges that a young entrepreneur faces running a startup?

The biggest challenges I see in young entrepreneurs is having self-confidence, getting into that entrepreneurial mindset, exposure to the space, not being afraid of making difficult decisions and burnout. I have seen a lot of people in my generation struggle with these challenges when becoming an entrepreneur.

Going from graduating college to being an entrepreneur is like being thrown into the deep end of a pool and going for it. With entrepreneurship becoming less mainstream nowadays, we don’t get a first-hand look into the hurdles, decision-making process, and the failures that you’ll endure along the way. This lack of exposure hinders how we as entrepreneurs view the space.

We should talk about our failures and how we overcame them. Additionally, entrepreneurs need to remind themselves that just because it didn’t work out that one time, they shouldn’t give up and always have confidence in themselves.

When it comes to making difficult decisions, I’ve seen in the space and my personal experience the fear of make those heavy decisions. I still struggle with this challenge, but I remind myself that this job isn’t easy and there will be decisions that need to be made, but overall, you need to have that clear vision of what your business is and making strategic and beneficial decisions in order to succeed.

Lastly, being an entrepreneur whether you’re just entering the space or have been in it for decades, can lead to burnout. It’s important to be mindful of this and make sure to carve out time for yourself.

What does a day in the life of Leonardo De Aguiar look like? How do you ensure work-life balance?

Work-life balance as an entrepreneur is extremely hard and brings long hours. An average day begins at 4:15 a.m. when I start off getting ready for my day and making sure to take care of all household responsibilities until I have to leave around 6:00 a.m.

From there, I’m at the office typically from 6:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., depending on the day. When I get into the office, I handle admin work and high-level work for INTUEAT until roughly 8:30 a.m. The team comes in around that time, which is when I start working with them, take meetings, try to do more work and any collaborative work as a team until 1:00 p.m.

After that, I come home either between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. depending on my workload for that day. When I get home, I take some time to relax and then between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., I’m answering emails and finishing other meetings that may be scheduled later in the day.

Where the work-life balance comes into play is being aware of where the energy is going and being mindful of the other responsibilities I have outside of work and tending to those responsibilities, so I can take care of myself.

What would be your advice for young entrepreneurs and business leaders struggling to take that leap of faith?

Any advice I give to a young entrepreneur all goes back to my favorite quote from Reid Hoffman, “an entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.” Taking the leap of faith is one of the hardest steps of becoming an entrepreneur, really leaning forward is terrifying, but once you do it, it becomes significantly easier over time.

The best advice I could give to a young entrepreneur is to think about Reid Hoffman’s quote and embrace that spirit and mindset. You have to build your wings on the way down and not be afraid of what comes along the way.

Finally, what does the future look like for INTUEAT? What are you most excited about?

The future of INTUEAT is for continued growth, not only internally, but our expansion into other markets. Additionally, our development into our platform and our chefs that make up our roster through our recruitment efforts for the chefs. INTUEAT is also making it a priority for an empowerment effort to local communities that we provide our offerings in such as Denver and the surrounding mountain towns, and the South Florida and Dallas, Texas areas.

We are focusing on giving back to causes that the INTUEAT chefs are passionate about to help make a difference and tying that into our overall messaging of being a brand with a purpose. We’re going to continue to grow in the states we are currently, our processes and our brand to make a bigger impact and footprint. INTUEAT is continuing the positive momentum and working on the niches that we found work for us.

We are excited to continue our services with the wonderful and passionate professional chefs and continue to build our community.

About INTUEAT

Established in 2019, INTUEAT is an innovative luxury brand & digital marketplace that provides discerning diners access to an elite portfolio of hand-selected private chefs who are passionate about providing bespoke in-home culinary experiences.

Comprised of the best in the industry, INTUEAT’s Chef members are highly respected culinary professionals whose skills are unique, refined, and held in high esteem among their peers.  Each of the company’s chefs demonstrate qualities that surpass their colleagues in every aspect of their artistry.

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Visit INTUEAT Website.

Contact Leonardo De Aguiar on LinkedIn.

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