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Creating a Sicilian food franchise [HELP NEEDED]

Umbired

Contributor
May 27, 2019
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Dear Unscripted Entrepreneurs,

Umberto here. Days ago I posted about my soap business idea. For those who followed the post, I had to give this idea up since there are too much complications/costs : I know the more Entry is difficult, the more the business will worth it, but in this case costs are high (approving each recipe for each products require a serious investment), and regulations are strict and touchy for a private like me. All that without knowing if a 9/10€ product will seduce my audience. And I cannot test the market with my product at first without being in good standing because the risk would be high.

That being said, let's turn the page and write another one.

2 days ago, my mum was cooking Arancini, a Sicilian speciality made up of rice ball with tomato sauce and meat in it but there are a lot of variations of this recipe (you can Google it to get a better view of what it is). She cooks them so well that an idea came into my mind. Why not starting selling these rice balls ? People love Italian food (at least here in Belgium but I assume also worldwide) and Italian specialities here are not always made with original recipe/ingredients. So, cooking the real Arancini with genuine ingredients and traditional recipe would be the game changer in this field. The thing that would differentiate our business from all the wannabe Sicilian Arancini out there.

I talked about this to my parents (who both have a job) and they are okay at starting testing the market aside their job. I have already called Belgian food authorities in order to know how to start this business in order to meet all the regulations.

- My vision of the business :

1st step : posting pics of our tasty Arancini on Facebook local groups with good copywriting and phone number so that we can see how many orders we would get and sharing pics on social media on a daily basis.

2nd step : investing in a truck hitting markets and/or events.

3rd step : opening a first store in the area we sold our Arancinis.

4rd step : investing the profit of the first store to open a second one and so on, in order to create a national/international franchise in the future.

- Questioning :

Although this business will be focused on branding (good pictures, nice presentation of the food, Sicilian hand-made product) and real value provided (fresh ingredients straight from Sicily), I ask myself if selling only Arancini is a profitable business. We cannot charge more than 3€/piece (medium price here). We could but I do not know if customers are ready to spend more, even though it is a genuine food that they will not experience from our competitors. Maybe I am wrong. What do you think ?

My father told me we have to get LOW price and HIGH production. I am not convinced lowing price would be profitable because a low price product is often synonym of bad/medium product, and not a high-end one as I want to. Any tips ?

To you, opening a one-product food store (aside selling drinks) is a viable business, although our Arancini will be declined in various tastes ? For exemple in Italy there are a lot of take away pizzeria that only sell sliced pizzas. So maybe my idea does make sense ?

Please tell me your thoughts about my project. I am very enthusiastic about this and want some help/advices/tips/experiences from Unscripted Entrepreneurs you are :)

Grazie mille !

Umberto
 

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Xeon

All Cars Kneel Before Pagani.
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I feel hungry looking at google images of Arancini. Would be good if there's a variety of sauces to go with!

- My vision of the business :

1st step : posting pics of our tasty Arancini on Facebook local groups with good copywriting and phone number so that we can see how many orders we would get and sharing pics on social media on a daily basis.

2nd step : investing in a truck hitting markets and/or events.

3rd step : opening a first store in the area we sold our Arancinis.

4rd step : investing the profit of the first store to open a second one and so on, in order to create a national/international franchise in the future.
Sounds good and feasible.

Although this business will be focused on branding (good pictures, nice presentation of the food, Sicilian hand-made product) and real value provided (fresh ingredients straight from Sicily), I ask myself if selling only Arancini is a profitable business. We cannot charge more than 3€/piece (medium price here). We could but I do not know if customers are ready to spend more, even though it is a genuine food that they will not experience from our competitors. Maybe I am wrong. What do you think ?

My father told me we have to get LOW price and HIGH production. I am not convinced lowing price would be profitable because a low price product is often synonym of bad/medium product, and not a high-end one as I want to. Any tips ?

To you, opening a one-product food store (aside selling drinks) is a viable business, although our Arancini will be declined in various tastes ? For exemple in Italy there are a lot of take away pizzeria that only sell sliced pizzas. So maybe my idea does make sense ?
Seems you're worried about future scaling. In the book Dotcom Secrets, the author talked about building a value ladder, meaning a range of products from free / low cost to high cost.

