In this episode, M’OISHÎ founder and CEO, Carole Moawad, tells us how she was able to grow her business idea into a multi-store business in just three years. After discovering mochi, a delicious, Japanese handcrafted dessert, Carole realized how this well-loved product is available in other parts of the world, but had not been introduced and popularized yet in Dubai. With that opportunity, she decided to launch this product line locally, giving it a new twist, building a solid branding around it and was able to develop and branch out to at least 16 shops in UAE, slowly making waves in the online markets as well.
As Carole discusses the challenges in starting a business from scratch, she also talks about strategy, growth mindset and how they were able to launch a brand new product line right through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connect with Carole:
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/carole-moawad-00107660/
- Carole’s company website – www.moishi.com
Connect with Dhiren:
Dhiren Bhatia 0:41
Hey, everyone, I’m really excited to introduce our very first guest, Carol Moawad are on the elevated entrepreneur podcast. Carol is the founder of mushy and also an amazing client that I’ve had the privilege of working together with for the last three years. Now if you live in Dubai You’ve already heard of mushy, they handcraft delicious Japanese desserts called mo cheese that are just out of this world. And my personal favorite dessert. I’m really excited to have Carol, tell us her story and how she’s grown her idea into a multi store business in just three years. We talked about strategy, growth mindset, and how they’ve launched a brand new product line, right through the pandemic. It’s an amazing story that you don’t want to miss. And there’s so much for you to listen into. So stay tuned and let’s jump right in.
Hi Carole, Welcome to the elevator. entrepreneur podcast. It’s so nice to have you.
Carole Moawad 2:03
Thank you. Thank you for having me. Thank you for the invite.
Dhiren Bhatia 2:08
As I mentioned to you, before we started recording, I think you have a wonderful story that I’d like to share with our audience. And I’d like to get started by having you tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us your background. I know you had some jobs before you started machines. I’m sure it’d be really interesting story to hear.
Carole Moawad 2:24
Yeah, I really hope that this story now I will tell everyone will be helpful for all the entrepreneurs out there, either inspired or they started their journey. I really hope that it will help in any way. So just a quick idea about the educational background. I studied chemistry and I have two masters degrees one and industrial technology and the second one in Healthcare Management and BA in Healthcare Management. So basically, my studies not have nothing to do with my career now nowadays and the business that I decided to open but it all starts When I came to Dubai working for PwC, as a healthcare consultant, I discovered that I’m not treated a corporate person I thought I am. And during a vacation in Lebanon, actually, I tasted the mochi ice cream for the first time. And I discovered this amazing Japanese desert that I fell in love with. But it was filled with the cream, not ice cream. And it was completely different than what we have now here. I did some research about the product and I discovered that it’s trendy and as the Japanese desert and the US and Europe but no one is doing it at least since I live in Dubai, I decided to do it in Dubai. And basically I started from scratch I started to acquire a whole set of skills. I was so passionate about the idea I knew that it’s going to work I imagined the shop I imagined how it will look like I imagined that basically like luxury for macaroons; but instead of the macaroons, Mochi ice cream. This was my first image that I had of my shop. And I started to get in contact with the startups, for example, to come up with the brand name to design, the brand, the logo, the kiosk, etc. I got a friend and my brother as investors, and basically we took it from there.
Dhiren Bhatia 4:23
That’s amazing. I know how many locations you have, but how many locations Do you have today?
Carole Moawad 4:28
So now we have 16 shops in UAE by shops they either mean cafe, cafe like standalone shop, or kiosks. Kiosks can be with a seating area or without sitting area where we sell the matcha ice cream other Japanese confectionery and drinks, and we have a franchisee in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and in Kuwait. We have three shops and in Kuwait they only have now home delivery. I mean before COVID-19 cries. They didn’t have shops yet, but it’s coming after the COVID-19.
Dhiren Bhatia 5:07
Amazing. I want to go back to something you said in your introduction, you had a vision of how the stores would look, you already had pictured all of that. How did that come to you? Where was that idea with? Did you see it somewhere? Or was it just something that you had imagined?
