End of April 2020 contd. – VeV very quickly became the favourite subject of our conversations. Both Vini and I dreamt of opening a restaurant one day so having all those ideas flying in simply made us very passionate about this potential new venture. However, regardless of how excited we got we were still able to bring each other down to earth and allow reason to take over. Neither of us ever opened or ran a food business apart from having few restaurant and bar jobs behind our belt. But that didn’t scare us too much, rather made us cautious and conscious of our capabilities.
Together we have over 25 years of corporate management experience including new product development, marketing, sales, service delivery, operations… and the list goes on. That made us confident that we were up for the new challenge and would not give up easily. We also know very well that failure is best practice to gain real time experience, so decided to see for ourselves what new life lessons we will gain from working on VeV.
The initial idea of organizing and hosting food experiences had to be put on hold due the unprecedented circumstances caused by the pandemic. Therefore, food delivery was our key focus. Without much experience in the food business we also decided to start small and grow organically. We decided that our products need to have the following:
> have a specific and small range
> be different
> be new and exciting
> be familiar enough to attract broad customer base
> be tasty
> be high quality
> be easy to manage (production and no waste)
> be easy to model and expand
> have small overheads
> require minimal initial investment
Whilst taking all the notes and researching different vegan and vegetarian businesses one idea kept on intertwining throughout – bakery. It seemed like the easiest and safest option to begin with; start by developing baked goods and move onto more substantial options once we gain more experience and the market settles with the pandemic. We did not require too much space and could produce larger quantities in our own kitchen. Based on the demand we would gradually move to larger premises but could easily try and test our business idea as a home production. On top of that, home or locally produced is becoming very sought after among demanding customers.
We managed to cover the last 4 points, but what to actually bake and how? Many ideas flew around but one thing was certain – we are going vegan! Large majority of baked goods is already vegetarian so it will be much harder to wade through the crowds. Vegan options are also on the rise, but their price tag is very often higher whilst offering lesser quality. We quickly agreed to develop a product that will be at the right price range with the same if not better quality than its non-vegan alternative.
Based on the very first point we came to conclusion that our focus should be on mini cakes, perfect for one or two people, ideal to sell to coffee shops and to deliver. Muffins, donuts, cupcakes… all made our shortlist, but those are already widely popular and readily available. All of the sudden I remembered seeing pictures of mini cheesecakes online which caught my curious eye. By definition cheesecake is made with dairy so it is exactly what we were looking for – everybody likes or at least knows cheesecake, but have they had a vegan alternative? We could easily generate great customer base and hopefully fan base to follow.
Our research quickly showcased that mini cheesecakes are very hard to find, presenting additional business opportunities and confirming validity of our idea. On top of that the composition and flavour capabilities are endless. Our minds were becoming flooded with ideas: chocolaty, fruity, nutty... but we obviously had to begin with the basics: crust and filling.
Overall we were left with two points: taste and quality. Time to start baking and looking for the perfect recipe of the new VeV Cheesecake – just the sound of it made us very excited!