The idea is to give free products or low cost ones to get leads / customers to get to know you, trust you, then you continue to build relationships with them, and as time goes by and word gets out, you gradually upsell them more and more products, in more and more expensive prices.

Not sure how they sell Arancini. Maybe 3 balls per pack? 5? Or do they sell individual balls?
Anyway, for example, you can probably price the Arancini at 3€ each, and also consider selling them in bundles, like maybe 3 for 7.99€ or something, and give interesting names to each of these balls and bundles.

You could offer different variations of these balls, like maybe spicy prawn, cheese, grilled, whatever, and prefix each of these names with some exotic city / place in Italy.

What your dad said actually makes sense for a start, then, in future, if you want to scale, you can start selling:

1) more expensive, bigger variations of the balls with more food stuff inside
2) more exotic flavors of these balls (maybe cold arancini)
3) come up and sell your own homemade secret recipe bottles of Italian sauces to go with these balls and other food
4) come up with your own prepackaged condiments (or private label them)
5) once you've gotten 1 - 4 down, you can go bigger, such as :

6) find out what are the interests of the majority of these customers who buy your food, and sell them products related to their interests that is also related to your products
7) accessories related to food
8) prepacked, ready-to-go (frozen?) Italian food for the lazy and the busy
9) ....and more.....

All of these.....under your own brand. Countless variations, combinations.
Maybe call it Mamma Sofia's. Or Dama Greta's. Italien Tales.
Sara's Secret Kitchen. Beyond The Gates. DotingFamily. Grandma Laura. For Elisa. Caterina's. Amore Forever.

Sell to these customers the idea that buying and eating your food (arancini) takes them to those childhood, delightful days in spring / autumn where mamma is preparing lunch, while the kids are changing into their clothes, and dad is preparing the car, because the whole family will be going for a picnic in beautiful Tuscany, with those delicious arancini balls, chicken piccata and italian red wine, bottles of sauces.....



It's a beautiful life, with your food, your brand......
 

alord

Contributor
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Jun 8, 2019
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Hey Umberto, again Angelo from Sicily. I think the idea it's great, but if your selling arancini outside of Italy definitely go for a premium price 'cause it's considered as something "exotic" and people are willing to take just to get something different. Something between 2-3 euro will be fine. Consider in Milan there is a chain called Vucciria that sells relatively small ones for 3 euro... If I remember well, you're from Belgium where the cost of living is medium-high compared to Italy, so I would say 2.5-3 would be fine
 

dkostadinov01

Contributor
May 31, 2019
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This is a nice little plan however I don't see a vision. It would be better for an example If you didn't open the standard shop and started selling exactly like the standard people. You could go for opening multiple stands(which are movable,less expensive and you can design them however you want) and target a specific target group at a popular places.

There's a difference between something Marco talks about(not always following your passion is a good idea) and putting love into everything you do.
 
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Umbired

Contributor
May 27, 2019
41
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42
I feel hungry looking at google images of Arancini. Would be good if there's a variety of sauces to go with!



Sounds good and feasible.



Seems you're worried about future scaling. In the book Dotcom Secrets, the author talked about building a value ladder, meaning a range of products from free / low cost to high cost.

The idea is to give free products or low cost ones to get leads / customers to get to know you, trust you, then you continue to build relationships with them, and as time goes by and word gets out, you gradually upsell them more and more products, in more and more expensive prices.

Not sure how they sell Arancini. Maybe 3 balls per pack? 5? Or do they sell individual balls?
Anyway, for example, you can probably price the Arancini at 3€ each, and also consider selling them in bundles, like maybe 3 for 7.99€ or something, and give interesting names to each of these balls and bundles.

You could offer different variations of these balls, like maybe spicy prawn, cheese, grilled, whatever, and prefix each of these names with some exotic city / place in Italy.

