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It’s that ‘back to school’ time of year again, which always feels like the beginning of something new and exciting. In honor of that atmosphere, we sat down with one of our favorite market predictors Bunmi Okolosi founder of Kajola to get his predictions, insights and hear about his latest projects. Bunmi has worked as an international consultant for Hospitality, Food & Beverage companies for over 6 years. His company Kajola is dedicated to helping start-ups, scale-ups & corporates become world-class! Bunmi is also a co-founder and moderator of our KR Academy program, that has helped launch +30 start up businesses over the last 4 years.

So spill the beans, what are your predictions for the coming fall and winter months within the industry?

Staffing struggles will continue, well into next summer for most. I think employment methods and practices will need to change for entrepreneurs. They’ll need to do things like reduce hours, increase pay, reduce shifts and most importantly utilize necessary software tools to help streamline their operations.

In New York, for example, major restaurant groups have had to be really creative in order to stay competitive with how they recruit and hire. So some have started to offer a signing bonus. When you sign a contract with them you get a bonus immediately and it’s yours to keep when you stay there for 9-12 months. Hospitality needs to turn to creative tactics in order to stay competitive.

“… mental space and joy will dictate more people’s decisions than perhaps they did before COVID. ”

Interesting! And what more? 

I suspect that there will be more people volunteering for a brand because they believe in it and/or want to enhance their experience with that brand. I also think that mental space and joy will dictate more people’s decisions than perhaps they did before COVID.

Which new food opportunity since COVID do you find striking? 

We will experience more of the 10-minute grocery market and market of convenience options (like Gorillas and Flink). This type of leisurely up to the individual’s needs will dictate the market. While COVID restrictions had a lot of downsides, people will still want to utilize aspects of the leisurely, on-the-go services that cater to an individual’s needs.

Of course, there will be consolidation in that market too, they won’t all be able to compete in this market together forever. Eventually AH and Jumbo will see the chunk of business that these 10-minute grocers have taken from them and probably by next summer they will start trying to acquire them. This is already happening in Spain and Italy. COVID has just accelerated the dark kitchen wave and the 10-minute grocery delivery has spun that model further.


Speaking of dark kitchens. How do you think this model will continue?

They are here to stay without question but what’s a more interesting question is what will the volume be? Will it maintain or decrease? I say it will decrease because people like to go out, we all want to go out again. What you will see more of within delivery and dark kitchens are the more bespoke experiences. At home food experiences like Rijks and Ron Blaauw’s rijsttafel, these types offer people an exciting food encounter in the comfort of their own home.


For all those people still on the fence about starting a new food business in today’s world, do you have any advice for them?

To me, I would recommend a person to think about several things. Do you understand the market and who you are trying to target? Cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht have a lot to offer already and are highly competitive markets. So if you don’t know your audience you will have an upward battle.

Yes, take advantage of the opportunity that is there but do your research. Know your target personas, their habits, where they shop, what they like, what they don’t like, what content they consume online and offline, etc. This way you can target them and let them know, you know. Unless you have one of those amazing kickass products that get discovered quickly by influential influencers and trend spotters you are in for a long stoke. Tourism will come back but that’s a long way off from where it was before COVID, I predict it will be almost 2 years before we get back to pre-COVID revenue levels.

“People are not loyal when they have a large amount of choice. ”

Have any tips on creating target personas?

At Kajola we use a ‘buyer mentality matrix’ – and in this method there are 2 persona types: a buyer or a maker. A buyer is a person who prefers the efficiency of buying over making something from scratch, while a maker prefers the opposite. And within those personas there is also a classification of a maximizer or satisfier. A maximizer would rather have the best food experience rather than just a satisfying food experience. This categorization alone can help you establish how to approach and sell. We use and perfected this method in our work with big players in the industry like: Unilever, Nestle, Dr. Oetker, etc.


Where do you see great potential for both food service and retail sectors to venture into?

Partnerships. They are the most cost effective to leverage a business day to day and prevent overexertion in order to get additional sales. Everyone is looking to create a lower threshold partnership in some way or another so it’s a fresh environment to tap into and can benefit all parties involved.


Can you tell us a bit more about your participation in one new initiative called Melting Pot?

Yes, Melting Pot sprung up through my involvement with Joris Bijdendijk, Lowfood Movement, Clubhouse conversations and working alongside other top industry leaders who want to see a bigger push for diversity in the Dutch market. We are just in the phase of defining our plan of action and our mission is:

‘Melting Pot’ is a group of Horeca professionals with an initiative to create more diverse representation within the hospitality industry in the Netherlands. It was born from an idea and the understanding that diversity within the industry is seriously lacking and misrepresented on multiple levels. Melting pot would like to change that for the better. Normalizing a multicultural Dutch cuisine and shining a light on the appropriate people can only enrich the industry, making a more representative and thus tastier culinary landscape.’


Sounds amazing, have you seen any expansion and push for diversity currently?

I’ve been developing an impact fund that focuses on finding investors that truly care about diversity in hospitality, food and beverage and are ready to put their money where their mouth is. I’m talking about investment into LGBTQ and people of color businesses so that they can have the opportunities to grow and be seen. Right now I am working on a big deal with this black female hotel owner who embodies exactly what I think needs to be seen and celebrated today. I think now is the time to talk about diversity. The work that Mitchell Esajas over at Black Archives is doing has caused so much awareness on race and helped momentum. Truly, it’s about having these discussions so that diversity can happen. My team always talks about supporting ‘businesses of tomorrow’ and what that means to be a business of tomorrow is that above all: people, planet and profit are your base for what you accomplish.

These 3 P’s are important and when we talk about the people portion that means we need to think and uplift all people and the market today lacks diversity. All people must be given the same opportunities and chances for development. My impact fund is not only about money but also offering people of color or LGBTQ companies more guidance in a market they have been left out of.

Do you feel like here in the Netherlands we are having a reckoning like what’s happening in the States or France for example?

Nowhere near, it feels a bit mentally cocooned here. But you have to remember the Dutch are on their 3rd or so generation chef like with Joris Bijdendijk, Denis Huwaë, or Sidney Schutte who are pushing to open the culinary landscape beyond their predecessors. Now when you look at immigrant families here, they are only in their 2nd generation chefs. Probably their parents started their food businesses in the 60s-70s and those 2nd gen kids still want to maintain their parents mentality and approach: “Dutch people love our food, they are doing us a favor.” And in this mindset they don’t think or feel a need to break free of the Dutchified commonly bland spiced variation. This is not just in the food industry, it transcends into many other sectors like politics. Did you know that the 1st black female founded political party leader (Sylvana Simons) entered the Dutch government only this year? But don’t get me wrong, Dutch do like the flavors and will frequent places that offer them when they know about it but having open, frequent conversations are just not happening and awareness is how we break barriers.

Thank you so much for having this open conversation with us Bunmi and we hope there will be many more to follow!

For all you who want to learn more about Kajola be sure to visit their website, feel free to contact them through their media outlets. The Kajola Guidance Program is going on now. They work with startups, scale ups and corporates to help in all facets of what each business level needs.

Kajola is dedicated to creating solutions for international hospitality and food start-ups. We’re devoted to making the hospitality and food scenes richer, more diverse and more rewarding for food lovers and experience seekers everywhere.

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