The Breakfast Boy started on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Conrad Drive in the year 2000.
I stood at the robot and sold breakfast in a brown paper bag . . .
Busy schedules usually mean commuting business executives rarely have time for healthy breakfasts. The meal gets sidelined, to ensure kids are ready or deadlines are met. Given my varsity commitments and an accessible market,
For the princely amount of R10.00 commuters driving to Sandton got a breakfast bag containing a muffin, fruit, yogurt, Snacker bar, mint and a napkin. But having a great product wasn’t enough, as all good entrepreneurs know, you need something that sets you apart and communicates directly with your target market.
So I made a fold over pamphlet, telling my story and giving weekly updates to the lessons I was learning while trying to run a business of my own. The standard opening line was: “I am a first year BCOM Entrepreneur student at RAU and I believe only so much can be learnt in the classroom without firsthand practical experience. So I present you the Breakfast Boy, and you will be given weekly updates of the trials, tribulations and successes of running your own business.” My mobile number ended the week’s learning, and allowed Sandton’s commuters to communicate directly with me for pointers, advice and new opportunities.
At 3:00am every morning I began baking muffins, so that by 6:00am I could be on the road at the intersection I had selected. My outfit included a chef’s hat, for easy identification and my signature basket with 10 breakfasts, enough to service every robot change.
Within two months I was at maximum capacity selling 60 breakfasts a morning. The R300 per morning I was making made me a millionaire in student terms, but I was loving the interactions even more, as daily messages flooded in from both those who purchased and who had just received a pamphlet.
I will never forget the morning my former high school headmaster pulled up at the intersection. I greeted him with a cheery “Good morning, Sir” and what I got back was a look that seemed to read as: how can a private school education amount to selling food on the side of the road. But I was just beginning, and I never let those disapproving looks get to me. By the end of the fourth month, four other students were employed and The Breakfast Boy could be spotted at crowded intersections across the Northern Suburbs.
A call came in one morning from a lady who worked at Discovery asking if I could get her promoters for her launch. That next week’s story in The Breakfast Boy pamphlet spoke of our promoters at the Discovery launch, and opened the flood gates for hundred of promoter bookings, as local business owners found other ways to support The Breakfast Boy.
S.H.O.U.T Promotions (Student House of Unbelievable Talent) was opened soon after to deal with the demand, and inevitably first year students from RAU were all in weekend jobs.
I am often asked what I learnt from The Breakfast Boy. Two key things stand out. Firstly, there is no space in business for ego, if you have a great idea take the plunge and do it no matter how humbling it may seem, because that courage will be rewarded tenfold when it becomes profitable. The second thing is to find a way to differentiate yourself and connect with your market, because when you do, the rest will take care of itself.
And always remember… breakfast is the most important meal of the day;-) – The Breakfast Boy