Chef Alberto Landgraf

At a casual glance, you might not notice much similarity between Michelin star chefs and enterprise tech founders. After all, how many tech founders can turn out a perfect Oysters and Pearls like Thomas Keller, or a magnificent, rule-bending millefeuille pastry like Anne-Sophie Pic? But take a closer look, and the similarities between Michelin star chefs and tech company founders become readily apparent.

Two weeks ago, we hosted a kickoff-to-summer party at Next47, bringing together founders and the startup ecosystem for an evening of food, drinks, and conversation. To put the icing on the cake, we invited Chef Alberto Landgraf—who has earned two Michelin stars—to bring his magical Brazilian/Japanese fusion cooking to the event. As we were in the early stages of thinking about the party, I was reminded that Michelin star chefs and tech founders share many characteristics in common that make them stand out from the rest of the pack.

Here are some of the most important:

Passion and drive

If there’s something every top chef and startup founder possesses, it’s a deep passion for what they do. Sure—both want to make money, but that’s not what relentlessly drives them to create new products, new techniques, and new ways to please their customers. Whether it’s cooking or technology, success demands a commitment to always learning, always improving, and always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

Innovation and creativity

Chefs know that they can’t earn a Michelin star by just doing what every other chef does. To earn the star, they must offer outstanding cooking while creating an unforgettable experience that sets them apart from their peers. Similarly, the best enterprise tech founders must develop unique and disruptive products, technologies, or applications that enable them to stand out in crowded markets—all while delighting their customers and delivering value. Top chefs and founders both feel at home thinking outside the box and taking calculated risks.

Leadership and team management

If you’ve ever dined at a restaurant with an open kitchen, where you can watch the flurry of activity that goes on behind the scenes, you know that one of the key jobs of a chef is to lead their team. Chefs and founders both have to recruit the best people and assemble, train, and lead highly effective teams. They need to create a vision that sets the bar high, and then inspire their team members to do everything they can to achieve it. And of course, both must effectively manage personnel issues, logistics, and team dynamics. Their success depends on it!


Life is often filled with failure for both chefs and tech founders. A Michelin star is not easily won—nor easily kept—and successful tech companies are usually the result of several attempts, pivots, or even outright failures. Whether you’re a chef or a tech founder, you’ve got to anticipate failure, prepare for it, do everything you can to resolve the reasons for the failure, and then learn valuable lessons from it that you can use to improve in the future.

Customer focus

Ultimately, the main job of Michelin star chefs and tech company founders is to create products and services that others value. Chefs must please and delight their diners—creating memorable experiences—and tech founders must anticipate and meet the needs of their customers. This often requires a keen understanding of people’s wants, tastes, and behaviors, and the ability to adapt quickly when these change, which they surely will over time.


Successful chefs and founders often leave a lasting impact on their field—changing what people eat or how they use technology. They leave a legacy that outlives their own careers. And just as attaining a Michelin star (or two or three), or building a fast-growing startup, is no easy feat, it’s a dream that is by no means impossible. With the right idea, the right team, and the right financial and other support, it can be done. But only if you aren’t willing to rest on your laurels once you’ve achieved it. As the late chef Joël Robuchon—winner of a record 31 Michelin stars—once explained, “There is no such thing as the perfect meal; one can always do better.”

These are just a handful of examples of the nexus between top chefs and tech founders taken from my personal experience. Of course, every chef and tech founder will have their own unique journey and set of experiences, and this will ultimately determine their fate. But as you can see, Michelin star chefs and tech company founders share much in common, and it’s these characteristics that are instrumental in their success.