Lunch with... Shaketastic

31/10/2015 - 13:26
School mates Amir Darabi and Josh Kettle joined forces six years ago to set up milkshake and smoothie brand Shaketastic. Last month they celebrated opening their 10th store at the London Designer Outlet opposite Wembley Stadium. Maria Bracken caught up with Josh to discuss the brand.

Background

Amir and I were both 29 years old when we launched Shaketastic. We both attended John Lyon School and remained friends before we set up the brand together. Prior to Shaketastic I set up my own agency for 10 years and focused on business and development, which I still do today. The Shaketastic idea came to me whilst I was in Brazil on holiday. Juices and smoothies featured quite heavily out there and I realised there could be an opportunity back in the UK. Yeah, the juice and smoothie market has been done in the UK, but not particularly well. This was our turn to shine.

Amir and I influence each other enormously. We have very different skills sets which complement each other. Amir’s background includes working for big hospitality companies such as PizzaExpress and Clapham House Group. He has gained some valuable experience in the operational side of running a business which has benefitted Shaketastic massively.

Talk me through the opening of the very first Shaketastic

We opened Shaketastic in 2009 in North West London. It was the deepest snowfall at the time that the country had had in a decade. It was freezing and was also the hardest recession for a decade. It couldn’t have been a worse time to open a store but having said that the day we opened, all of the kids were off school and people were off work – we thought to ourselves, ‘we had to be onto a winner’. 

From day one the concept was a hit. We opened our second store within six weeks in Hertfordshire then two months later we opened the third shop in North Finchley, then two months after that we opened our fourth store in Brent Cross.

So in less than 10 months we opened four stores. After a crazy first year we took some time out to take a relook at the brand. We then had people saying that they wanted the brand and experience to come to them. We then began to think about how we can we make it mobile. One thing led to another and we ended up buying a London double decker bus. We fully converted it into a Shaketastic bar with a disco upstairs. It now goes out to festivals and we love hosting private parties on there.

So, including our pop up bar concept (where we put bars into events) and our bus, we now have 10 stores and we have our first franchise opening. It has been an incredible journey.

Which site has been your most successful yet?

The most iconic is our opening in Hamleys in Regent Street, London, the world’s most famous toy story. For me this was a massive benchmark. Everyone knows Hamleys. I used to go there as a kid and it is a magical place, so to open my brand here was amazing. It is extremely successful, touch wood.

Who is your target audience?

As our drinks are made to order we are aiming at the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) customer. But overall, we appeal to all ages and races. We often have toddlers in with their parents and have even had a 109 year old in before! Our concept is all based around fun.

Talk me through your menu

We are well known for our milkshakes, which are super indulgent. If you want a milkshake, we will make you a delicious, over the top, milkshake. On the other hand we do have super healthy options as well. We have between 95 and 130 milkshake flavours depending on seasonality, limited editions and trialling new ranges, along with endless combinations.

We keep our menus fresh and innovating. We always want to be one step ahead so we update our menu a couple of times a year. We are always moving with the times, following trends and listening to our customers.

What have been your proudest business achievements?

Apart from every time we open a new store I think for me it has got to be winning the British Smoothie Championship three times. We have also been shortlisted this year. Fingers crossed!

Who are your competitors?

We are a weekend brand. People come to Shaketastic because they love the whole experience we give them, everything from the music, staff and the whole brand. You are paying for more of the experience.

What does your brand stand for?

The brand stands for quality and customer service. We want to become the worldwide leading destination and aspiration brand for young people by delivering a high quality, branded, blended beverage in a safe, fun environment. It’s all about mixing people with passion. Music also plays a big role in our brand. We work with music artists when we do live performances.

What’s next for the brand?

Going forward we will be focusing a lot on our international franchise business. Our aim is to grow the brand worldwide. When people think of milkshakes we want them to think Shaketastic, in the same was as they do coffee. When people think of coffee they generally think of Starbucks. I want people to think of the red Shaketastic logo when they think of milkshakes. Going back to franchising, we also need to focus on getting the right people in the right parts of the world to grow the business. I want Shaketastic to be a world famous aspirational brand for young people.

What’s trending in the grab & go industry?

The coffee market is still going nuts and I don’t understand why. There is also clearly a massive surge in the burger scene. There are some quality burgers out there. Coffees introducing alcohols is also another trend. I was in Soho Grind recently and had a martini espresso. I also believe that the burrito and taco market still has some legs on it. But the next big, big thing is my idea and I wouldn’t want to give that away! Watch this space.

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