The Entrepreneur(s): Alan and Gary Keery, Cereal Killer Café

The "weird twins that own a business and live together" on their recipe for viral success, popularity in the Middle East, and bad experiences with banks

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Founders: Alan and Gary Keery
Company: Cereal Killer Café
Description in one line: World’s first international cereal café
Previous companies: None
Turnover: £900,000
12 month target: £1.4m

Business growth

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • We offer 120 different cereals from around the world
  • There is a nostalgic interior littered with 80s and 90s cereal memorabilia
  • We also offer beds

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Before our business even opened its doors, we were known globally after trending worldwide on Twitter and Facebook with press stretching from CNN (USA) to ABC (Australia) and a lot in between.

Not bad for our first business venture!

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

We always keep a close eye on our KPIs, average transaction value and units per transaction as this ensures our staff are delivering our service model.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We are pretty popular in the Middle East, something we never thought we would say! As a result, we have found license partners in Dubai, Kuwait, and Jordan, and will see cafes opening in each country in the next couple of months.

We have also sold the rights to a number of other countries and in 2017 will see cafe openings in Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

Describe your growth funding path:

We injected our own savings into the business, and sought remaining funds from Lloyds; which was a disaster. They wasted a lot of our time and submitted an incomplete business plan which was declined. This then affected our company credit score and as a result we were refused by a second bank.

This didn’t stop us though and we found our extra funding through Virgin StartUp, who were amazing throughout the process.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

The internet and social media.Without this our business wouldn’t have had the reach it did. One article Mashable published about us had over 115,000 shares.

I think our story of opening a cereal café and being identical twins with beards was the recipe for viral success.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We’d like to see café in a few more countries. We know our café will never be a Starbucks but we are a fun experience eatery and are already in talks with a few other partners for expansion.

Our ultimate goal would be to launch our own line of cereal. We now know first-hand what customers are after and we would love to amaze people with the some incredible flavours.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Dealing with suppliers and manufacturers that don’t deliver what is promised and on time.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Approaching banks for loans. We should’ve looked into specialist companies who specialise in helping start-ups, but we were unaware of them at the time.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Taking too much of other people’s advice.

How will your market look in three years?

Although the cereal industry is in the decline, we have created a new way of enjoying it. Our idea has been replicated in other countries; for instance Kellogg’s recently opened a cereal café in Times Square.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Have passion about what you do.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Buying our first house. Yes, we are the weird twins that own a business and live together.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

On the job – neither of us went to university and we have never regretted it.

What would make you a better leader?

Having three arms!

What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?

Some of the difficulties we’d face with importing and exporting.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:

Instagram for the business, and eBay for personal use.

Business book:

The Cereal Killer Café cookbook. It might not tell you how to run a business but it can tell you how to make a killer Lucky Charms cheesecake!

The Cereal Killer Café features in our round-up of quirky cafés, take a look here.

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