Building a successful food business

Building a successful food business

Building a successful food business

by January 28, 2016 0 comments

Highly sought Executive Officer of IbomSoups, a niche catering brand with headquarters in Lagos, Mrs Itoro Effiong-Bright, popularly called Chef, tells of how her ability to cook 60 types of meals has brought her fame and money. DANIEL ESSIET reports.

THE Executive Officer of Ibom Soups, a niche catering brand with headquarters in Lagos, Mrs Itoro Effiong-Bright, comes from a highly successful and illustrious business lineage. With a distinguished educational background, she always dreamed to be a banker. She wanted to be one so she could get to wear lovely suits. She bagged a degree in Banking and Finance from University of Uyo,Akwa Ibom State.

But in her heart, she was contending with a passion for cooking. As she explained, while assisting with her mum in the market many years ago, she saw a gap – professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to meet up with work as well as home demands. After office hours, it was not uncommon to see men and women, young and old stop by the market in their hundreds to pick up food items for themselves and their families. She found out it was challenging for working couples to cook since they had no time. While this was a challenge, she also saw a business opportunity that was not explored.

She figured out she should carve a niche if she started a business that not only provided ready-to-eat pot-sized meals but also in ready-to cook ingredients, mostly of Nigerian origin.

Though this was a burning business opportunity, after graduation, she took up employment with the biggest telecoms operator in Nigeria. While enjoying the perks of a lucrative job, Mrs Effiong-Bright was not fulfilled. Her love for cooking was so much. She resigned her employment to launch her catering business.

The trade-off was an expensive one. It was like leaving certainty to the unknown.

Mrs Itoro Effiong-Bright went through challenges, such as lack of finances, working alone and fears of how people would respond to her food. It was after participating in Nigerian government’s entrepreneurship scheme ‘YOUWIN’ that she secured some funds to jump start her business.

Mrs Itoro Effiong-Bright went for meals that will give her clients a satisfaction of having homemade meals. The response was instant and her customer base rose. Her love for food, combined with detailed and thorough industry knowledge, is helping her to deliver phenomenal experience at a price which doesn’t create a hole in the pocket. With Ibom soups,the company is rewriting the rules of food business where one can now eat quality food at reasonable prices and the company’s business strategy is geared towards developing brand loyalty that makes people keep coming back for more excellent food services.

At least 60 types of soups are prepared for the menu and delivered to the doorsteps of the clients using the fastest means of transport, and motorcycles.

Everything on the menu is deliciously honest. The food is straight from the heart, inspired by the dark abyss of gluttony.

Within a short period, Ibom Soups has become a behemoth in the sector, getting first place calls to cater for events and companies.

The business has also taken a big leap providing livelihood for her. Today, she has no regret dumping her highly paying telecommunications job for food business. Apart from fulfilling her dream,Mrs Effiong-Bright is delighted that she has used her passion to heal homes by teaching wives and couples how to prepare nice meals. Each day she prepares meals for people. It means long days of waking up early to oversee food prep in the morning and late nights checking on the cleanliness of the transportation van after a shift. She ensures everything is done to enable her hit the road in time and speed up her service. Once the supply is done and the pressure starts winding down, it’s time to clean up and head back to the kitchen to get ready for the next order. She has embraced the life of a peddler, which requires a level of dedication that many underestimate. There are hours of training, preparation, lifting, cleaning, and transportation.

For her, the quickest road to success is operating the business herself and making a full-time commitment to oversee the business.

Being on the team gives her the opportunity to define and articulate the brand personally to her customers. Today, she describes her company as a “comfortable, sustainable” business with seven employees.

She is a celebrated chef and culinary coach. Her clients are professionals and ambitious entrepreneurs who are necessarily busy but do not see their busy schedules as an excuse to eat poorly prepared, unhealthy meals.

Her words: “Our meals are not just tasty, if the endorsements of our clients are anything to go by, then our high sense of hygiene is definitely our big plus. For private orders, we would be at your doorstep with your choice of meal and for public orders, you can be sure with us, your parties will never be the same particularly when we are involved in cooking and serving your guests.” Her website serves as a virtual gastronomic hub where people opted for and choose from a myriad range of delicacies, all from the comfort of their homes. Apart from that, it also helped people to know which culinary options to choose from by providing updated menus, reviews, ratings, and booking options. She also is on the mission to encourage intertribal marriages teaching young women to cook meals from any tribe in Nigeria.

Right now, she runs a soup school where she teaches couples and singles how to cook healthy appetizing meals. Based on the success that the company , has had so far, Mrs Effiong-Bright through the Ibom soups company has been able to train organisations and gave speeches in women conferences. She offers specific programmes to help their food artisans. she hosts discussions and does a lot of networking and outreach.

For her, the first steps to launching a viable food business is to develop food items that people actually want to buy. She makes sure the food is delicious, of course. She stressed the importance of seeking out people who will give honest, realistic feedback. She would want first-time food entrepreneurs to get to know their business slowly before dedicating all of their resources to it — for instance, by testing out their product among friends and families before even committing to a commercial kitchen. A Banking and Finance graduate of University of Uyo,she has been opportuned to attend some business institutions, among them, Fate Foundation – Nigeria’s foremost Entrepreneurship School. Her vision is “to be the most sought after food vendor brand for working class people within the urban areas . She has ambitious plans for the future as well. She aims to connect with more corporate organisations and expand the products and services the company offers. She is always attending training to help the company develop a professional sales presentation with an improved capability statement.She has spent years developing her team, infrastructure, designing soups , and building capacity. With the right infrastructure in place and several game-changing pieces of business imminent, she looks forward to growing the business while recognising that the systems and processes she has in place now may need to change as she strives to realise her goal of selling to more Nigerians with planned expansion.

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