The Cereal Project

Have you followed 'THE CEREAL PROJECT' in the news?  An idea which started out as a normal part of college life for many and which is now one of the newest franchise concepts available in the market?  If not, it’s an interesting story on many fronts, including:

  • How to turn an idea into a pan
  • How to create effective PR
  • The imporatance of proper capitalization
  • A look at the trials and tribulations a startup can expect an experience
  • How to begin franchising

The story revolves around twin brothrs Kenneth and Josua Rader 25) and their childhood friend Michael Glassman (26).  They’d grown up together since the age of 6 in Kendall, FL and became such good friends that Glassman is considered an honorary twin. 

In September 2004, while hanging out with friends, watching TV and eating cereal an idea popped into Kenneth’s head, “Why not create a place where people can hang out with friends, watch TV and eat cereal”.  As days went by the idea continued to buzz around in his head, so he stayed up all one night pouring his thoughts onto paper.  He e-mailed the document, known as “THE CEREAL PROJECT” to his brother Josh.   To help further refine the idea, they soon turned to their childhood friend Michael Glassman.

By the end of November 2004, the trio had refined their ideas and reduced them into a 19-page business plan.  The idea was simple – a Starbucks-style café where customers could mix and match more than 40 different kinds of breakfast cereal with 60 different toppings for about $3.25 a bowl.

Between November ’04 and April ’05 with Business Plan in hand they raised enough money from friends and family to cover their estimated $180,000 start-up cost.   In April of ’05 they obtained an SBA loan of $100,000 to cover any unexpected or unplanned expenses.

In August of ’05 they sign a 5-year lease on a 1,700 square foot space at Rivera Plaza just across from the University of Miami and next to the shops at Sunset Place.  At this point they hoped to be open and ready for business by November.  You’ve heard me say many times: in business everything costs twice as much and takes twice as long.  ‘THE CEREAL PROJECT’ would be no different as governmental red tape and hurricanes began to push schedules back and budgets upward.

In October 2005 – they placed their first order for 25,000 biodegradable cereal bowls, entered into a distribution agreement with Seattle’s Best coffee and hire an assistant manager.  This is all being done in spite of the fact that they’ve yet to obtain the last of their permits which had prevented construction from getting underway.

On February 4, 2006 at 10:16 a.m. they served their first customer and by the end of the day more than 400 customers had filed past the counter and the 'THE CEREAL PROJECT' would was a reality and THE CEREAL BOWL  was born.

If you like your cereal cold you my want to try Frostbite which is made up of Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini-Wheat, Snow Caps, and coconut.  If you prefer hot cereal hot, you might want to try out Hall’n Oats which is made with Oatmeal, Maple Syrup, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Coconut and Chopped Walnuts.  If you’re more of a a free spirit perhaps you should opt for Create-A-Bowl where you can invent your own perfect bowl of cereal by mixing and matching more than 40 cereals and 60 toppings.  You might also think about going Beyond-the-Bowl with an Oatmeal Smoothie known as an ‘Oatie’ or try one of the many Cereal Shakes, Cereal Bars or Granola Bars. 

Once you have your Bowl-in-Hand, you’ll be able to dine in an atmosphere that is every bit as exciting as your cereal creation.  The dinning areas are furnished with comfy couches and stocked with magazines and newspapers.  You’ll find plasma TVs broadcasting everything from CNN Headline News to cartoons, or perhaps you’d prefer the peace and quite of one of the study areas equipped with WIFI Internet.  

During the first 3 months of operation The Cereal Bowl received the kind of press that most small businesses can only dream of.  They were featured on Mancow Muller’s nationally syndicated radio show.  The Miami New Times declared them as “The Best Restaurant for Kids” and Time Magazine feature them in an article about the national cereal craze. The Miami Herald followed them from October of 2005, when they were first trying to get their idea off the ground right through their first year of operations reporting on their successes and challenges as they fought through delays in construction and the red tape of obtaining permits.

The following links provide a month by month accounting, as reported by Jim Wyss of the Miami Herald of the four months leading up to the opening of The Cereal Bowl and the first eight months of operations.OCT 2005   NOV 2005    DEC 2005   JAN 2006    FEB 2006    MAR 2006APR 2006    MAY 2006    JUN 2006    JUL 2006    AUG 2006   SEP 2006In October 2006 The Miami Herald ran a wrap-up to the story which you can click here to read.  The paper also produced a Slide Show which provides an cronological sequence and photos to the process.