Carole Moawad 5:23
I think it’s something that I had imagined. I didn’t see it somewhere. But I think it’s the result of a lot of readings and observations and research that it was a journey to find what I want to do and what the brand will look like. Even before I had the idea of much ice cream, I think every time we read an article about a restaurant or about the product or about a business, and all this information, is there somewhere in our brain that once you have the idea, you gather somehow your brain gathers all this information and put them together to give you a The optimal solution for your idea.
Dhiren Bhatia 6:03
And the other thing you mentioned is that you have two master’s degree, which is amazing in itself. Do you feel that those degrees have played some role in your success?
Carole Moawad 6:14
The first one, which is the industrial technology, it definitely played a huge role. Now, when I build our factory, for example, if the contractor is talking to you about something that has to do with quality control, the flow of production, where you should put control points, etc, you know about it, you study it, you’ve done it before, which was one of the skills that I didn’t have to acquire recently with the business at least I had this from my studies, which was amazing. The second degree, it’s a business management degree, right? So anything that has to do with data collection, to how to read data and how to assess and how to analyze and how to even project management, so any kind of money From any project to what reports Do you need to assess your performance and to assess the financial situation of your company? So anything in between? I somehow so it during my master’s and studies and now I live it every day.
Dhiren Bhatia 7:18
That’s amazing. Like I said, it’s a feat in itself to have two masters degree. That’s amazing.
Carole Moawad 7:24
I was committed.
Dhiren Bhatia 7:27
I think so. And since you brought up commitment, do you feel that commitment is something that is a given when you start a restaurant business when you start a food business like yours,
Carole Moawad 7:39
think when you start anything, I see the business as an example of any relationship of when you start a relationship in your life even with a lover or a friend or any kind of relationship. Either you are committed to this relationship that grows and develop and improve and sometimes there’s ups and downs but if you’re not committed and you’re Heart is not there, it will not happen. So, business is the same as any relationship or anything we do in life, work out everything, it needs commitment. Now some people see it commitment. Some people see discipline, some people see it passion. I think you need the balance of all of this passion and on doesn’t work commitments alone without passion. Also, it’s like putting a lot of energy in the wrong place. So I think you need a balance of all of this.
Dhiren Bhatia 8:31
And we’re talking about balancing commitment and discipline when you started voici. It was just you when you started. How did that look like? How was that time period for you?
Carole Moawad 8:41
Sometimes it looks lonely. But the one thing that I did, I think now, I’m so happy looking back. I’m so happy that I did it. And I took this approach that I was sharing everything I was doing with my friends and my family even though they have nothing to do with their business. And even though a lot of people told me no to Your ideas, they will change, and they will do the same. And I refuse to think of people as mean. And there’s a lot of conspiracy theories, I needed to share because first, any opinion, it was an added value, even a critic or someone to tell you that this is the wrong idea, the fact that they told you why it’s wrong, it can be something that you can work on. So you make sure that it will never go down. So I shared a lot with everyone around me which I created a virtual community of machines without having emotion community. Everyone around me was talking about it. I made them talk about it, because I shared with them everything that I was doing on daily life and daily work.
Dhiren Bhatia 9:47
That’s amazing. And you’re right. You know, a lot of people will tell you, or sign a good idea to share your idea. People will steal it, but you’re right. I think there’s a lot of value in having other people give you opinions whether it’s right whether it’s right It forces you to think that is so true. And when you were starting most you, you said it was you, your brother and a friend who invested. But was it you that was running the day to day operations? Or did you have a team from day one?
Carole Moawad 10:11
I didn’t have a team from day one. So my brother and my friend who are investors, they don’t live here. I definitely took their opinion about a lot of stuff I was, for example, where do you think we should look for a kitchen? how big it should be? Because I don’t know any of this, right? I’m curious about anything that has to do with FMB. Other than the taste and how to eat it. Of course, the one person who was on board from the beginning, it’s our consultant chef, when I decided to do this and I did a very basic feasibility study. I had to find a chef immediately because he was the one to guide me on the ingredient cost, how feasible it is, where we can do with the machine, the manpower needed, etc. But who wasn’t what time of course, you had a full time job and I was only a consultant So I used to meet with him like once or twice a week, and that’s it. And the rest I have to do with myself everything that has to do with the business itself, other than their food development part of the business. I mean, how to deal with the branding company, I had to search for the branding company advertising and to deal with it separately, how to deal with a PR o to find a PR o so you can get all the labor documents ready, etc, etc. So this I had to figure it out myself step by step. Again, a lot of people helped me not help me on board. Like, they helped me with a contact or they helped me with Oh, why don’t you ask that guy? I mean, he knows the company. I know someone who has another business I can put you in contact. So that’s the community that I was talking about.
