We're bringing back our Client of the Month series and to kick it all off we're looking at Sushi Surprise, a trendy new takeaway in Shoreditch, London which inspired another of our articles, all about slightly tricky tax legislation in the food industry. Each month we'll be talking to one of our most interesting clients and sharing their stories with you, in the hope of providing some business-related inspiration.
Peter Lenart’s new takeaway food venture, Sushi Surprise, began life as an app idea. The outlet opened its doors in Shoreditch on December 1st 2014, and despite the fact that there are four sushi shops within walking distance, they are already building a loyal customer base. So what became of the app, and how do you launch a business and stand out against competition in a highly fragmented market?
While working as a sushi chef at high-end restaurant Yashin, Peter had an idea: an app for ordering ‘build-your-own’ sushi. His colleague Robert was more interested in starting a traditional takeaway, and Peter realised they could work together.
Many people have ideas for apps, but focus on the app, ignore the big picture, and fail to find users or monetise their product. Peter’s bespoke sushi app was all about having fun building wild and wonderful sushi, which would improve user engagement and loyalty, but it was a route to market rather than an actual product.
All wannabe app producers know the name of their nemesis: discoverability. Not only would this be an app in the sea of apps, but a food app. People like to know what they’re getting with food, and they really don’t like to mess about when it comes to raw fish.
A physical, high-street presence would kick-start a customer base, build a reputation, and get some revenue flowing. An app could then give them an edge, attract new customers and improve loyalty.
Peter, Robert, and now a third partner didn’t have it easy. Getting a business bank account was a relentless nightmare. According to the team renting a premises took around four hundred emails and when they finally had the keys... ‘There was no ceiling, the sideboard had been removed, and all the electrical wires had been cut.’ Contractors removing asbestos had demolished everything.
The launch of a business is incredibly important, and bad luck meant Sushi Surprise didn't get the launch it deserved. Opening was delayed. They had to open before ready as the money ran out. ‘We didn’t even have tables or chairs.’ Worse, they’d had no time for publicity or marketing and as we mentioned, competition in the area is steep. But against all the odds, the customers keep coming back and we can only see them growing. How have they achieved this?
‘The sushi is high-end – as good as Yashin – but at takeaway price.’ Peter knows success starts with a strong product, and good value. They also use fun, loyalty-building offers such as a surprise sushi piece in each lunch set. Following a less that public launch they’ve now started a leaflet and social media campaign, but Sushi Surprise is mostly relying on the oldest, and best, publicity tool in the box: word of mouth.
‘Customers say they would never go back to the other chains… They tell people. If they come here once, they come back again.’
The app really caught our imaginations too, and we were happy to hear it is now in development. With a strong following already, Sushi Surprise has a large, loyal customer base with which to launch the app. We believe it’ll get people talking, and drive more and more business through their new virtual doors.