Thursday, April 18, 2024

Real fruit Sips on the move

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From the time he was in secondary school, Corey McClean knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur.
And today, the 28-year-old is the owner and creative director of the mobile cafe, Sips Smoothie Bar.
Since December 2008, the bar has been supplying Barbadians and tourists with a variety of natural fruit smoothies, milk shakes and what he calls health shakes.
McClean said over the past four years business has been good.
“The business has been growing. We have not had the same year twice so I can’t compare years. Each year we sought to go beyond the previous year so in each year the business has been different.
“The first year it was mainly event based and then we had a stable location. That was throughout 2009. In early 2010, we launched the first mobile unit and then in 2011 we launched the second,” said the former St Michael School student.
It was after studying mechanical engineering at the Barbados Community College (BCC) that McClean decided to go back to school and pursue his dream of becoming a businessman. He studied business management at the University of the West Indies (UWI) at Cave Hill.
“The plan was always to have my own business regardless of the industry,” he said.
McClean operates the business with one employee.
He told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that he believed more people would get involved in entrepreneurship over the coming years.
Furthermore, his advice to young people who want to become businesspeople is to do lots of research about the area they want to get into and ignore comments from people who suggest they will not be successful – “no matter who it is”.
“Entrepreneurship on a whole is becoming more accepted as a career choice. We still have people who will face the biggest hindrance which is their parents or the older generation who may not understand what it is that they want to do. That is the case with a lot of my peers,” he said.
“Entrepreneurship will grow. It is becoming sexier and it is necessary because right now with unemployment at the point that it is at entrepreneurship is looking to be the way forward. You have to go and make your own job,” added McClean.
The St James resident said he planned to further grow his business as he sought new ways of being innovative to stay ahead of the competition.
“Competition for us is not just anybody else operating from a truck but every business that sells anything that you can drink,” he said.
When McClean started his drink business, he was met with mixed reactions from patrons.
“In the early days the initial reaction was one of relief because what we came to the market with was different to what already existed. That was mixed with some hesitance because what we were doing was adding a branded approach to the traditional food van or food truck as people would be familiar with,” he explained.
“What we did was put the idea of a branded cafe and took it to the people wherever that may be; at work, in Bridgetown, on the beach. At first it was a little bit of a shocker in that regard. What the market was accustomed to was smoothies made from syrups and concentrates. So when we came with the real fruit it took a little bit of education to let people know that is what a smoothie should really be. And people say this is what they were always looking for,” he added.
Sips Smoothie Bar is not free of some challenges. McClean said it was difficult setting up the operations during the slow growth period.
“And running a new business is also a challenge. Also the peculiar nuances of a mobile cafe, it has not been done. There are cafes here in the past that had a mobile unit but never a predominantly mobile business.
“So we couldn’t think like our competitors, we had to take a different approach to the entire business and how we communicated with our customers,” he said.
Sips Smoothie Bar relies heavily on social connections, said McClean, and every day a schedule for where the van would be, is sent out via social media.
The young businessman said he hoped the Barbados economy would improve soon but said he believed regardless of the state of the economy “people will spend money with businesses that they believe they will get the most benefits from and if that benefit is unique”.

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