What your dad said actually makes sense for a start, then, in future, if you want to scale, you can start selling:

1) more expensive, bigger variations of the balls with more food stuff inside
2) more exotic flavors of these balls (maybe cold arancini)
3) come up and sell your own homemade secret recipe bottles of Italian sauces to go with these balls and other food
4) come up with your own prepackaged condiments (or private label them)
5) once you've gotten 1 - 4 down, you can go bigger, such as :

6) find out what are the interests of the majority of these customers who buy your food, and sell them products related to their interests that is also related to your products
7) accessories related to food
8) prepacked, ready-to-go (frozen?) Italian food for the lazy and the busy
9) ....and more.....

All of these.....under your own brand. Countless variations, combinations.
Maybe call it Mamma Sofia's. Or Dama Greta's. Italien Tales.
Sara's Secret Kitchen. Beyond The Gates. DotingFamily. Grandma Laura. For Elisa. Caterina's. Amore Forever.

Sell to these customers the idea that buying and eating your food (arancini) takes them to those childhood, delightful days in spring / autumn where mamma is preparing lunch, while the kids are changing into their clothes, and dad is preparing the car, because the whole family will be going for a picnic in beautiful Tuscany, with those delicious arancini balls, chicken piccata and italian red wine, bottles of sauces.....



It's a beautiful life, with your food, your brand......
Thanks for answering Xeon :)

Indeed what I'm worried the most about is scaling.
A customer can come and buy just one Arancino. Great idea to sell them in bundle, anyway I do not think to sell them by pack (as if you were in a store where you buy and you cook at home : in my case, people come and eat on the spot or bring them home already warm to eat directly without cooking, do you know what I mean) :)

Exactly, I already thought about exotic names to give to the different variants.

Wow, thank you so much for the great value you provided, I'm keeping all this precious info to go ahead in my project :)
 
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Umbired

Contributor
May 27, 2019
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Hey Umberto, again Angelo from Sicily. I think the idea it's great, but if your selling arancini outside of Italy definitely go for a premium price 'cause it's considered as something "exotic" and people are willing to take just to get something different. Something between 2-3 euro will be fine. Consider in Milan there is a chain called Vucciria that sells relatively small ones for 3 euro... If I remember well, you're from Belgium where the cost of living is medium-high compared to Italy, so I would say 2.5-3 would be fine
Ciao Angelo :) Thank you for your feedback !
Indeed I think 3€ is definitely a good price in order to give a good real/perceived value to the customer. Less would mean a low-valued product in the eyes of the customer I assume.
 
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Umbired

Contributor
May 27, 2019
41
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42
This is a nice little plan however I don't see a vision. It would be better for an example If you didn't open the standard shop and started selling exactly like the standard people. You could go for opening multiple stands(which are movable,less expensive and you can design them however you want) and target a specific target group at a popular places.

There's a difference between something Marco talks about(not always following your passion is a good idea) and putting love into everything you do.
Hi dkostadinov01 :)
Thanks for the tips. I'm not following my passion (cooking rice balls is not my ultimate dream), but I see there a need for this kind of Italian food so I will be putting all my efforts to fill this need.
 

Kara

New Contributor
Dec 14, 2018
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Hello guy93777 and thank you for the vid :)
Indeed I always think long term.
Ciao Umberto

I am also in Sicily :) I think its a food trend next to take hold ...you know how good the Sicilian street food scene is I am sure and only 1 euro down here. But I travel for business and in Alicante centro there is a Sicilian food stand selling them for 4 euro each and he has been there 18 years so something to think about.

I am biased but I think our Sicilian food is fantastic but also largely undiscovered in favour of the more touristic blurb of Napoletana pizza and pasta con carbonara etc

Arancini are the best snack, hit the spot so well. Really wish you luck with this.
 

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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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Ciao Umberto

I am also in Sicily :) I think its a food trend next to take hold ...you know how good the Sicilian street food scene is I am sure and only 1 euro down here. But I travel for business and in Alicante centro there is a Sicilian food stand selling them for 4 euro each and he has been there 18 years so something to think about.