Dhiren Bhatia 11:48
You started so much, there was so much to do. How did you see all of this out ahead? Is it something that you did day to day? Did you have a strategy in place? What did that look like in your mind?
Carole Moawad 12:01
Honestly, there was no strategy. And there was no clear plan, there was a clear objective. And there was a lot of passion and a lot of commitment, as we said. So even if I don’t have a plan that I will work on a Friday or a weekend or an evening, because I really want to see it happening. And I’m really excited to see how it will look like and how I will make it happen. I wouldn’t work automatically, even without defining toward. And again, I feel like this is something I always give it as an advice for entrepreneurs in the beginning their whole life. It has to be the idea that you want to make it happen. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen. Basically, it sounds like a lot. But when it comes to day to day, it’s not really a lot. It has to be their life. They wake up thinking about it. They keep thinking about it. Everything they read, from books, to articles to discussions, they have to anything It has to be about this idea. Once they live in this bubble, let me say it, it will not burst. But I mean a bubble because you are the only one there basically, let people in and out. But once you are there, you don’t feel like you work. You feel like it’s your life. And you don’t feel tired and don’t feel overwhelmed and you feel like it’s something that you’re so happy doing and you’re pursuing passionately. This is me. I don’t know, maybe it’s not the best way. Maybe I had to have an approach or plan. But I really had no approach other than doing it as fast as they can and make it happen.
Dhiren Bhatia 13:40
You touched upon two very important things. One was not having a plan. I think a lot of business owners think that they have to have this plan or we’re told from day one, you have to have a plan. You have to make sure everything is noted down but sometimes like you said, it’s okay to not have a plan as long as you are consumed by the idea as long as you think about it day in and day out. It’s okay to not have a plan. And that’s a very important thing. Obviously, you have to have it planned out. Not a plan. But you have to have an idea how that idea comes to fruition can change every day. Did you find that that was the case when you started Boise were things changing. And were they going as what you had planned.
Carole Moawad 14:16
They change for example, my business then watch ice cream, today, you decide that you will start not only with the matcha ice cream, you will decide to start as a Japanese coffee. And then when you start to study how much this will cost and how much this will take out of your efforts. And you will not be focused on one product, for example, you think, no, maybe it’s better to keep it as much as him only in the beginning. And this is where you really have to be open minded along the way. Not to be stubborn about one idea to be open minded in both ways to add or remove products or channels or countries etc. So it has to change if it doesn’t change. I think there’s something not very wrong, or you’re doing a business that already exists, and you’re copying something. But if you’re creating something from scratch, it has to change. It’s like a baby growing. You cannot expect a baby to grow. Because you decided that this baby, you want them to be 123. They have to grow away they want.
Dhiren Bhatia 15:23
Absolutely. And the second thing you said was this idea of a bubble, you said, there’s this bubble, where you let people in and out. I want you to delve into that a little more. Because it’s so true. I think a business is just that it’s a bubble that you have people come and go, and I think a lot of people sometimes may not be able to find the right people. But I want to hear your thoughts and how was that when you started mushy?
Carole Moawad 15:44
Yeah, I think there’s two layers of filtering relationship. There’s the professional layer and there’s the personal layer. Because when you are developing your own business, everything becomes personal, not emotion. I mean, everything becomes Very important, even a friend relationship, if it’s toxic, and it consumes a lot of pure time, and it’s not adding any value, you cannot have the luxury of time to keep this relationship it will only consume your energy with nothing in return. So you should be very drastic about these things and just cut it off completely. So this the first layer that on a personal level you become being not cruel at all, is just to act faster. Maybe the relationships that usually die with time for like over three years because you get lazy to get in contact or whatever because it’s not a priority. You have to stop it immediately. If it’s consuming energy from you and you’re not putting it in the right place. This is the people you want to enter your bubble. The positive people the one who really are inspiring you or inspiring you is great important. The professional one of course in the beginning especially that I didn’t know a lot about the field that I decided to start working in. Maybe you will recruit someone who turned out to be not as good as it looked on CV. So from the beginning, I decided to recruit a character, not a CV, because I felt like to not waste a lot of time. If I don’t get along with someone mentally, I cannot imagine them part of the company. Because Personally, I have to work with all of them. It’s not like it’s a company of 1000 people and they can work with another manager and the manager can manage them in a different way. I’m working with these people on a daily basis. So I cannot work with someone who I cannot connect with mentally at any level. So I figured that this is very important. I recruited an actor, and this is when I decided that the personal and the professional relationships they have to be Pay start and layer decoding.