Earlier this week the Miami Herald ran a new headline which read The Cereal Bowl takes breakfast national with franchises.  The article reports that Maryland real estate developer Mel Silicki and his business partner recently became The Cereal Bowl’s first franchisee and they’ve committed to opening 16-stores in the Washington D.C. Metro area over the next 8 years, the first of which is scheduled to be up and running by winter.

It's a neat story - a neat concept and three sharp youn men.  Will they succussfully launch The Cereal Bowl into a successful franchise, I don't know.  But what I do know is that they've done an awful lot of stuff right, and when you do things right - you achieve the right result, more often than not!

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Comments

Predatory Franchise Buyers?

We have the one guest who likes to place all the blame on the franchisor and government.  This guest likes to refer to nearly all franchisors as Predatory, Greedy, Rapacious, Voracious and many other less flatering terms.

I wonder how the guest will address the fact that it was only after The Cereal Bowl had received more than 2,000 franchise requests that they actually began to take the steps necessary to franchise the business.  It sounds to me like the appetite to invest in the 'next big thing' is as big as America's appetite for cereal.

I greatly admire the work of these 3 young entrepreneurs, not in building a franchise network but simply in building a single location and for doing the Right Things - The Right Way!

On the surface I like the concept, and I don't even like cereal, cold or hot.  I'm not yet ready to embrace the concept or condemn it.  The documented history and media interest will certainly facilitate future due diligence.  Here's a few thoughts to ponder:

  • Rising milk and grain cost, must certainly be a concern. How have they or will they help the Zee to control these costs.
  • Any of the major QSR brands could quickly and easily enter the Cereal Bowl business, so Location - Location - Location will be a vital component as it is with most of QSR.  How have they or will they address the real estate issues.   Atmosphere will remain a key to success, both in decor and management style.
  • And then there's the core demographic of "A College Student" who eats cereal because it's FAST - EASY & CHEAP when you pour it from a box at home.  Not so cheap at $5 bucks a head. 

Considering the history which is so well documented they've come up with the right answers so far - I hope they continue to do so!  They're off to a good start and seem to have the right attitude to boot.

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

GRREAT

$3.25 a bowl? I don't pay that per box.
They better be GRREAT!!!!!!!!

FRANMASTER

1st Acquisition for Kahala-Cold Stone

Newly formed Kahala - Cold Stone has made its first acquisition by acquiring Cereality Cereal Bar & Cafe

Cereality was the first into the QSR segment to introduce the cereal franchise concept, allowing customers to choose from more than 30 different brand-name cereals, over 40 different toppings, a variety of milks (including soy and lactose-free) and choices of hot and cold beverages.  Pajama-clad Cereologists™ prepare orders to customers' specifications.

"When we formed Kahala•Cold Stone, we promised to aggressively seek out acquisitions of leading brands in the QSR space to grow the portfolio of franchise brands for partners, and this is the first of many to come," said Kevin Blackwell, chairman and chief strategist of Kahala•Cold Stone. Cereality is one of the most exciting, distinctive concepts to be launched in the past decade, attracting a great deal of interest from franchisees and cerealcraving customers alike."

Read Press Release

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

I'm dumping mine and buying this one.....

just so I can go to work in pj's.  Of course, I'll still need to put on makeup or I'll drive the customers away; besides THAT's probably a requirement in the franchise agreement.

Rhino Super Center

COPYCAT OF LEWD FOOD

15 years ago a client of mine who used to hang our a lot with his girlfriend in front of a television set discovered that certain food shapes had much more than simply culinary potential.

What she did with zucchini, cucumbers and bananas, and what he did with doughnuts and bagels cast a whole new perspective upon the concept of cream pie.

And, to be certain that they were being earth friendly, they adverted in their franchise marketing materials that, when you were done with these cumestibles, you could eat them.

They test marketed the concept, expanding it to food specialties that, while perhaps not themselves the gastronomic equivalent of a rabbit habit, included foods that were easily consumed directly from the human anatomy, using each others bodies as serving platters and little dishes.

