Sasha: We didn’t consider the idea as a business opportunity, we were just fed up with scrambled eggs. Once we ran across a Wikipedia article on granola and the period of culinary experiments started for us.
Karina: First I tried granola a couple of years ago, long before our “culinary crisis” – in the USA, I was passing Caribbean Islands in a cruise liner and I savored these wonderful breakfasts with yogurt and jam. Granola is not muesli although many people think like this. This is oat-flakes mixed with nuts, dried fruit and baked in oven. It’s much more handy than muesli as you have to cook it, and granola is ready for use. In May, we went to the Carpathians. Our leisure was rather active and we had no time to cook, so we had granola along with us.
Sasha: The business idea was born thanks to our friends we traveled with. I mean that the idea was mine, but the public opinion has urged its implementation. During one of breakfast chats, I just said: “Let’s produce granola!”
My ideas are usually commercial; I try to count the possible income at once. And Karina is different – she is very creative. Her soul and my rationality have merged in this project.
Karina: When the idea of a start-up was born, it worked like a dream. I created recipes, tastes and developed the site. The ideas came to my mind in my sleep, and then I woke up and wrote down. I have made the site myself, Google helped me. At the same time Sasha was calculating, he was searching for suppliers of oat-flakes, nuts, fruit and packages.
Sasha: In the beginning, we just bought oatmeal in one supermarket network, but later it was out of stock and the supplies were not regular, so I contacted directly the factory.
I also buy nuts, fruit and maple syrup wholesale. However, it doesn’t go so smoothly with the suppliers, constant turnover. We order for the first time and are very happy with the quality, but the next order is done carelessly. However, we deal shortly with such suppliers – we just send the order back and find new sellers.
Karina: It took us about a month to prepare everything for the project. We had timed the launch to our wedding anniversary, at the end of July. I launched the site and posted about granola in social networks – we received our first order 25 minutes later.
Name and logo
Karina: Usually writers and journalists use pseudonyms. And I have decided that a blogger and a cook must have personal unique signature. This is how Inna Frost was born, the discoverer of the Ukrainian granola.
It always seemed to me that my parents had made a fluff – the name Inna is better for me. Frost is a tribute to Germany where we have lived for a year, and there I felt craving for cooking. So the name is simple and not supernatural – Inna’s Granola.
The logo appeared in my head as a matter of course. My friend artist having listened to my wishes, draw the logo in 30 minutes. Nothing better than a spoon and corns can convey the idea of healthy breakfast, and lettuce green is my favorite color, so our logo is like this.
Sasha: OK, color was chosen as a favorite one, but from the marketing point of view, the choice is right. Scientist have proved the green color on the food package provoke an unconscious wish to buy this product as the one ecologically clean.
Karina: When we were already thinking over the idea of business, we decided to attend the workshop “Food start” organized by the Ukrainian restaurateurs. There we met the founder of Yellow coffee house Andrei Chukovskyi. On his stand, there were lots of coffee beans in manila packages. Having seen them I told: “This is for me, I’ll take it!”
Sasha: His manila bags didn’t have ZIP locks. I set myself to the task to find gripper bags, and I succeeded although they were not easy to find. We order our bags at packaging producer in Kiev. Manila bag for coffee is not only good-looking but has its advantages: keeps taste and smell, is waterproof and decomposes quicker than cardboard packages. Manila bags are eco.
Karina: All the tastes (now there are four of them) are emotions from my journeys. Each taste is associated with certainlocation.
“Smart squirrel” is New York. There are a lot of parks in the city center where live smart squirrels that love nuts. I liked to feed them, so I’ve chosen this name in remembrance of squirrels.
The only taste not connected with the journeys is “Yoga style”. However, yoga itself is a kind of journey into the world of health and harmony.
My favorite is coconut flavor, and Sasha prefers the German one. Coconut is not a bestseller, but the ones who order it are gourmets!
Sasha: My statistics show that the nut flavor is bestseller, chocolate and melon are on the second place.
We won’t be limited to four tastes. Karina is developing and perfecting the new one.
Team and process
Karina: Our team is Sasha and I. I am responsible for bakery, cooking and flavors creation. Sasha purchases, forecasts, completes the formalities and delivers orders.
Sasha: It is not an easy work for two people only, so our first goal is to acquire a production shop. Now we cook in our kitchen. To tell the truth, it’s a problem, our fridge is filled with granola ingredients, and nothing else. We want to rent premises and to find people whom Karina will teach. We want to have a cook for each flavor. The main criterion is youth and ardor, we don’t want to hire people with Soviet-era thinking.
Karina: At the beginning, I used to work 7 days a week. Later I understood that I didn’t cope with it. Now we accept order until 19:00, from Monday to Friday. Then I cook granola for the orders, and the next day Sasha delivers the orders.
The biggest order was for 10 kilos of different tastes. I remember it clearly; it was a challenge, baptism of fire. I cooked till 3 in the morning and was so tired that burnt the last portion… I burst into tears, but summoned my strength and finished the order.
Karina: One day a very polite customer called me. He questioned me a lot: how do we cook, how popular is it. The questions were rather specific. After the unctuous talk the suspicion crept in. My guesses were confirmed the day after.
Sasha: A rude and not a poor man in a luxury car. He took the order (2 packages of each taste) and asked how much a courier earned. My reply was honest – 35 hrivnas – this is the price of our delivery. He offered me to work for him and to deliver granola. The next day I went to a lawyer to apply for a patent. By the way, he was not the only one, we have learned to see through the filchers.
Sasha: Most of our clients are girls, but sometimes boys pick up the orders. I deliver 4 or 5 packs to one office every week.
Karina: The biggest achievement is that other start-ups buy our product, for example, Ohmylook.
Sasha: For the short period of our work we have understood one thing – this food is popular, interesting and in demand. The market needs us. We receive offers of cooperation very often. Now I am working on our product promotion in Lvov.
Karina: But we have to define the storage length.
Sasha: Surely, it requires a lot of work and red tape but we are working on it.
The severest trials we have underwent in the Ukrainian market was hrivna devaluation. Prices are increasing and we try not to boost prices, but our income is dropping.
Karina: A founder of a new coffee house has contacted us recently; he wants to include desserts from our granola to the menu.
We have also launched a project “IhelpChildren” – we sell handmade bracelets with little spoons. We donate the proceeds to Prolisok orphanage.
Sasha: For now, we have a lot of plans for the Ukrainian market. However, we don’t want to be limited to Ukraine only. Hold on, Europe! We will start from Portugal –one pretty and small restaurant (opened by Karina’s parents) has already supplemented the menu with our desserts. And we promise we will become a famous brand in Europe!