In Focus
| Staff Reporter, Australia
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QSR Media kickstarts QSR Start-Ups series

Ever wondered what is involved with starting up a QSR Chain?  Well QSR Media through a series called "QSR Start-Ups" will find out by tracking the development of 4 young QSR brands in Australia across a period of time.

The series will report on the trials & tribulations, success stores, cautionary tales, challenges &  triumphs associated with establishing your own brand.

We've kick started the series with Q&A about some of the important aspects of launching a chain and a brand in the Australian marketplace.

 

Wayne Homschek, CEO, Pie Face (30+ stores) www.pieface.com.au

1/. Where did the idea for your business start?

We targeted food and felt the opportunity for a gourmet pie offering in conjunction with a Cafe Bakery offering would do well.   Our brother in law owned the iconic Dinky Di Pies (since 1976) so we had some insights as to what made a good cafe bakery.   Australians consume hundreds of millions of pies annually and we felt this Australian product could be re-invented and eventually do well internationally.
Over dinner with my partner Betty in Bondi we devised the Pie Face brand. Betty drew the faces to denote the different flavours immediately and the business was born.

2/. Did you go it alone or did you take in partners?

Initially just my partner Betty.  After the first store we raised capital from our friends and associates.   We have now raised over $13MM and our investors include the likes of Brett Blundy, Trevor Rowe and a range of high net worth business people/investors.

3/. Did you need much start up capital? And if so did it come from friends, or banks, or where?

Yes – as above. We wanted to perfect the store and operating format before we invited franchise partners into the business.

Steven Marks, Guzman Y Gomez (7 stores) www.guzmanygomez.com

1/. Where did the idea for your business start?

After arriving in Australia, I could not believe what was being call “Mexican food”. The Mexican food which I was accustomed to was so different..great flavours, fresh and authentic! Guzman y Gomez (named after two close friends) was born to deliver the real deal.

2/. Did you go it alone or did you take in partners?

I have a business partner, Robert Hazan, and my Director of Operations, Chris DeHuff, who is an equity holder. Both have and continue to be the driving force behind GYG (with me!). We also have an incredible team of investors with relevant “fast food” experience.

3/. Did you need much start up capital? And if so did it come from friends, or banks, or where?

The start up capital was our own money (Robert Hazan and myself), family, and eventually investors. The “right” investor will not show up until the economics of your business can prove the model.

Luke Baylis, Sumo Salad (80 stores) www.sumosalad.com

1/. Where did the idea for your business start?

Before SumoSalad was established in 2003, fast-food courts were dominated by stores offering menu items that could easily be deemed ‘unhealthy’. Through identifying this niche, my business partner and I saw the potential to offer consumers nutritious and healthy food that was also convenient, delicious and affordable, helping people with busy lifestyles to improve their diets and overall wellbeing. With only the freshest ingredients used and an option for special made-to-order items, SumoSalad aimed to rapidly change the face of the fast-food industry and food courts across Australia.
 
2/. Did you go it alone or did you take in partners?

My business partner James Miller, and I brought the ideas to life.
 
3/. Did you need much startup capital? And if so did it come from friends, or banks, or where?

Our major investor (and friend), Steve Pongrass has been on board from the start, which was a huge financial leg up and also a great mentor for our business from the get-go!

Carl Harwin, wowcow (1+ store) www.wowcow.com

1/. Where did the idea for your business start?

Ever since starting my first business while living in Hawaii at age 21, I have always been passionate about food and very creative with thinking up new concepts and business ideas. I grew up in Southern California where frozen yogurt has always been part of our culture and when I moved to Sydney in 2006, I couldn't find frozen yogurt anywhere. I come from a smoothie background in Hawaii and South Africa, so I understood this space and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to be first to market. It's all about entering a market at the right time, with the right product and being ahead of your competition.

2/. Did you go it alone or did you take in partners? 

Being new to Australia, my network was limited, so once I conceptualised wowcow, I jumped right in the deep end myself. There are many pros and cons to this but I just wanted the freedom to do my own thing and not make any quick decisions. Previous experience has taught me to take one's time when it comes to bringing in partners. It's like a marriage, so you have to be sure it's not just getting on with them and the effort they are putting in, but adding real value as well. Now that the foundation are laid in both the retail and wholesale businesses and there is serious momentum being generated out of just one flagship store, I feel it's finally time to take the next step, so now four years later I am finally bringing in the right partners to help drive the business forward.

3/. Did you need much start up capital? And if so did it come from friends, or banks, or where?

Yes, the business required a lot of start up capital because I wanted to do it right from the beginning. I don't believe in cutting corners and I wanted wowcow to look and feel like a world-class brand from the first store. In this business, it's all about creating the sizzle and having a great brand that attracts the right people. Without that, you may as well forget it. I funded the business myself which has been extremely stressful but has put me in a much stronger negotiating position with my new partners.

 

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