Paul Newman distributed their "Tastes Just Like Me" sauces, with a certain percentage going to PETA. Ben & Jerry provided a huge promotional payment each year for the exclusive right to handle their creams.

Waiters and waitresses went through extensive testing to assure that your gums wouldn't become compromised by any of several assorted "gastronomically transmissible" maladies.

They joined the IFA and had a Lewd Food booth at every IFA franchise fair that drew the biggest throngs interested in the many uses to which Angel Hair could be put.    

Ultimately they pooped out due to a fierce campaign by Jerry Falwell against the godless notion that food might be associated with sport sex. The trademark lies abandonned if anyone is currently interested in picking up and running with it. I still have all the old franchise legal work on a disk.

SEAMUS MULDOONwww.FranchiseRemedies.com

Predatory Franchise Buyers?

We have the one guest who likes to place all the blame on the franchisor and government.  This guest likes to refer to nearly all franchisors as Predatory, Greedy, Rapacious, Voracious and many other less flatering terms.

I wonder how the guest will address the fact that it was only after The Cereal Bowl had received more than 2,000 franchise requests that they actually began to take the steps necessary to franchise the business.  It sounds to me like the appetite to invest in the 'next big thing' is as big as America's appetite for cereal.

I greatly admire the work of these 3 young entrepreneurs, not in building a franchise network but simply in building a single location and for doing the Right Things - The Right Way!

On the surface I like the concept, and I don't even like cereal, cold or hot.  I'm not yet ready to embrace the concept or condemn it.  The documented history and media interest will certainly facilitate future due diligence.  Here's a few thoughts to ponder:

  • Rising milk and grain cost, must certainly be a concern. How have they or will they help the Zee to control these costs.
  • Any of the major QSR brands could quickly and easily enter the Cereal Bowl business, so Location - Location - Location will be a vital component as it is with most of QSR.  How have they or will they address the real estate issues.   Atmosphere will remain a key to success, both in decor and management style.
  • And then there's the core demographic of "A College Student" who eats cereal because it's FAST - EASY & CHEAP when you pour it from a box at home.  Not so cheap at $5 bucks a head. 

Considering the history which is so well documented they've come up with the right answers so far - I hope they continue to do so!  They're off to a good start and seem to have the right attitude to boot.

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

1st Acquisition for Kahala-Cold Stone

Newly formed Kahala - Cold Stone has made its first acquisition by acquiring Cereality Cereal Bar & Cafe

Cereality was the first into the QSR segment to introduce the cereal franchise concept, allowing customers to choose from more than 30 different brand-name cereals, over 40 different toppings, a variety of milks (including soy and lactose-free) and choices of hot and cold beverages.  Pajama-clad Cereologists™ prepare orders to customers' specifications.

"When we formed Kahala•Cold Stone, we promised to aggressively seek out acquisitions of leading brands in the QSR space to grow the portfolio of franchise brands for partners, and this is the first of many to come," said Kevin Blackwell, chairman and chief strategist of Kahala•Cold Stone. Cereality is one of the most exciting, distinctive concepts to be launched in the past decade, attracting a great deal of interest from franchisees and cerealcraving customers alike."

Read Press Release

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

I'm dumping mine and buying this one.....

just so I can go to work in pj's.  Of course, I'll still need to put on makeup or I'll drive the customers away; besides THAT's probably a requirement in the franchise agreement.

Rhino Super Center

Kahala- Cold Stone - not very inspiring cereal killers

The Kahala-Cold Stone tie up seemed to be a merger of equals.  ( weaquals, weakquals ? )

 But all is not lost, they have agressively sought out a new leading brand.

Hmmm - when you have 1/2 a pound of crap in your left hand and 1/2 a pound of crap in your right hand and whack em together what do you have?

A pound of crap.

Pizzaguy

       

 

REAL PEOPLE

Real people eat bacon/ham/sausage, eggs, beans and bread and jam for breakfast.

It's these cereal eatin yuppies who are ruining the world with their achey breaky flaky notions of predatory franchising.

At Bob Evans you can git yo breakfast and sit there eatin amongst real Americans wearing real overalls like God meant folks to do, instead of criticizing free enterprise. 