Dhiren Bhatia 18:03
So you’ve now got the chef, you’ve got yourself you’ve got an idea you’ve got a vision. And you’re not talking about hiring team people. So who was the first team member, or the character as you put it, who was the first one that you bought on
Carole Moawad 18:15
this to? To do the actual job that consultant he gave us the recipes he trained the sous chef on how to produce the much ice cream etc. So this was the first one the second one was manager but procurement and driver at the same time and to help us in the kitchen. So these two were the only ones I started the company.
Dhiren Bhatia 18:38
Wow. You know a lot of people would initially think I want to hire a salesperson, I want to make sure we are selling or we are marketing on day one. What made you choose to do this the other way which is be so focused on production first, then go into sales and marketing.
Carole Moawad 18:55
Because I decided to do that sales and marketing myself because I figured that I know the product more than anyone. I mean, there’s no other product similar to it and they’ve market. So no one can sell it better than me. No one is passionate about it yet more than I do. It really played a huge role, connecting with malls and connecting with customers. Even I used to take customers quotes for home delivery. In the beginning, we didn’t have a shop, we only started with home deliveries and events for like three months. And even during those three months, I used to talk with all the customers because I wanted to create this personal relationship with the customers. I want them to see the story behind the product. Otherwise, it’s like any other dessert, which will not make any difference. But I wanted to create this bond. And there was no other way to do it except me doing it. So that’s why I needed only the technical people who have to create the product and to physically take it to the customer.
few times as well.
Dhiren Bhatia 20:04
Of course, as the entrepreneur as the owner, you’re everything. You’re the driver, you’re the customer service, you’re the check collection person. You’re everything for the initial bit. Yeah. And so when did you see you have a team coming? So now you’ve had the sous chef, you’ve had the product being designed. When do you see this team coming together?
Carole Moawad 20:21
When we decided to open the first kiosk, because now we have sales employees, and we have another sous chef, and we have a full time driver, they ingredient to the factory and the product from the factory to the shop, and to do home delivery. So there was a full time driver, full time sous chef and full time safe. So the very short answer is when I started to have people doing full time job of one part of their job.
Dhiren Bhatia 20:48
That’s when you saw the team really coming together. Yeah. And as you’re starting all of this, what technology Do you have running in the back? How did that help you? Where does that come from?
Carole Moawad 21:00
So to be honest, one of the mistakes I regret is that I didn’t have in the beginning when I first started is a good accounting system or a good accountant who can help me track all the costs and invoices and all of this, I spent a lot of time later on to clear this mess. So I really advise everyone to have an accountant on board and a very skilled and competent accountant, you have to deal with this thing. One way or another one day or another, you have to deal with it. So I really given advice to everyone to have a good system on board and their good accountant on board. And of course as a startup, we cannot afford to have our own tailor developed software. So this is when we opened the first shop. The first bit of technology we had to deal with is the POS and obviously we had something else before event but it turned out to be not helpful at all and not user friendly and the POS is different. Physical tablet was huge with the drawers so we move to Vend immediately. And then from there Cloudscape team helped us a lot to shift the from zero tech and mess all around the accounting system and the POS and the link together and home deliveries, orders etc. to a straightforward approach, POS is linked to an accounting system which was Xero, and we still have Xero. And the online orders also link directly to the accounting system. So this was the first mini project that we had to finalize immediately when we started with the shop.
Dhiren Bhatia 22:39
I just want to go back to one quick thing before we go deeper into tech, you mentioned accounting and how important it is to have a good accountant from day one. A lot of business owners that I meet and chat with, they say that accounting is not something that they should do on day one. In fact that can come later. I know you said it is important. Maybe you can tell us why it is important to have one on day one.