I am biased but I think our Sicilian food is fantastic but also largely undiscovered in favour of the more touristic blurb of Napoletana pizza and pasta con carbonara etc

Arancini are the best snack, hit the spot so well. Really wish you luck with this.
Ciao Kara :)
Another Sicilian here, wow :)
Indeed I saw the prices in Sicily and the average Arancino is 1,5€. 4€ is really high, but as you said, if this stand has been there for years it means this system works well for them.
Totally agree with you. Although Arancini are present in some general food store, they are not under the spotlight as pizza for example.
 

alord

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Jun 8, 2019
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Hi dkostadinov01 :)
Thanks for the tips. I'm not following my passion (cooking rice balls is not my ultimate dream), but I see there a need for this kind of Italian food so I will be putting all my efforts to fill this need.
Btw, when I was in Krakow there was an entire shop selling just sicilian brands. Don't know if it was successful, but certainly they have an appeal
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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alord

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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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Update :

Hi guys, still thinking about the business model I could adopt for my Arancini business.
I was wondering if I could supply directly food businesses with my Arancini, such as supermarkets, restaurants,...

I mean, something like B2B and not B2C. Or maybe both is feasible too ? Selling them to customers via my fast food chain and providing them to supermarkets/restaurants too.

To MJ, B2B is the most profitable business (it would be my case since I should sell a lot of Arancini in order to get nice profits, and it would be achieved more easily via B2B).

What are your thoughts guys ?
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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Hi guys !

I was re-reading Unscripted, more precisely the "Skew value" part. Regarding my Arancini business, I am considering to use natural breadcrumbs (I can do it by myself grinding crust of bread) and not just buying industrial breadcrumbs you can find anywhere. It would be our own breadcrumbs.

Do you see this like a good selling point, a good value skew ?
 

Xeon

All Cars Kneel Before Pagani.
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Hi guys !

I was re-reading Unscripted, more precisely the "Skew value" part. Regarding my Arancini business, I am considering to use natural breadcrumbs (I can do it by myself grinding crust of bread) and not just buying industrial breadcrumbs you can find anywhere. It would be our own breadcrumbs.

Do you see this like a good selling point, a good value skew ?
Why not? You can say your breadcrumbs are organic and natural and not loaded with all kinds of weird chemicals produced in industrial machines (industrial machinery brings up memories of chemicals, pollution, oil, dirty and all that gross stuff).

Of course, that is just one value skew, you can probably think of more.
 

GeoffP

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Dear Unscripted Entrepreneurs,

Umberto here. Days ago I posted about my soap business idea. For those who followed the post, I had to give this idea up since there are too much complications/costs : I know the more Entry is difficult, the more the business will worth it, but in this case costs are high (approving each recipe for each products require a serious investment), and regulations are strict and touchy for a private like me. All that without knowing if a 9/10€ product will seduce my audience. And I cannot test the market with my product at first without being in good standing because the risk would be high.

That being said, let's turn the page and write another one.

2 days ago, my mum was cooking Arancini, a Sicilian speciality made up of rice ball with tomato sauce and meat in it but there are a lot of variations of this recipe (you can Google it to get a better view of what it is). She cooks them so well that an idea came into my mind. Why not starting selling these rice balls ? People love Italian food (at least here in Belgium but I assume also worldwide) and Italian specialities here are not always made with original recipe/ingredients. So, cooking the real Arancini with genuine ingredients and traditional recipe would be the game changer in this field. The thing that would differentiate our business from all the wannabe Sicilian Arancini out there.

I talked about this to my parents (who both have a job) and they are okay at starting testing the market aside their job. I have already called Belgian food authorities in order to know how to start this business in order to meet all the regulations.

- My vision of the business :

1st step : posting pics of our tasty Arancini on Facebook local groups with good copywriting and phone number so that we can see how many orders we would get and sharing pics on social media on a daily basis.

2nd step : investing in a truck hitting markets and/or events.

3rd step : opening a first store in the area we sold our Arancinis.

4rd step : investing the profit of the first store to open a second one and so on, in order to create a national/international franchise in the future.

- Questioning :

Although this business will be focused on branding (good pictures, nice presentation of the food, Sicilian hand-made product) and real value provided (fresh ingredients straight from Sicily), I ask myself if selling only Arancini is a profitable business. We cannot charge more than 3€/piece (medium price here). We could but I do not know if customers are ready to spend more, even though it is a genuine food that they will not experience from our competitors. Maybe I am wrong. What do you think ?

