Research was first on my list. I nearly went straight into starting a business plan, only that my sister urged me to do the research. Everything you read about setting up a business will tell you the reason most people fail is because they haven’t done the research. The idea might sound great to you and your friends but that doesn’t mean everyone else will like it. I start with secondary research and document things like the value and consumption of the egg market, consumer lifestyle trends, food trends etc. I got a lot of this from countless Bord Bia studies which were so helpful. Other sources involved a lot of googling! I also spent a lot of time looking around the world for similar businesses, I found two in London, both started as pop ups/market stalls and are now opening restaurants, a couple in America (one called eggslut – amazing) and a few in Dubai – apparently they’re mad for the eggs in Dubai! As time went on, the more I looked, the more I came across. Some use eggs as a theme in their name and serve all types of food but others specialise in eggs. I start thinking this is going to become a trend… obviously not driven by me wanting that at all!! You have to be careful doing research because it’s easy to fit your idea into a trend when it might not really work, I was trying to be as objective as possible.
Now to primary research…
…..It’s stalking time!! No one likes cold calling and it doesn’t get any easier but having done what feels like a life’s worth for feelingfrugal, I am a bit more gutsy than I used to be. Most people are really helpful and if they’re not then you haven’t lost anything. I’ve learnt that just talking to people wherever, whenever you can is the most valuable way of getting information. Even when you don’t think anything will come of it, you normally pick up something.
At this stage, my idea is to get into the lunch time markets in town so I start locally with the market at Grand Canal. I end up chatting to a couple of stall holders but spend a good bit of time with The Paella guys who were so helpful and give me loads of info. They are the kings of the lunch time markets and have the operation down to a tee. I head to Spencer dock, Sandyford and Mespil road markets and chat to various different stalls to assess the environment for my product. There are very few healthy alternatives and the ones that are, are salad based. I see my product as a healthy but hot and filling alternative, tasty enough not to crave a bar of chocolate afterwards. What’s the demographic like at these markets? I’ve tried but can’t quite tell if there are muscles under those suits. There is a mix of young, working professionals and I do think they would be swayed to try omelettes, if nothing else to feel instantly good about not giving into temptation the moment they order the healthy option. I also head into town and walk from street to street looking at what’s out there on the healthy cafe front. It is definitely on the increase….have you seen Upper Baggot Street!!
I call/meet the market organisers and pitch my idea. They seem keen as it is unique and the healthy element is definitely the way they see things going. Mind you, the impression I get from others is that they’re not really interested in the businesses and as long as they have the rent they’re happy. Now all I need to do is set it up!! I really did not think there was so much involved in this! I’ve literally dived straight into this and sometimes I catch myself wondering what the hell I’m at! But the minute I think that, it’s behind me again so that has to be a good thing right?!
Looking online at the market stalls in London, there was such a huge focus on creativity, something I felt was missing from the stalls in Dublin. I really wanted to bring that creativity to my stall to give people a real experience of what my brand is about. The word ‘omelette’ doesn’t overly excite either so I wanted to use the look and feel of the stall to draw people in, then I could sell them a gourmet omelette. The product is number one and what will bring people back, but to bring people back you have to get them in and this was the best way I saw of doing that.
I needed inspiration for the stall and a great friend lives in London so I headed over for a couple of days to do some research and have a much needed catch up on this mental adventure! It also gave me a chance to visit the egg based restaurants there. After visiting a tonne of markets and taking about 100 photos, I had some good ideas to go home with. I also had the best bruschetta I’ve ever had in my life at one of the stalls….this later became the inspiration for my Mario & Luigi omelette.
I was beginning to get a sense of whether my product would work and how it would fit in but the research wasn’t over…