Carole Moawad 23:00
It is extremely important because then invoice or the receipt of ten Dirhams or $3. If you don’t capture the same day or the next day or the same week, it’s gone. Either you end up not tracking your costs. So you don’t know your profit margin, you don’t know what you’re really doing. You’re there in the dark, you don’t know really where you’re going from there, which is very bad for any business. And you end up paying a lot as an entrepreneur from your own pocket because you don’t know how to find these things. So, this is the basic This is like the common sense of accounting, but more than this, if for example, I decide to buy a new machine or a new equipment to open a new kiosk, etc. even looking at the contract, you will not think of the security deposit and the cash flow and you will not be able to focus on all of this at the same time and from day one and you’re not an expert Obviously, so you need someone who tells you that current this equipment has a depreciation life of five years. So, even though the balance sheet will look good and the p&l will look good, but from cash flow perspective, you will be in a very bad position so, we cannot get it now we need to wait for a month, etc. So, you need some guidance. As an entrepreneur, you are very excited to get everything from the beginning. And this is first second, you’re doing many things at the same time, there is no way you can keep track of all the expenses and all income in and out. Third, you don’t know what these numbers mean. You don’t know the implication of these numbers on your long term balance sheet and can and so having
Dhiren Bhatia 24:45
that accountant from day one, not only helps you keep track of all this, but it also breaks down the technical terminology. It helps you understand
Carole Moawad 24:53
and you end up saving a lot of time and money and actually this is the misconception about how An accountant from day one is a competent accountant, you can have it as a consultant as an advisor, but ask someone who worked with the accountant, because he might look on CV competent, but actually, he wasn’t very helpful for other clients. So it’s very important to check with other clients if they worked with this accountant. And if they recommend him or not, this is one tool, it saves a lot of money because at the end of the day, you will not do it on a continuous basis as an entrepreneur, even if you can do it. But if I would say at the end of this month, I will clean all my accounting, all my books, it will take you much longer time and it will consume a lot of energy from you.
Dhiren Bhatia 25:44
Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned something there, which is actually do a reference check as you would do with any employee. You know, if you’re getting a referral from someone, it speaks volumes may not always be the case, but at least you’ve done your due diligence, really, really important. So now really starting to see the team come together, you’ve got the product ready, you’ve got the kiosk. Ready, you’ve got your technology ready. Now what? Where did the journey take you from there? What was the next step that you had to do in this,
Carole Moawad 26:12
To imagine your business five years from there!
Dhiren Bhatia 26:15
I love that.
Carole Moawad 26:16
Because you’re done with everything on a daily basis, you imagined how it will look like you somehow did it, how you want it to look like you have your team, you started to develop this set of skills yourself. You know what you’re talking about now, before you used to talk about it, but you didn’t really do it. So now you know what you’re talking about, you know, the devil you’re dealing with. And you have to take it from there on long term, because no one is doing a business so that’s so it shuts down in three years. So I feel like after six to one year maximum time, an entrepreneur should stop, take a break, take a pause and imagine Okay, now what I want my company to be in five years. Do I want it to be only in mall? So I want it to be online business? Do I want both? Do I want to focus on one product I want to bring in more products, etc. Not all the answers will be valid for ever. But he or she has to find a direction has to find an approach they want to take to continue the business. And I think it’s very important to just stop and ask yourself all of these questions. Otherwise, you will be only surviving monthly and daily, you will forget the bigger picture.
Dhiren Bhatia 27:36
You’re right. As entrepreneur and Founder and Managing Director you really really have to see the big picture and what you said that is absolutely so true. Stop, take a breath, come out of the equation and take a look at the bigger picture. That’s so true. One of the other misconceptions I also heard and probably I’ve done this mistake when I started Cloudscape was not taking a salary. Do you recommend restauranteurs taking a salary from day one, or should they wait for the profits to come in so that they can draw a salary?