My father told me we have to get LOW price and HIGH production. I am not convinced lowing price would be profitable because a low price product is often synonym of bad/medium product, and not a high-end one as I want to. Any tips ?

To you, opening a one-product food store (aside selling drinks) is a viable business, although our Arancini will be declined in various tastes ? For exemple in Italy there are a lot of take away pizzeria that only sell sliced pizzas. So maybe my idea does make sense ?

Please tell me your thoughts about my project. I am very enthusiastic about this and want some help/advices/tips/experiences from Unscripted Entrepreneurs you are :)

Grazie mille !

Umberto
I think you're on to something here if you have verified there is nothing similar like this. Here's the three questions I would recommend you be able to answer before launching:

1) Is there sufficient demand for these in the locality? If not, what's it going to cost to educate the community about the quality and value of the product?
2) What is your cost per each to create these things from both a material and total cost standpoint? It does no good to set an arbitrary price number if you don't know whether you are making money.
3) Is your proposed strategy the most profitable way to execute this or might it be better to provide Arancini to local restaurants and have them serve them (especially if there is not currently sufficient demand).
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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Why not? You can say your breadcrumbs are organic and natural and not loaded with all kinds of weird chemicals produced in industrial machines (industrial machinery brings up memories of chemicals, pollution, oil, dirty and all that gross stuff).

Of course, that is just one value skew, you can probably think of more.
Hi Xeon !
Again, you are a great source of inspiration. It came on my mind that another value skew could be the tomato sauce coming directly from a Sicilian supplier and not from the supermarket next door. I guess that was your point when you said there are more value skew, right ? :)
 

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Xeon

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Hi Xeon !
Again, you are a great source of inspiration. It came on my mind that another value skew could be the tomato sauce coming directly from a Sicilian supplier and not from the supermarket next door. I guess that was your point when you said there are more value skew, right ? :)
Yup, there's really no hard and fast rules on value skew :D
You could go through that sample list in MJ's book and try to skew as many as you can lol
 
OP
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Umbired

Contributor
May 27, 2019
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I think you're on to something here if you have verified there is nothing similar like this. Here's the three questions I would recommend you be able to answer before launching:

1) Is there sufficient demand for these in the locality? If not, what's it going to cost to educate the community about the quality and value of the product?
2) What is your cost per each to create these things from both a material and total cost standpoint? It does no good to set an arbitrary price number if you don't know whether you are making money.
3) Is your proposed strategy the most profitable way to execute this or might it be better to provide Arancini to local restaurants and have them serve them (especially if there is not currently sufficient demand).
Hi GeoffP and thank you for the feedback,
1) There are a lot of Italians in my locality and non Italian residents love Italian food : pizzerias are always full. Arancini is not a common meal like pizzas or pastas, but some stores sell them, although they're industrial and really different from real Arancini that you can taste in Sicily.
2) One Arancino would cost me 0,50€ max. and the selling price would be 3€. I do not know other costs linked to (such as electricity for the oven,...) but this must to be established once the monthly bill arrive since I never did an extensive use of the oven to cook Arancini every day, just for personal use.
3) I currently do not know if my strategy mentioned above will be the most profitable, but in order to test the market I am firstly cooking them at home and propose my Arancini as a caterer/takeaway. But yes, I guess the most profitable way would be to sell them to local restaurants. Although in the long term I do not know if it would be the best strategy : if one or more restaurants close or they just do not want to get my food anymore for any reason, my business would collapse. This way I would be restaurant-dependent and that violate the commandment of Control. What do you think about that ?
 

