The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Bagel mensch serves up recipe for ethical dough

    Courtesy of Noah Alper
    Noah’s Bagels business guru Noah Alper is a Jewish entrepreneur who wrote “Business Mensch.”

    Being a decent, upright and successful entrepreneur was the subject of a talk given by Noah Alper, founder of Noah’s Bagels. The event was sponsored by the De Anza College club Jews, Israelis and Friends.

    Bella Yashaev, president of JIF, met Alper at Jewlicious festival in Los Angeles.

    “His talk over there was so inspiring that I thought about our students interested in entrepreneurship, so I decided to organize his talk at De Anza because JIF and the business club would both be interested in sponsoring this event.”

    Alper has been an entrepreneur for 35 years and founded six enterprises, four of which were successful. He summarized his experiences that he used as advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in his newly published book, “Business Mensch,” which he was selling and signing after the discussion.

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    “I have the credentials and the credibility to write my book, ‘Business Mensch’,” said Alper. He uses the Yiddish word “mensch” because it means “a decent, upright person. A business mensch is a decent and upright person who is also successful in business.” He explained the difference between a businessman and a man in business:

    “A man in business just makes money. A businessman is somebody who is aggressive, who is looking for opportunities, who is hustling,” said Alper.

    Alper said that everyone can be a mensch. “You can be a decent and upright person, and you can be a successful business person at the same time. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive, and that is the fundamental theme of my book.”

    Alper got his first job shelving books at his brother-in-law’s bookstore. He then worked as a cashier in Boston.

    He was once invited to a dinner where a salad, served “in a very beautiful rustic wooden salad bowl,” gave him an idea in the 70s, “plastic became the main material for food packing and serving,” but Alper didn’t like it – he loved all-natural products. The next day, he bought 50 salad bowls for $1,000 and sold all of them in another neighborhood in an hour and a half. It became the start of his first enterprise, The Alper Wooden Bowls Company.

    Alper used to buy handcrafts in Israel and sell them to born-again Christians in America. However, this company soon went out of business.

    “Failures drive you to succeed in your next business if you look at it in the right way,” he said.

    His next business idea was to make and sell bagels.

    He wanted to turn them into a common American food, like pizza. He figured that bagels would be popular in the Bay Area, so he chose Berkeley as the first place for his new business and gradually expanded.

    Alper emphasized his policies for a successful business: paying attention to products, your customers and employees; keeping strong ties with the neighborhood where your business is located, the importance of giving something back to the community and doing careful market research.

    “We have community outreach programs, charity boxes; we also give out our products for community events,” Alper said.

    “Doing the right things is always success for business,” he said.

    “I was very motivated, and touched to hear from somebody so determined,” said Tram Nguen, a biological science major.

    “He gave good tips for my business,” said Tray Joseph Goldenberg, a doctor, acupuncturist and nutritionist who started a private practice. “In business there is always something that you don’t know, so it’s always helpful to learn from other businessmen.”

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