Healthy & home-grown: Protein Bakeshop

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Home-grown in the UAE, Protein Bakeshop encourages consumers to swap processed sweet treats with healthy variants made from honest ingredients. Protein Bakeshops treats can be found in over 200 outlets in the UAE and 750 coffeehouses across the GCC. Most recently, the brand has partnered with global coffee shop chain, Starbucks.

“It’s a huge milestone for any CPG (consumer packaged goods) company to partner with Starbucks, especially for a start-up like us,” said Saad Umerani, co-founder of Protein Bakeshop, “It’s the perfect brand association for us. Your best premium coffee, with our premium healthy snacks, on-the-go! We are especially proud to be one of the first home-grown UAE food brands to be stocked in this world-renowned coffee house, we believe it speaks volumes about our products and business model and proves we are on the right track to achieve our brand’s vision and goals.”

“From the early days we said more ‘Nos’ than ‘Yes’ in order to build a strong and credible brand. We decided to never compromise on the ingredients used in our products. We were clear that it’s alright if less people buy our products, but let them buy the right thing. We are seeing these decisions paying off positively,” he shared.

Alongside its recent partnership with Starbucks, in five years Protein Bakeshop has expanded its reach to over 250 outlets across five countries in the GCC in a variety of supermarkets, restaurants, gyms and hotels. The stockists include Carrefour, Choithrams, ZOOM, Emarat, All Day Mini Mart, Milk & Honey Gourmet, Ripe Markets, ones the Grocer, Stomping Grounds, Tania’s Teahouse, Reel Cinemas, Jumeirah Hotels, Crank and Motion Cycling, to name a few.

That’s significant growth for a home-grown brand started in 2014 in a small kitchen by nutrition expert and diabetic educator, Rashi Chowdhary. Over the next couple of years, the brand grew slowly but surely. Around three years ago the brand needed funding, which is when Dubai-based venture capitalist, Umerani – founding partner at Enabling Future – stepped in. After successfully closing seed funding round of $400,000 in January 2018, Umerani officially took over as the CEO of Protein Bakeshop.

Are people willing to pay more for healthy food: Consumers are far more aware and informed today. They look for healthy ingredients in foods they consume. They realise if sugar is replaced by organic honey, the price of the product will go up. They are open to paying slightly extra if the product is clean and healthy. Having that said, as a business we have to find the sweet spot when it comes to product pricing.

Is less really more: When it comes to human body, lesser the ingredients in the food we eat, the easier it is for our body to digest and absorb the nutrients. We realised and implemented this while curating our product range at Protein Bakeshop. That’s a why our range is small but very effective – including Peanut Butter Truffles, Almond Truffles, Dark Chocolate Truffles, Coconut Truffles, Nut Bites and Chocolate Bites. It’s all clean with no hidden ingredient.

Start-up scene is evolving: Cost of doing business here is high. Not many people talk about it. Having that said, the start-up scene has come a long way. Protein Bakeshop has also come a long way. We were one of the first start-ups in the venture capital space, and we made some cool investments. We were also one of the first UAE companies to go to Y Combinator – an American seed accelerator that created a new model for funding early stage start-ups. Even region-based big family businesses have begun investing in start-ups. The growth potential is big. The region is being taken seriously.

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