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Inspire, Lead, Mentor

Vu Tran Dishes On Why He Prioritizes the People He Meets Over His Multiple Business Successes

Vu Tran is a local Highlands Ranch entrepreneur. He is a franchise owner, real estate investor, former Marine, author, national speaker, and dedicated mentor. At 34 years old, his business accomplishments are impressive, but that is only part of his story.

Vu is a Colorado native. He grew up in the Sloans Lake area of Denver. In the 1990s the Sloans Lake neighborhood was a bit rougher than it is today. His parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the 1960s, and with two older sisters and five younger brothers, Vu remembers feeling a sense of responsibility for his family from a very young age.

In what Vu calls “car talks” with his dad, there was a theme of his dad emphasizing hard work, being thankful for the opportunities you are given, and being responsible. His dad owned a grocery store near the downtown Denver Auraria Campus — again back when that area was not somewhere you wanted to be after dark. Vu distinctly remembers his dad’s ability to get along with everyone and his respect for all of his customers.

And although business associates, employees, and investors now describe Vu as a mentor, leader, and inspiration, when he looks back to his younger years, he felt like he had trouble fitting in. As a teenager he was friends with the skateboarders, the athletes, the troublemakers, the smart kids, the nerdy kids. But didn’t truly belong in any of those groups.

Vu recalls, “After high school I hit a boiling point. I realized I had to make decisions that would affect the rest of my life.”

Vu chose the Marines. He is a 10-year Marine veteran, a five-time recipient of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for Outstanding Leadership, and a 2012 Afghanistan combat veteran.

His leadership training and experience with the military reinforced all the lessons he saw modeled by his family and heard from a very young age. This carries through in his approach as an entrepreneur. He can immediately list the three Core Values of the Marine Corps and their 13 Leadership Traits.

“Those two structures of values and leadership have helped me determine what I need to do as an individual and as a leader,” Vu says.

During the interview with Highlands Ranch City Lifestyle magazine, the only question that didn’t result in a detailed, lengthy, rapid-fire response was, “What are you most proud of?” And there’s a reason for that. Vu isn’t proud. He is an accomplished businessman, public speaker, mentor and leader. What he isn’t is prideful or complacent.

After a pause, he answered the “proud” question by repeatedly using the words opportunity and grateful.

The military, in particular, is an opportunity that he is grateful for experiencing. He is also grateful for the multiple business opportunities that he has chosen to pursue.

One of Vu's most recent business accomplishments is the successful launch of the Highlands Ranch location of I Heart Mac & Cheese. Opened in October 2021, the restaurant on Sergeant Jon Stiles Drive has been popular with busy families, local high school students, and anyone craving carbs.

But more important to Vu than the financial success of the business is his opportunity to interact with the community. His employees are excited to be there and he genuinely engages with them, cares how they're doing, and wants to know what he can do to help; which is exactly the same way he treats every single customer who walks through the door.

Vu is also a franchise owner in the upcoming opening of multiple Colorado locations of the fast-casual chain restaurant EverBowl, which serves “super food” bowls. Drew Brees, retired NFL quarterback, is also an investor, franchisee and brand ambassador.

Leading by example as a businessman and remaining focused on his commitment to mentoring and being a positive influence are important, lifelong goals for Vu. He summed it up by saying, “I want to consistently show people that it is possible to succeed. And it is possible for everyone. I would love for a reader to finish this article and realize they can achieve more. I believe, in business, there are only two decisions: Things you do or things you regret not doing. Never regret trying.”

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