Seamus Ignatius Muldoonwww.FranchiseRemedies.com

Kahala- Cold Stone - not very inspiring cereal killers

The Kahala-Cold Stone tie up seemed to be a merger of equals.  ( weaquals, weakquals ? )

 But all is not lost, they have agressively sought out a new leading brand.

Hmmm - when you have 1/2 a pound of crap in your left hand and 1/2 a pound of crap in your right hand and whack em together what do you have?

A pound of crap.

Pizzaguy

       

 

Y so PizzaGuy?

Upon what do you base your statements?

Kahala has operated a pretty tight ship.  Cold Stone has delivered some pretty innovative tools to their zees.

The cereal concept is interesting - and becomes more viable with the support of a Kahala-Cold Stone than as a small, under capitalized start-up Zor.

Just curious as to why you'd be so hard on Kahala - Cold Stone? 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Where's the GRITS?

You left out the GRITS ... and of course Real People eat their GRITS with salt - pepper & butter!

Their should be a law against puttin' sugar on your GRITS! 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Y so PizzaGuy?

Upon what do you base your statements?

Kahala has operated a pretty tight ship.  Cold Stone has delivered some pretty innovative tools to their zees.

The cereal concept is interesting - and becomes more viable with the support of a Kahala-Cold Stone than as a small, under capitalized start-up Zor.

Just curious as to why you'd be so hard on Kahala - Cold Stone? 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

Where's the GRITS?

You left out the GRITS ... and of course Real People eat their GRITS with salt - pepper & butter!

Their should be a law against puttin' sugar on your GRITS! 

Believe & Succeed,DaleFranSynergy, Inc.Synergizing Franchising!www.fransynergy.com

True Grit(s)

Real People eat cheese with their grits and have their eggs over easy and their hash browns scattered, smothered and covered.

I'm now starving but it's past breakfast so I'm off to the meat and 3 to get some decent barbeque  

PizzaGuy

Cereal Killers

Have a look at their brands individually, decidedly "B" grade - but go ahead - have a look at each one in turn.

Pajama clad experts fit right in 

PizzaGuy

Biscuits & Gravy Too

Gaaawd, now I'm starving!  I shouldn't have read this thread on an empty stomach.

Rhino Super Center

True Grit(s)

Real People eat cheese with their grits and have their eggs over easy and their hash browns scattered, smothered and covered.

I'm now starving but it's past breakfast so I'm off to the meat and 3 to get some decent barbeque  

PizzaGuy

Cereal Killers

Have a look at their brands individually, decidedly "B" grade - but go ahead - have a look at each one in turn.

Pajama clad experts fit right in 

PizzaGuy

Biscuits & Gravy Too

Gaaawd, now I'm starving!  I shouldn't have read this thread on an empty stomach.

Rhino Super Center

I don't see it either

But that's probably because I am not a cereal eater.  While I applaud them for their success in what is definitely a unique niche, I think they'll need more than luck to translate that into a successful franchise.  On the other hand, my wife adores cold stone creamery, so while the franchise may have some issues, the concept appears quite solid (each one I've gone to, in multiple states, have always had a rather large line).

Cereal, pajamas, TV?  Sounds interesting, but more like a fad interesting, not like a sustainable franchise system interesting.

YOU KNOW

You know, there jest aint nuthin you can do that some cheap sumbitch won't whine about the price of.

Hey. If you don't like the price, go elsewhere. Aint nobody set up their business for your sorry arse anyhow.

Fortunately, we never run into that kind at Muldoon's. You whine about anything - even once - or even just get a pained expression on yo face when the bill comes and you can never come back again. Do do your drinkin at the Double Bubble, and eat in your car. Chances are you aint savin it up to spend on yo old lady either - God help her. 

Richard Solomonwww.FranchiseRemedies.com

I don't see it either

But that's probably because I am not a cereal eater.  While I applaud them for their success in what is definitely a unique niche, I think they'll need more than luck to translate that into a successful franchise.  On the other hand, my wife adores cold stone creamery, so while the franchise may have some issues, the concept appears quite solid (each one I've gone to, in multiple states, have always had a rather large line).

Cereal, pajamas, TV?  Sounds interesting, but more like a fad interesting, not like a sustainable franchise system interesting.