The F&B (food and beverage) start up scene in Egypt has undoubtedly been growing in recent years. With numerous dining options emerging – ranging from full service restaurants to New York-style street carts – Cairenes are more spoiled for choice than ever.
Along with providing us all with much-needed culinary variety, the F&B sector has played a vital role as a sustained engine of growth amidst economic downturn. In light of its importance, we decided to showcase FooolTank – a 138 Pyramids portfolio company that is definitely leading the pack.
FooolTank, launched in 2012, has its concept rooted in none other than traditional Egyptian breakfast fare. Recognizing a gap in the market for local offerings amongst their peers and colleagues, founders Mahmoud Hosny, Hoda Hosny and Hussayn Hilal set out to reposition the Egyptian breakfast. “While we all love fool and ta3meya”, explained Hilal, “it is often perceived as being unhygienic and poorly displayed. The [FooolTank] concept is repositioning our traditional breakfast through a premium brand that is hygienic, neatly served, and still at affordable prices.”
The latter has been key to FooolTank’s success – providing quality while still being accessible to a large segment. Aside from this value proposition, the FooolTank founders credits their success to their team and its focus on customer satisfaction as a top priority.
But their journey has not been without its challenges. The founders cite the general absence of a legal and administrative framework for start-ups, as well as lack of market intelligence for entrepreneurs, as primary obstacles they had to overcome. Along with these systemic challenges, the brains behind FooolTank also had to deal with common operational problems that business owners in Egypt face. On their second day, half the staff did not show up – including the entire delivery team! With orders raining in – a good problem to have for a restaurant on its second day – the FooolTank team exhibited the kind of tenacity needed to survive in the competitive food scene in Egypt. It was all hands on deck, with the founders recruiting their friends and family to do everything from packaging and delivering orders, to cleaning the restaurant and fielding calls.
After being in the market for 3 years, the FooolTank team began looking to the future. Initially seeking out to penetrate the Gulf and European markets, FooolTank partnered with 138 Pyramids in order to focus on growth. When deciding to bring in an investor, the founders sought out some key characteristics including transparency. They also looked for an investor that was genuine, believed in the business and its founders, and most importantly provided them with the right amount of support and independence.
Looking at the F&B start-up scene in Egypt, and given the experience they’ve amassed thus far, the FooolTank team believes there is much to learn and massive room for growth. Entrepreneurs entering the F&B, the team believes, must have both determination and agility. As Hilal explains, “the market is extremely competitive – it’s the industry with the highest number of new entries per year in Egypt but also the highest in the number of businesses that shutdown. It is easy to get into the market, but if you don’t have a differential proposition and if you can’t take a few blows, you probably can’t sustain for long.” It is this kind of commitment, work ethic, and innovation that is sure to differentiate FooolTank for years to come.