I’ve had the chance to sit down with the founders of the local restaurant Grab n’ Go – Mr. Ibrahim Shiyaz and Mr. Ali Rifath. The two friends shared with me their story of how they started a unique café business and went to become successful entrepreneurs.
1- What’s the story and idea behind Grab n’ Go?
Shiyaz: The idea came from when I and Rifath were studying, we wanted to start a business that reflects health and fitness, which is what we both are passionate about.
Rifath: We have even practiced what we can get started on, and after completing our studies we decided to open a Cafe’ that is unique from other places in the Maldives.
2- So what makes this Café different from other Café’s?
Shiyaz: We wanted to create a healthy concept where customers can ‘grab’ their food in a much quicker and easier way. We spent around eight months on researching what kind of concept we should implement in our cafe’. So the results we came up with was that we want to develop Grab n’ Go like a local franchise.
3- What are the ongoing plans to expand Grab n’ Go?
Rifath: Even when we first created our business plan, we decided to open a second outlet after one year. Although it’s been about 6 months after we first opened our outlet, we have already completed a significant portion of work of our second outlet. Hopefully, our second outlet will be open in late-December 2019.
Shiyaz: We are open to having trusted parties use our concept and discussions are currently ongoing with parties from 5 islands to let their businesses places use the same concept as Grab n’ Go. Additionally, a 5-star resort in the Maldives was also interested in our concept so, I can say people have been happy and satisfied with the concept we came up with.
4- Any ongoing practices to market Grab n’ Go?
Shiyaz: We have small marketing team and we take our concept from the Mandala and we want everyone to know its Grab n’ Go when they see the Mandala. Additionally, we promote on business on social Medias.
Rifath: For our second outlet, we choose an urban area of Majeedhee Magu, so we believe the area itself would automatically contribute to the growth of the business.
5- What do you both do to relax and unwind?
Rifath: Well, we love traveling a lot. Every now and then we take a one-week trip to a local island or so. However, this is something we do without losing focus and more of a way for us to come up with more ideas.
6- What factor contributed most to the success of your business?
Shiyaz: Something we wanted to make distinct was the interior of our cafe’. We wanted to make it aesthetically appealing to everyone. So I could say our interior design has played quite a role in contributing to the success of the business.
7- I’ve noticed there are no plastic bottles here, do you have any eco-friendly practices ongoing here at the café?
Shiyaz: Since the day we opened our business to the public, we made the resolution to stop using plastic water bottles here at the cafe’. Likewise, we have switched to the use of steel straws and dropped the use of plastic straws as well.
8- What are the current challenges your business face?
Rifath: After opening our business, within a small period of time we have gained exposure and customers more than anticipated. We both craft and create most of the products and even the interior here, so it has been a bit of a challenge to open our second outlet so quickly.
9- What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs who want to start a Café business?
Shiyaz: We thought this industry would be an easy sector. However, after we got started we realized this is a work that needs focus and time. It’s all about discipline.