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"For Roundup, making people’s entrepreneurship dream a reality has been our goal from the very beginning. By helping them with their food truck businesses we achieved this goal,” explains Rafia Al Mulla, an entrepreneur leveraging her own ventures to allow other aspiring ‘treps do the very same thing. Al Mulla’s impressive foray into UAE’s F&B space began with a now 22-strong chain of frozen yogurt outlets, and since then, she launched yet another successful and growing subsidiary.
The industrious founder of 54° East, a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in Foodservice Management who also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Real Estate Management and a Higher Diploma in Marketing, has developed a large scale enterprise that not only develops homegrown brands, it actually facilitates those brands getting out into the market via Roundup food trucks, a 54° East company. “Roundup handles everything from the truck ordering, equipment fit out, licensing, registration, delivery and even site allowance, for a monthly fee on top of the cost of the truck. We are a one-stop solution from support to building up the company with trade licenses, customization of menus, government approvals, and locations.”
“The idea of Roundup is to give those interested in F&B access to vehicles and access the areas they could not enter- this is not just to make the food truck business sustainable, but also to enhance the social activities in Dubai. People [in UAE] socialize in malls, bars and restaurants, but seldom on the beach as we do in Europe or America. So we want to enhance, for instance, the park experience. Our food trucks will be fun- not just food.” Al Mulla, active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as part of Tejar Dubai and the Dubai Business Women Council, launched 54° East with a large-scale vision.
She later created her own festival-type atmosphere with last year’s Roundup Market boasting over 30,000 visitors, and she plans on getting even more footfalls for 2016’s edition. “Roundup Market is the idea born in our desire to create a food truck village with a minimum of six trucks on site and further 20 F&B kiosks. Roundup Market will come back for another run this year, 2016. We plan to make it bigger and fun, and fully reach out to all people who have been craving to try and visit the Roundup Market.”
'TREP TALK Q&A
DO YOU CONSIDER 54° EAST A STARTUP SINCE YOU'RE ALREADY A LARGE OPERATION?
“Yes. 54° East is a company that is getting bigger and bigger every year. I want to tap in to all F&B corners as much as possible. This way, I am able to reach all my market and cater them with good and quality service. Roundup aims to cater different concepts to fit into people’s ever changing taste in food. With the list of food truck members that we have on our team, we can assure that we appeal to all demographics and are suitable also for catering bookings and private events all over UAE. It is one of our strategic plans to diversify in our product range and locations by expanding into a wider variety of cuisines providing opportunity for every eating occasion.”
WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR ROUNDUP BY 54° EAST ORIGINATE?
“I have been in the F&B and catering business for more than 10 years now, and with my experience I believe that UAE is a potent source for international F&B ideas and concepts. The idea of Roundup by 54° East evolved to infuse the UAE market with the concept of having diverse street food with a better international forefront. We believe that food trucks (along with portable food kiosks and food carts), will be the headline of the street food industry in UAE which is expected to serve an estimated 2.5 billion people every day. Roundup food trucks will lead the way to the future of gastronomic mobility in Dubai and the UAE enriching dining experiences with authentic food concepts. Furthermore, our mission is to develop and create a professional B2B network by offering and giving support to other F&B operations.”
CAN YOU ELABORATE ON ROUNDUP’S ROSTER OF BRANDS THAT ARE FOOD TRUCK MEMBERS?
“Roundup handles everything from the truck ordering, equipment fit out, licensing, registration, delivery, and even site allowance, for a monthly fee on top of the cost of the truck. Food trucks who are proud Roundup members includes Mastiha Shop UAE, Calle Tacos UAE, Toasted, Shawarma Station, Bio Bean Coffee, Shawarmaty, The Mob Truck, Go Bai, Kono Pizza, Fit Truck, Fruteiro, and Mr. Brisket. We can say that all of our food trucks are unique and special in their own way. All of our food trucks offers different and delicious menus that all people will definitely enjoy. From shawarma to desserts to Mexican food to Italian cuisine to organic specialty coffee to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to delicious wings and burgers to bagels, and many more.”
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?
“Passion. What matters most is how you treat your clients -make your clients happy and give them what others will not- that’s the key stepping stone. I always love competition. This way, I have a good perspective on how to improve my business, and become motivated every day to become better organization.”
BECOME AN EMERGING EMIRATI ENTREPRENEUR
TEJAR DUBAI IS HERE TO HELP YOU REALIZE YOUR ENTERPRISE POTENTIAL
Tejar Dubai is a development program committed to nurturing potential UAE nationals into becoming entrepreneurs. Launched in 2013, the program identifies, develops, and mentors promising UAE nationals to expedite the growth of an embryonic business idea and advance it to the point of being ready for immediate implementation.