It’s one thing to have an idea for a street food catering business, it’s another thing to make it happen brilliantly. StreatSchool has the know-how.

“At StreatSchool, we take all the teething problems out of setting up or expanding a street food or mobile catering business,” says co-founder Seány McCleary.

“In a fast growing €2bn a year industry in Ireland and the UK, there is little to no consultancy available for start-ups, or existing brands on going mobile. We share our frontline knowledge of the industry and connections (through Blasta Street Kitchen), but furthermore, we manufacture and design bespoke ‘Mobile Pods’ which are the perfect branding tool.

“We saw a huge surge of start-up street food vendors coming to us for consultancy and food trucks”

“As a result of Covid-19, business has really boomed, both for Blasta Street Kitchen and for StreatSchool. On one hand, all our Blasta Food Truck events had been cancelled (about €40,000 worth), but our Blasta ‘Taco Truck Range’ in retail was selling well both in-stores and for home/online deliveries.

“Then at StreatSchool, we saw a huge surge of start-up street food vendors coming to us for consultancy and food trucks. Also, food products that could no longer do in-store tastings, were coming to us for mobile pods, branded, to use as tasting kiosks outside stores. Now with the latest restrictions , we have been inundated with calls from ‘wet pubs’ to put in food truck concepts for them.”

Food from thoughts

McCleary explained at that generally client will approach StreatSchool with an idea or food concept.

“We work with them on creating a brand. Costing and planning an effective menu, strategise and plan their trading day/hours, marketing strategy etc. Ninety percent of the time they will then purchase one of our pods. My co-founder Nikita McRory will then work with the client remotely on the design and branding of their unit.

“Other services include supply chain setup, menu creation, staff training etc, essentially everything you need to ‘get your eats to the streets.’”

The bigger picture

Seány and his partner Nikita founded Blasta Street Kitchen when they moved back to Ireland in Early 2017.

“The idea was catering and street food inspired by our five years working and travelling abroad and also heavily inspired by the thriving start-up ecosystems in New York and Melbourne powered by young entrepreneurs.

“The business plan and strategy was decent, but the main thing in our favour was timing. After the first two years of Blasta we had won numerous awards and featured in national media, and start-up street food owners were coming to us for advice on sourcing equipment, food trucks, branding etc. That was our lightbulb moment, time to take a step back from the frontline and look at the bigger picture here.

“Our first impressions upon returning to Ireland were bleak. We approached various enterprise boards with our concept, only to be told there was no market for it here in rural Ireland, that we were overpriced, too niche, etc. There was zero funding available to us as a food business, and we had to take the plunge entirely by ourselves, which we now make much easier for start-ups.

“In Monaghan, luckily enough, there was a busy entrepreneurial scene. Straight away we decided to collaborate and share ideas with others. I then went on to set up the ‘Mon-Trepeneur’ network, a group of 30 strong start-ups, pre start-ups and investors. So overall, in our area at least , there is a great entrepreneurial scene, but still a lot more that could be done to nurture it.”

McCleary said StreatSchool recently completed its first round of funding  through private investment. “Other than potentially Enterprise Ireland, we are not currently planning further private investment etc.”

Planning and forecasting is the key to how StreatSchool keeps its wheels turning. “We have learned to always over estimate the supply chain when it comes to timeline for  manufacturing, shipping, sourcing of parts for food trucks, etc. Also, running out of stock is very frustrating. We are currently manufacturing 22 mobile pods/branded units ,and from January 2021 plan to have stock and a permanent office/showroom here in Monaghan.”

His advice to fellow founders is look after your network. “Your network is your net worth. We are firm believers in this. Keep in contact with as many people and clients as possible, as the day will come when you may be able to help them, and they may be able to help you. We have friends and associates all around the world from our time travelling who we have been able to call upon for favours/market research, sharing ideas etc.

“So , if you think you are doing enough networking, you probably aren’t. On a normal day, I could chat to more than 50 people from start-ups to investors, business owners, staff, people on LinkedIn, engineers, suppliers and more.

“Also, never undervalue yourself or your skills. When we started StreatSchool, we were charging €150 for a half day consultancy one-on-one. We soon realised we were giving away all our ‘recipes for success’ then people would vanish, buy a knocked up trailer, and start themselves.

“We now charge €500 for the half day, with a 50pc refund if you purchase a unit/pay a deposit. This has proven very successful, and also filters out a lot of time wasters.”

The recipe for staying agile is to do as much as possible in-house. “I cover lead generation, sales, marketing and the food side of things, while Nikita works with clients on their branding and strategy as well as dealing with third party local graphics company Coyle Complete.

“We have plans before the end of 2021 to roll out a 4-week (2.5 hours on a Monday evening) Start Your Own Street Food Business course right here at our headquarters in Monaghan. The cost will be €180 for the four weeks, with a few nationwide clients already signed up. In this, we will cover everything from building a brand, menu costing and creation, supply chain, finding fulltime work/pitches etc.”

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 12 October, 2020

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