Carole Moawad 28:06
No, I think they definitely should take a salary for two reasons. The first reason because they don’t want to trick the books. Because eventually there should be someone doing this job, either you or someone else. And it should be part of the monthly payroll. So if you remove it completely on books, I’m not talking about the p&l or the reports. If you remove it completely from the reports, you’re tricking the numbers, ie not true with yourself. Now, if you decide to pay yourself a few months or when the cash flow improves, this is okay. I don’t think it’s a huge mistake. But I think also this is the first part. The second part is that at the end of the day, we are human beings and we need to be motivated. Even though it’s your own business. It removes one layer of pressure and one layer of anxiety if you have a salary coming every month, you have to treat yourself as an employee. And I think the first step, to treat yourself as an employee along the way, with good and bad things. For example, now during the COVID-19, it’s because I treated myself as an employee from the start now and during the COVID-19. When we had to cut a few salaries, I treated myself as an employee and I got my own salad. I’m not different. I’m part of this company. And the way I think entrepreneurs should look at it. Even though it’s your baby, even though you develop it, it’s now a company. It is not your baby anymore. Emotionally, it can be but physically, it’s a copying and it is not yours. It is a standing own entity, and you should treat it and respect it this way. And if you look at it this way, and you convince yourself of this idea, everything else would come natural
Dhiren Bhatia 30:00
Hundred percent, you’re absolutely correct. It should be treated as its own. Like you said earlier, it’s a baby. It’s a baby that needs to grow. It needs food, air, water. And now as the parent, your job is to let this baby grow up. I also want to hear from you. You’ve got now your product ready, you’ve got the first few stores open. How does someone go about looking for customers? How do you do that promotion.
Carole Moawad 30:23
So we created a new we decided to create a need by imposing our shops and malls. So by default, we created an impulse product. And by having a kiosks and Moore’s where you have a minimum number of visitors per day. Now this is the first category of customers we decided to target and second by social media and ads and by reaching out to the database you have on your POS, sending them push notifications, sending them emails, discounts, etc. It’s to retain these customers and second is to create the need of Our product to create this because it can go either ways, either as a very casual only impulse product, or as a lifestyle product. So we created the need of a lifestyle product by creating the gift boxes. So if I’m invited for dinner, I’m thinking, should I take good Jeeva? Or should they take luxuries? Like, I also have my shit as an idea. And it’s something else. And not only chocolate, which existed forever, at least, my friends will feel like a more sophisticated, culturally experienced that they have something new on the table. So we created this mean, because we genuinely believed in this need, by the way, we’re not tricking our customers we had this need as customers ourselves. And we created it through the visuals we were sharing with our customers and this is very, very, very important to characterize the product characterize the brands and to sell it this way.
Dhiren Bhatia 31:57
And do you feel you also did that because you knew the customer. You’ve mentioned a couple times, this is a lifestyle product. You happen to know your customers, you know, the target market, you know the niche that you’re in? Is that something that you knew from day one? Or is it something that you’ve learned over time? Who is your niche,
Carole Moawad 32:15
I had a gut feeling about it, because I took myself as the first customer. So I did a lot of things in the beginning if I am the customer, how would I feel about the package, for example, to make it very practical to make it look good to make it luxury to make it nice, etc, etc. But of course, you cannot take only yourself as a customer because then your customer category is very narrow. But then I got to know more my customers from the shops and this is the power of having a physical shop and the more you get to communicate with them. I used to spend hours in the shops setting even to work as a sales employee even though there are the states and produce there. But I wanted to create this bond with customers, as I said, from the beginning with Kohl’s for home delivery. And even when we open the shop, I used to spend hours there. Now if there’s anyone listening to this podcast and they don’t have this channel or this opportunity to see the customer and to communicate with them. Now there’s all sorts of technology to communicate with customers. And I think either you see them and you talk to them or you collect data about them. And it’s something new nowadays to collect data about how they live their purchase power they have the amount of money they spend per day on food or on lifestyle products, etc. So you have to know your customer either way, and the best way is all of this combined in any way you can reach out to the customer, you have to
Dhiren Bhatia 33:48
do it. The other thing you mentioned in there you said you were retargeting them you were remarketing and giving them offers and SMS is a lot of other restaurant owners. I know focus on new customers, they want new customers to walk through the door. How important was it in your journey to bring back existing customers for more issue,
Carole Moawad 34:08
it is extremely important because first, it validates how good your product is. It’s not a one time trial. And that’s it. It’s something that they could hooked to the love they crave. And the more you are loyal to a brand as a customer and the more you are engaged with the brand, the more you will talk about it to your environment, your friends, your family, and you will get more people on board. This marketing channel is very powerful. It’s extremely powerful and you have to work on
Dhiren Bhatia 34:40
it. And that particular channel which is word of mouth, that is your existing customer sharing the word for you. That is so true Word of mouth it is and always will be the best marketing strategy. Apart from this, whether any other strategies you put in place, as you’re now scaling Moshi up, what are some of the important strategies that entrepreneurs should keep in mind when they’re The scaling phase.
