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!