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Guelph proves to be a fertile testing ground for Crazy Carrot concept

This What’s Up Wednesday gets souped up and juiced with Anurag Sood founder of the new Crazy Carrot restaurant on Wyndham Street

Anurag Sood has traveled the world in search of his ideal business model and he has reaped the economic fruits of his labours in the process but it took a brief break from work and a return to his roots to discover his personal formula for success.

“I am from India where they say 25 to 30 per cent of people skip dinner every day because they can’t afford it,” said Sood. “I wondered, what is happening in this world.”

He decided to pursue a legacy that will measure his success by more than the thickness of his wallet.

“We are trying to see what we can do for the community,” he said. “It’s not about money. Maybe money is the easier thing. I am 44 and by the time I retire I should be proud about the things I have achieved.”

Sood chose Guelph as the testing ground for his Crazy Carrot concept and he planted the seed downtown on Wyndham Street.

“This is our first test kitchen,” he said. “I thought, before going back to Toronto, I should try the market and I thought Guelph has the best demographics to try the menu and test the waters of this new concept.”

Sood was born in India in 1976 and had plans for a career in the pharmaceutical business.

“I come from a family of doctors and pharmacists,” he said. “We had a pharmaceutical factory in India, but my father had a family partition and we moved from our pharmaceutical factory to a different city where we have apple farms and hotels.”

He graduated from Bharathiar University in India in 2001 and co-founded the Sanjha Chulha restaurant where he became executive chef.

“We grew 200 per cent every year for six years before we opened a resort,” he said.

He operated the Himalayan Village Resort in India with his family from 2006 to 2010

“We had a family partition again between me and my brother and I got some apple farms and he got the resort and the restaurant,” said Sood. “I said, I am more a hospitality guy and a chef. What am I going to do on the farm?”

He is president of the Kailash Estate Farm operation and as a side gig became an executive for KFC in India, but he grew restless and decided to visit his sister who is a surgeon in New Zealand.

“That was my first international visit,” he said. “I realised there is a different world out here and the businessman in me saw that I should move out of India and try to do something on my own.”

He selected Canada for the next stop on his quest.

“It is economically strong, has a diverse population, it’s a beautiful country and obviously they grow apples here too,” he said. “This is where I need to be.”

He was still working for KFC but recognised that consumers were trending toward healthier fast-food options and accepted a position with Freshii.

“I got promoted six times in six years and retired as the vice president of Freshii just before their IPO,” he said. “I didn’t know I would be starting Crazy Carrot then, but it was a good learning curve I think.”

He returned to India and took a few months off to relax and refocus.

“I traveled to London, New York, Chicago, Boston and I started looking around at what is trending,” he said. “I also got into yoga and there my vision changed. I said, you know what? Making money is not tough. What can you do that will make a difference?”

The concept for Crazy Carrot began to take root.

“I started working on this in July 2017 and it took me a lot of time because the recipes were tested and tried for months,” said Sood. “I needed it to be healthy. It should be cooked in house, not frozen so, at Crazy Carrot every single ingredient, including our hot sauce, is made in house.”

He sold two properties he owned in Toronto to finance the project and opened the doors in Guelph July 16.

“My vision is that three per cent of our total sales should go towards a charity we are going to start in Canada,” he said. “When I think someone from a family is starving for food, that freaks me out.”

He is scouting out a site for a second location in Waterloo.

“I think we are ready to go deeper in the water and the final swim is going to be Toronto and the US market,” he said. “I listen to these big companies talk about their target market. Some talk about millennials, some talk about households making more than $70,000 or $80,000 and when they ask, what is my target market, I say all. I want every single person in this restaurant to eat.”