Startup Sunrise: Evolving Family Business Recap

This article is written in partnership with local founder Megan Raposa from Sioux Falls Simplified


The smell of fresh bacon, coffee from the Source and the sounds of acoustic guitars greeted the dozens who attended the October Startup Sunrise event. Speakers Riccardo Tarabelsi of Vinyahd Restaurant group and AJ Saigh of Burwell Enterprises Inc. were joined by host Peter Hauck of the Prairie Family Business Association for a discussion on evolving family business. 

The event kicked off with a performance by Nathan Barrow, who sang a song called, “Time on the Hill.” You can also catch Barrow during this month’s Live and Local series at the Washington Pavilion – tickets here.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion that followed: 

Family health is more important than business health. Tarabelsi noted the importance of having family time that’s separate from work. He and his family, who own and operate R Wine Bar, Brix Wine Bar, Vespa Catering and Mirabella Restaurant, ensure at least half of their conversations at home focus on what’s going on outside of work. 

  • He also noted that it’s equally important to create a strong culture in the workplace among people who aren’t family members. 

“Everyone we hire that isn’t family, we just adopt,” he said. 

You don’t have to know everything. Saigh noted that one important strategy to keeping innovation alive in family businesses is an openness to take new approaches. And that can mean connecting with outside experts. 

“It’s OK as a family business that we don’t know everything,” Saigh said. “It’s an unfair thought that the person who started the business should have all the answers.” 

Communication is critical. Hauck said the challenge he most often sees family businesses facing is communication. It’s essential to have open discussions about everything from how the business is run to succession plans to who’s responsible for what. 

Clearly define roles. Part of communication is ensuring that all of the family members involved in the business have a clearly defined role, Hauck added. It’s important to assign roles based on each person’s strengths, and sometimes it can also be important to include family in discussions even if their role doesn’t directly impact that specific part of the business.

You can say, ‘This is outside of your role, but I want you to know this,” Hauck said. 

Take actions today to set yourself up for the future. Saigh shared a story about a business owner who wanted a schedule that allowed for more family time, but the business needed much more of his time and attention. 

  • Saigh’s advice was to think about what you want the business to look like in five to 10 years and take actions today to allow for that.


To get the full benefits of Startup Sunrise, make sure to sign up for our next event on November 1st HERE.