Carole Moawad 35:01
So first, they need to keep the momentum going, no one wants their business to be just above that will go over time. So the approach is always to find something or a message or a product or a branding material that keeps the customer interested and keeps the brand going. This is extremely important. So this is its strategy that we have to look over this and after this all the time. The second one is, you also don’t want to be always a trendsetter and to be very far from everyone else. So you have to find the balance of both. And the third one, and this is something that now we had to accelerate and to do it very quickly with the COVID-19. Maybe we can elaborate more later. But now with the COVID-19 crisis, we discovered that the online presence is extremely important, and it’s here to stay. It’s not going anytime soon, and it’s true. not slowing down anytime soon. So we decided also to add to our strategy, a big and impactful and significant online presence, and to have everything that we have in store to have it available on our online store. This is a new strategy that we committed to.
Dhiren Bhatia 36:19
And before I go into COVID, because I think that’s gonna be a big part of this discussion. How long ago did you start thinking about online? You said rightly that it is important now. But how long ago did you start thinking about it?
Carole Moawad 36:32
I started from the beginning, because I started with home delivery before even opening the shop, but it was never my main focus. I was focused on expanding to different shops and different locations and getting franchisees etc. I it was never my focus to have the ultimate application or have all the products online or to optimize the cost of delivery instead of optimizing the cost of shops, etc. So it wasn’t our main focus, we treated it as one of the channels, we focus more on the shops, the channels, we didn’t focus on the retail channel, we didn’t focus as much on the online channel,
Dhiren Bhatia 37:15
in terms of COVID, online is become a big part of your business. But what is COVID done to your business? And how are you planning to come out of this? What is the strategy now for Moishi?
Carole Moawad 37:26
So honestly, in the beginning, when this whole thing started, let’s say February, when we hit the reality that it’s coming home, it’s not only in China, we started thinking, Okay, how we will survive the first two months, maybe until May may be okay, this whole thing will end in May. But later in March, it became very clear that it’s not a hurricane. It’s a season and we have to accept it. The minute we accepted this fact, this reality, it was very difficult to accept it and our mindsets, but we have to otherwise we’re not dealing with the right change. So, mid March, approximately, we decided and we acknowledge that this is the new reality. This is the new word, it will last for a few months and nothing will be the same after that, from there a whole different set of actions we took from there. The first one is that, okay, we decided to work from home entirely from mid March, even before the government imposed a lockdown. We started to do it, luckily, and to just go back to tech, all our employees and this was an internal decision to not recruit anyone who’s not digitally enabled to not access the iCloud folders or Google folder. So it’s very difficult to deal with someone who you need to teach everything from scratch when it comes to technology. So this is very good that we already had few people who are experts and few who are fairly digitally enabled. So quickly, we move to working from home setup It was honestly and not a bad transition. It was very smooth transition, I would say. We decided to do weekly calls. We formed like an alarm committee, and it’s basically the management team with a few key elements. And we started with two quarts per day. Now we have one call per day. We decided from the beginning that we would close on the shop to cut on cost even before the more close and to start immediately work on our online presence and on the product. We launched a new sub brand basically in one week. We didn’t launch it yet but we created the brand in one week. Which is a commercial brand that goes better with the situation we’re living in. It’s a it’s a brand that is cheaper than the brand we used to have invoice the same product but in a very commercial packages is not as high end and as luxury as The ones we used to have and more, as you can see now, or that actually brands, the fashion brands, they are heads up really, really, really bad. So we don’t want to just wait on this whole crisis. And so we go back to business, we cannot afford it. And we don’t want to just stop the factory and all the employees until everything is back. So we decided to immediately come up with this product to be present on all the online groceries, online applications, etc. So I think in terms of strategy, and in terms of the approach that we are talking about, is to be extremely fast to not waste time being emotional about things or to not waste time to be depressed or not waste time on any other than focus on how to treat the problem as a permanent problem for some time from day one. Otherwise, you put a lot of energy just being depressed about it.