How a former Emirati government official became a food entrepreneur
August 5, 2022
“I have a great love for food and everyone around me knows that I am a foodie and appreciate good food,” shared Mohamed M. Al Falasi, a UAE national. “It is this passion and love that propelled me to start not just one but two of my own food businesses.”
As well as being a self-proclaimed foodie, Al Falasi is also a young food entrepreneur who had to make a significant career change when he decided to take the entrepreneurial step.
Over the past decade, Al Falasi has held various senior positions in government offices, as well as working with auditing giant KPMG, before venturing into food entrepreneurship to be his own boss in 2017.
With business and finance degrees, Al Falasi understood the science of managing personal finances, allowing him to save and plan financially enough to eventually start his own food company ‘Feels Juice Bar & Kitchen’ without any outside investment or financing.
is this passion [for food] and the love that propelled me to start not just one, but two of my own food businesses.
– Mohamed M. Al Falasi
Food, with “good vibes”
The wellness establishment promotes clean eating and healthy living, serving juices, smoothies, and salads, among other dishes, while prided itself on its “good vibes,” with a branch located in Sunset Beach.
“I think everything is based on an emotional connection: people may not remember what we say, but they will always remember how we made them feel,” Al Falasi said.
However, ‘Feels Juice Bar & Kitchen’, which was launched amid the pandemic, was not Al Falasi’s first entrepreneurial venture. In 2017, the Emirati opened the Dubai-based cafe ‘Saddle’, making ‘Feels’ the second business he currently owns and manages.
Feels, is not the first business venture
“By the time we came up with the idea to launch Feels Juice Bar & Kitchen, we had already launched a successful F&B (food and beverage service) brand – Saddle,” said Al Falasi. “So in order to launch Feels, we saved internally and were able to invest and launch a second brand.
“Through a discreet allocation, the money also went towards developing the concept of developing a new juice bar and kitchen, as well as supporting a plan studied during the year to build the brand.”
Outside of the two businesses he operates, Al Falasi also revealed his four loves: food, sports, sports cars, and travel. This frequent traveler enjoys tasting the local cuisine of the places he visits, as well as playing paddle tennis and riding a bicycle in his spare time.
How much did it initially cost you to start ‘Feels’?
“My initial start-up investment [for ‘Feels Juice Bar & Kitchen’] it came from my personal savings, which I was able to make while working and studying,” Al Falasi said. “In the beginning we didn’t take any investment.”
Al Falasi estimated that his monthly operating costs are currently in the six figures, while ensuring constant monitoring to ensure that overhead costs are not higher than incoming revenue.
“We also have a profit and loss (P&L) system in place to ensure that all of our numbers are monitored, analyzed and optimized for future investment and growth,” he added, referring to an income statement that explains the daily fluctuation in revenue and income and the causes of the changes.
Here are three key challenges Al Falasi points to when running food outlets.
“Running a successful F&B business is not an easy task. The vision I have always worked for was not to open a restaurant, but to build a brand that would last through the years. To that, I faced many challenges,” added Al Falasi.
#1: Figure out the logistics of setting up a business
Al Falasi said his first challenge was understanding the logistics and details that go into building a food and beverage business, adding that he believes in a food entrepreneur who wears all the necessary hats to be able to have 360 degree insight. degrees and manage the business. daily operations.
“I had to learn to develop commercial and brand strategies and research different recipes and adapt them to people’s tastes. I learned to be a chef, operations manager, HR. H H. (Human Resources) and marketing, as well as purchasing and searching for suppliers”, added Al Falasi.
#2: Initial Operational Difficulties Faced Daily
In the first few years of business, new businesses face many different challenges. Some are harder to get over than others, and according to a global study by CNBC, about 20 percent of small businesses fail by the end of their first year around the world.
I had to learn to develop commercial and brand strategies and research different recipes and adapt them to people’s taste.
– Mohamed M. Al Falasi
“Setting up the business is one thing; operating it is a whole different world. Adapting and coping with daily obstacles was another challenge, however, these daily challenges taught us to be flexible and adaptable while looking for solutions that do not disrupt or change our operations,” he said.
“Despite the daily challenges I face, knowing that I have people around me who share a common vision and want my business to grow as much as I do, really motivates me to keep going.”
#3: Form a team that shares the same vision
More than half of those surveyed in the CNBC study also said that the most important issue companies faced initially was the quality of the workforce, which is considered a difficult statistic to consider, especially since most Challenges cannot be overcome without a team working to achieve business goals. .
“Finding talented people is not difficult, being in the United Arab Emirates we have access to many local and international talents who are highly qualified,” Al Falasi explained.
“The challenge we faced was building a team that was talented and shared the same vision for the company. We had to make sure that the people we hired believed in our values and understood what we stand for and what we intend to do.”
What is your advice to entrepreneurs looking to start a business?
• Start something you are passionate about
Al Falasi: “Passion is the key driver when the going gets tough. If you don’t have passion for what you’re starting, when times are tough you’ll lose interest. “
“Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, when times get tough you need to watch your own back and follow your gut. Every business has its ups and downs, however if you are truly passionate you will find a way to make it work.”
• Do your homework and study your business idea well
Al Falasi: “Ideas are always flowing in our brain, however, to confirm that the idea is good and worthwhile, you need to research the market and the business idea before turning it into something tangible. Only when you do your due diligence will you know if the idea is feasible or not.
“The more you do your homework, the more prepared you are. If you’re entering a saturated and competitive market, like F&B, you need to study your competitors and understand how your idea will stand out.”
Al Falasi offers two money lessons to incorporate into your personal finances
Money Lesson #1: Have a financial provision for good and bad days
Al Falasi: “It is important to be prepared for any challenge or growth opportunity that comes your way. Whether you’re setting aside more of your personal money for times like this or enlisting the help of an investor, having backup money outside of your original investment is crucial.”
Money Lesson #2: Have an Active and Passive Stream of Income When Buying Real Estate
Al Falasi: “Investing in real estate offers cash flow, tax breaks, capital building and hedging against inflation. Having both an active and passive stream of income is very important and I think real estate is a great passive way to make money.”