Rukayat Akeem Shadare
Founder Sub Delight, Lekki
Ashley’s Place, Dreamworld Africana Way (Orchid hotel road)Lekki-Epe expressway, lagos
@sub_delight / 08171971297
“Some entrepreneurs start business without testing the market – I mean, it’s imperative to start small and test the market before scaling up.” – Rukky
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background –
My name is Rukky Akeem Shadare.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Liverpool University. I am married with kids. I moved back to Nigeria in 2009 and have since then worked with a number of organizations: Human resource firm, Recruitment firm, Coca Cola, and my last job before I started Sub Delight was as a Brand Manager at Sabmiller. Till after University, I was still oblivious of what career path to choose. I actually resigned from my job to take care of my growing family
When did your ‘aha’ moment come that you thought ‘I can do this’
After my maternity break, I had to make a decision of going back to work or to continue enjoying the freedom of looking after my family. I was having a 2 minute’s conversation with my husband about an unemployed family member who was also a baker. In that conversation, I had eureka moment and began to look within myself to explore businesses I could do.
I spoke to a friend who runs a spa and she complained about the challenges of getting decent meals for her clients in spa treatment. This was my ‘aha’ moment; I realized I could make sandwiches and test this market to get feedback. I picked up the supplies and deli meat, made sandwiches from my dining table and took to the spa. We ended up selling out and this gave a huge boost to the business’ viability.
Starting days for business including funding?
I started off from my dining table with a 10,000 naira investment. Three months into the business, I got a dispatch rider and an assisting staff. I later began to use my Boys quarters as our home office. With time, our marketing improved and we secured corporate clients like Nigerian Breweries, Unilever, Chapel Hill, Total, and Mobile. As business grew, we invested in another delivery bike, making our staff strength three: two for delivery and one full time staff.
Since I wanted the business to stand out, I began comparing our brand to other well established brands in Lagos and I realized we had to improve our service and offer better value to customer. To this effect, we took up lease in Lekki and this was funded internally by my husband and me.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive in market place?
From the onset, I was keen about creating a brand that stands out from competition. I started working on our raw materials and partnered with a farmer who supplies fresh vegetables for our vegetable toppings. There’s also a lot of commitment in preparing the ingredients for making our sandwich. In order to ensure of our quality and availability of our products, I decided not to outsource the baking.
In the beginning, I was fortunate to have a baker who helped develop our bread recipe; it took about 10 trials before we got it right. She was supplying us daily at 6am but over time, we started having some challenges and decided to invest in our own cooking time so we invested in our own baking equipment. Presently, we bake our bread daily, with great commitment to quality.
Where do you see the brand in 5 yrs- 10 yrs?
In the next 5 years, I hope to have Sub Delight outlets spread out over Nigeria. It’s our goal to dominate this niche market of sandwich stores so much that Sub Delight becomes the ‘go to’ place when people desire good sandwich. Our target consumers are those who want to have and enjoy the pleasure of good sandwich.
Can you tell us the most challenging experiences you have had?
My experience at our first location almost cost me my dream. The agent who as I assumed spoke on behalf of the landlord made a huge omission in the service inferred and service offered. The verbal agreement was that the Mall power will be switched on early in the morning to enable us bake our bread and be ready for service delivery at 7am. This happened in the first few months but eventually, it became a nightmare; the power wasn’t switched on early and there were times when we had no power. At some point, I even considered fueling the generator daily with 30 liters of diesel.
All of these happened when I was away, expecting my second child. It affected our services and ultimately, sales. The whole experience was overwhelming and the Management of the mall did not make situation better either; they made business unsustainable.
We recently opened at Ashley’s mall after the second toll gate Lekki, and plans are on to get a smaller outfit in the coming months.
Another challenging experience was when our head baker who knew the recipes decided to quit as I was about embarking on a trip. I was heading to the airport when I got the news and my first response was ‘how are we going to continue without him?’ I asked the team to shut the place down because I was going to be away for some time. But then, I thought about the other products we had and decided to keep it open. As I called back to give instructions one of my staff had taken initiative and started baking the bread. Till today he still bakes our bread perfectly.
What Inspires and Motivates you to go on?
My motivation is my ability to offer satisfactory services to my customers; the fact that they love my product is pretty much motivating.
What is your work-life balance like?
I’ve been trying to build my team. So far, I have been the GM, Accountant and Marketer. There are as expected, staffing challenges but I am hopeful.
Why do you think most food entrepreneurs fail in their businesses?
Some entrepreneurs start business without testing the market – I mean, it’s imperative to start small and test the market before up-scaling. Not carrying out surveys on what people would like to eat and failing to understand people’s need and consumption trend are also possible reasons.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
At the moment, I’m the only one making my dressing but presently in the process of streamlining it.
What piece of business advice would you give someone starting up?
Make your decision and follow your vision. After time after starting my trials at Hannah’s, I had a job come my way with good pay and I had to decide between focusing on my business and letting the job slide. I thought of getting someone to help run the business, but I quickly realized it may not be done the way I would want it done, so I let the job slide and continued with my business.
More so, as a start-up, you’ll need to do your home work, talk to people as much as possible, do proper research and ask as many questions as there is. Also, mingle with people that have an entrepreneurial mindset. Bear in mind also that opening a business doesn’t guarantee the dream of steady monthly income.
What advice would you give your young self?
Have an open mind. Like when I left school, my challenge was deciding on what career part to take. I had always thought of a white collar job. However, my career in marketing has helped me to sharpen this brand.
Book and Resource Recommendation:
Harvard Business Review
App called ‘Entrepreneur’
Talking to people also gives me a better atmosphere for exchange of and knowledge enhancement.
- Some entrepreneurs start business without testing the market
- It’s imperative to start small and test the market before up-scaling
- Make your decision and follow your vision