The Great Food Truck Race Runner-up Tikka Tikka Taco Share Their Experience on the Show | FTE Episode 020

This particular show wasn’t so much about the food as it was about the story and I would say the sales competition. That’s what I would say at the end of the day what it was about.Michael Swaleh on The Great Food Truck Race

Today I’m speaking with Michael Swaleh of Tikka Tikka Taco, Runner-up in Season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race broadcast on The Food Network. In this interview, we get deep into the story behind the Tikka Tikka Taco truck and outline how Swaleh and his brother were selected out of thousands of applicants to appear on The Great Food Truck Race. Swaleh also provides some actionable steps you can take to improve your chances of being selected for the reality show if that’s something you’re interested in.

If there’s one core takeaway from the Tikka Tikka Taco story it would be this: Don’t quit and be ready to adapt.

The concept of starting a casual dining restaurant began years ago with Swaleh, but he didn’t immediately have the time or resources to launch his business. Still the idea simmered in his mind for a few years. It wasn’t until his brother returned home from the military that the Swaleh brothers got the jumpstart they needed to pursue their dream of owning a restaurant and launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal to raise $60,000 in capital for their business. Unfortunately, the brothers fell well short of their goal with their first campaign.

While the Swaleh brothers never hit the monetary goal through KickStarter, the crowdfunding campaign was successful in generating much needed exposure for the entrepreneurs. One person that stumbled across the campaign was an employee of the Food Network that connected with the story behind Tikka Tikka Taco in their video. This led to the Swaleh brothers being contacted by the Food Network and they began an intense process of interviews to determine if they were the right fit for The Great Food Truck Race. After months of casting, Tikka Tikka Taco was selected to appear on the show and made an incredible run of it going all the way to the finale.

For those of you familiar with the show, the winner of The Great Food Truck race receives their own food truck along with other prizes and potentially most important, exposure on the most popular television show of a major cable network.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why having a great story is probably the most important component of the selection process for The Great Food Truck Race
  • Being selected for The Great Food Truck Race (or any reality TV show) is often more about being entertaining than an exceptional cook
  • Some of the outside the box marketing benefits of crowdfunding campaigns
  • A little about the modern style Indo-Pak cuisine of Tikka Tikka Taco
  • The selection process that included Skype interviews, phone interviews, and video submissions
  • An overview of how the Food Network staff takes thousands of applications and cuts them down to just eight teams
  • How The Great Food Truck race changed Michael Swaleh’s life
  • Why a social media presence is critical for raising capital online
  • How to juggle launching a food truck while having a 9-to-5 job
  • Why Michael is looking for a partner in St. Louis to help run his business

Our Sponsor

FoodStart.com – Need funding for your mobile food business? As a listener of Food Truck Empire you can receive $1,000 in bonus money after you successfully raise $5,000 and contributions from 20 people. All you need to do is email support@foodtruckempire.com after signing up for a free account on FoodStart.com. Click here to learn more about this listener perk.

Mentioned in the Episode

Official Website – The official website of Tikka Tikka Taco.

The Great Food Truck Race – Check out the official website of The Great Food Truck Race. Here you’ll find more interviews with Tikka Tikka Taco and learn about the other contestants on the show.

Tikka Tikka Taco’s IndieGoGo Campaign – This is the current IndieGoGo.com campaign for the truck. The campaign ends in roughly a week so please check out the campaign and lend them a hand if you’re able. I’m contributing to their campaign as the featured truck of the month for November. These guys are extremely hard workers and any money invested will be put to good use.

Tikka Tikka Taco’s KickStarter Campaign – This is Tikka Tikka Taco’s first crowdfunded campaign on KickStarter.com. The campaign did not result in funding for the business, but it did attract the attention of a producer and ultimately helped the brothers to be featured on the hit Food Network show. You can learn a lot from the video posted here.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. As usual, if you got value out of it please share on Facebook and Twitter. See you next week!

About Support Staff

Brett Lindenberg is the founder of Food Truck Empire and Food Empire Pro. Brett's mission is help to entrepreneurs start and grow profitable food businesses. Since 2014, Brett has interviewed over 100 entrepreneurs on the Food Empire Pro podcast and written hundreds of blog posts on all aspects of food business. Brett has been quoted in media outlets like Entrepreneur Magazine, CNBC, and The Washington Post.