Business ideas usually come from the unexpected of situations. And anyone who has previously had a “light bulb moment” of a business idea usually comes to a conclusion that they are the only ones having that idea till they decide to further their research only to realize that there already established players in that niche. And this was the case with Aurelia, the 25-year-old entrepreneur behind Aurelia’s Kitchen254, a company that specializes in a home-made gourmet and snacks with flavoured popcorn as her flagship product.
“I like experimenting with everything and one day I made popcorns as I was watching a movie, and just decided to spice them up with ginger and cayenne pepper and I liked it.”
Aurelia Kiseu’s passion for cooking coupled with creative design and curiosity inspired her to dive into the world of entrepreneurship. It was this desire that led her to start researching if this could be indeed a viable business.
“I didn’t know there was already someone doing what I had thought of; I was all psyched up and thought that I’ll be the first to introduce this in Kenya.”
Upon her research, she discovered that there was already an established player in the industry who was doing well but nevertheless advanced her research to find her competitive edge against Milyas, one of the main local players in the popcorn space. With her strong desire to establish a thriving flavoured popcorn business, she started producing different flavours of the same and she would call her friends to come taste them out and gather all the necessary feedback to get her to the next level.
Started with a Loan
Armed with Kshs 20,000 from her savings and an additional loan of Kshs 30,000 from her father, she progressed to establish Aurelia’s Kitchen 254 early this year.
“My dad has been so supportive and encouraging; he loaned me Kshs 30,000 to start off but
told me to pay back in installments of Kshs 2,000 every two months so that I could learn the huge responsibility it comes with taking loans”
According to a market analysis by Technavio, the global sales of popcorn are predicted to increase by more than 40% to $12.4bn between 2017 and 2020. This growth is fuelled by rising demand for ready-to-eat convenience foods and diverse flavours such as caramel and cheese. Locally, a popcorn prices range from Kshs 90 to Kshs 350.
Aurelia’s Kitchen 254 produces gourmet food and snacks but currently, the focus has been on richly flavoured popcorn. She primarily sells to events like birthday parties, baby showers, corporate events, weddings and even individuals. The company which has a team of 3 has also partnered with Kiddie World, an entertainment company that develops creative and innovative events and products for kids.
The Arts and Design graduate from the University of Nairobi has had a fair share of obstacles during her short stint including negative feedback from naysayers and lack of mentorship. When she was starting, some of the negative feedback she would get was that the flavoured popcorn isn’t viable as an adult snack but only as children’s snack.
“I like encouraging myself each time and being so hopeful despite the negativity. I dream of this every single day and the passion is driving me crazy in the best way.”
Within two months, the company has been able to generate revenues amounting to Kshs 25,000 with repeat clients swarming and she believes that the quality, rich flavoured taste of her popcorns and the creative packaging she uses not only sets her apart but it is also what drives back customers to her shed.
The young entrepreneur also mentions that her greatest achievement after starting this business has been learning how to manage her finances, networking with people from diverse backgrounds which have given the business an exposure.
“My advice to other young entrepreneurs is let the passion drive you, and always know there will be better people than you, learn from them.”