Los Angeles is a city known for its diversity and vibrant neighborhoods, a fact USC alum Jeff Okita took advantage of in August 2009 to start a company, Six Taste Food Tours. Okita, who graduated from USC in spring 2008 with a degree in English and a minor in business administration, spoke with the Daily Trojan in a phone interview about his startup and his time at USC.
Daily Trojan: What does Six Taste Food Tours do?
Jeff Okita: We provide four-hour tours in different communities of Los Angeles, where people learn about the culture and history of the area and also are able to sample several dishes from local restaurants. It’s a way for people to connect to different communities through an accessible medium, which is food.
DT: What made you decide to start the company?
Okita: I really wanted something of my own, to be my own boss and to be able to innovate. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that Los Angeles has one of the most interesting culinary experiences with several distinct, segmented communities. I wanted to give people the chance to explore these communities and the food that they have to offer.
DT: What was your favorite class at USC and why?
Okita: MDA 365: The Art and Adventure of Leadership, which was taught by President Steven B. Sample and Dr. Warren Bennis. It was filled with amazing guest speakers and dealt with leadership in a way that I had never really thought about before. It was also very challenging and engaging to be able to hear from President Sample and Dr. Bennis.
DT: What was your favorite experience at USC outside of your classes?
Okita: I would have to say founding Delta Omicron Zeta, the leadership fraternity on campus. We had to create a foundation for this fraternity in one semester, and looking at it today and seeing how it’s grown into an 80-person fraternity based on our core values that we established at the beginning is truly amazing.
DT: How did your time at USC help you in your career now?
Okita: More than any of the classes, what helped me in the real world were the interactions I had in student organizations and such. Being in a college environment allows you to understand different experiences and perspectives, which is really valuable in the real world and in becoming an effective leader.
DT: What advice would you like to give to current Trojans?
Okita: I would encourage people to really take advantage of the Trojan network. It’s very real, you can easily ask a Trojan alum for help and they will go out of their way to help you. It’s amazing what people will do for you if you’re a fellow Trojan, and a lot of people should take greater advantage of the fact that you really are a part of this strong Trojan family.