GeoffP

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Hi GeoffP and thank you for the feedback,
1) There are a lot of Italians in my locality and non Italian residents love Italian food : pizzerias are always full. Arancini is not a common meal like pizzas or pastas, but some stores sell them, although they're industrial and really different from real Arancini that you can taste in Sicily.
2) One Arancino would cost me 0,50€ max. and the selling price would be 3€. I do not know other costs linked to (such as electricity for the oven,...) but this must to be established once the monthly bill arrive since I never did an extensive use of the oven to cook Arancini every day, just for personal use.
3) I currently do not know if my strategy mentioned above will be the most profitable, but in order to test the market I am firstly cooking them at home and propose my Arancini as a caterer/takeaway. But yes, I guess the most profitable way would be to sell them to local restaurants. Although in the long term I do not know if it would be the best strategy : if one or more restaurants close or they just do not want to get my food anymore for any reason, my business would collapse. This way I would be restaurant-dependent and that violate the commandment of Control. What do you think about that ?
1) Is the non Italian population sufficiently aware to know and buy this? Especially if the only product on the market is crap.
2) Is that just ingredient cost?
3) It only violates control if you limit the number of restaurants.I bring this up because this is how Chinese dumplings are often handled here in the US. You'll take a haircut on price but you won't have to screw around with marketing to the general public or drumming up business. Nothing stops you from pursuing both avenues but this may kick start you.
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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Yup, there's really no hard and fast rules on value skew :D
You could go through that sample list in MJ's book and try to skew as many as you can lol
Could you please remind me what chapter do I find this list in ? Because I cannot find it :/
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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1) Is the non Italian population sufficiently aware to know and buy this? Especially if the only product on the market is crap.
2) Is that just ingredient cost?
3) It only violates control if you limit the number of restaurants.I bring this up because this is how Chinese dumplings are often handled here in the US. You'll take a haircut on price but you won't have to screw around with marketing to the general public or drumming up business. Nothing stops you from pursuing both avenues but this may kick start you.
1) A lot of people (especially non Italian) know this food just because they know "a friend of a friend" can cook them on demand and do extra money cooking Arancini. This food is known but no one started an Arancini business yet.

2) Yes, just ingredient cost. I cannot calculate other costs because I am now focusing on how selling them from home and then opening a store. Producing and selling Arancini from home will maintain low costs. But compared to people who do this just to get some extra money for their friends and neighborhood, I will do this like a business : I will use social media, some paid advertising on facebook, create a website.

3) Yes indeed, combining both would be even better. But what I would like firstly is to create my brand and sell Arancini on my own, that's the basis. Then I will contact snacks/restaurants and propose them, but I fear that they could "steal" my idea and do them by themselves. What's your thought about ?
 

GeoffP

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3) Yes indeed, combining both would be even better. But what I would like firstly is to create my brand and sell Arancini on my own, that's the basis. Then I will contact snacks/restaurants and propose them, but I fear that they could "steal" my idea and do them by themselves. What's your thought about ?
They could in theory do that but how easy is the product to create in house well? The value point is that they don't have to create the product and can just cook it and sell it.

Bear in mind that nothing is stopping them from doing that right now or once you get popular.
 
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Umbired

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May 27, 2019
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They could in theory do that but how easy is the product to create in house well? The value point is that they don't have to create the product and can just cook it and sell it.

Bear in mind that nothing is stopping them from doing that right now or once you get popular.
When you know how to do it, you get used to. It's like cooking pizzas : it is hard for someone that never did one, but once you learn, have the right ingredients, it is easy.
Of course, it costs time. And as you say, they would rather pay for a supplier like me (as long as I propose a great product with an affordable price) than spend time to cook Arancini.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Could you please remind me what chapter do I find this list in ? Because I cannot find it :/
It's an entire chapter. . .

:wideyed:

Chapter 35
 

GeoffP

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When you know how to do it, you get used to. It's like cooking pizzas : it is hard for someone that never did one, but once you learn, have the right ingredients, it is easy.
Of course, it costs time. And as you say, they would rather pay for a supplier like me (as long as I propose a great product with an affordable price) than spend time to cook Arancini.
Bingo. It sounds like Chinese dumplings here in the states. Unless you're a dumpling house, you're buying it from a third party.

The benefit of B2B here is that it would provide you with sales and capital to fund your commercial kitchen, which I doubt is cheap if Belgium is anything like the States. Why sell 1 when you can sell 100?

Now that we're on the subject, are there any other Sicilian delights that aren't executed well in Belgium? Why stop with Arancini when you can bring other products to market? Especially if you're going to go to the expense of kitting out a truck.
 

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