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Yara Mersi's Dubai-Based Concept Oatful Has Launched The GCC's First High-Protein Overnight Oats "The food industry has been manipulating the masses, and the global perception of nutrition has been distorted, becoming an unhealthy obsession. This made me compelled to prove that delicious food and healthy food do not have to be mutually exclusive."

By Devina Divecha

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Oatful founder Yara Mersi

In a day and age where breakfast often feels like a rushed afterthought, 23-year-old Yara Mersi's concept Oatful aims to make the morning meal great again. Mersi, the UAE-based brand's founder and CEO, says, "Oatful's innovative concept revolves around being the GCC's first high-protein overnight oats. The incorporation of over 20 grams of protein, superfoods, and fiber, coupled with a community-driven ethos, sets Oatful apart in the breakfast industry. We are changing the boring old fashioned oatmeal industry with our three product lines: protein overnight oat mixes, ready to eat protein overnight oats, and protein granola."

Oatful's goal is thus to redefine breakfast by blending exceptional taste with health-conscious choices. "We go beyond artificial flavorings, incorporating a variety of incredible superfoods to create a nutritious and flavorful breakfast experience," Mersi adds. "Oatful is not just oatmeal; it's a modernized breakfast choice crafted for the 21st century consumer."

Mersi's vision for Oatful, which she launched in 2021, was also influenced by a desire to offer consumers a truly wholesome option when it comes to food. "As I learned more about the food industry and nutrition, I became vexed at society's approach to food," she says. "The food industry has been manipulating the masses, and the global perception of nutrition has been distorted, becoming an unhealthy obsession. This made me compelled to prove that delicious food and healthy food do not have to be mutually exclusive."

Oatful has three product lines: overnight oat mixes, ready to eat overnight oats and granola. Source: Oatful

Coming up with her business idea was fueled by Mersi's personal journey and passion for nutrition. "I grew up eating overnight oats every single day for breakfast, which changed my life," she reveals. "With all the extracurriculars I was involved in during high school to attending my dream Ivy League school, I always started each day with a run. It became the first positive habit that gave me this awesome nutritional win every single morning. It also led me to make better decisions throughout the rest of the day. But the make-it-yourself version required too much time to prepare. And at the supermarket, almost every oatmeal in the aisle is stuck in that old paradigm of empty carbs, sugars, and cheap ingredients. And they were all the same, bland flavors."

This would explain why Mersi decided to make Oatful stand out with its commitment to quality ingredients and flavor. "We prioritize both protein content and the quality of ingredients," Mersi says. "For instance, our vanilla bean overnight oats boast the exquisite flavor of Madagascar vanilla beans, while our dark chocolate variant is enriched with ceremonial cacao powder, and a touch of Himalayan pink salt. Diving into nostalgia, our cereal milk flavor is a delightful journey back to childhood."

Related: UAE-Born Canvas Gelato Is Carving A Niche For Itself In The Local Ice-Cream Market With Its Novel (And Diverse) Flavors

And these flavorful offerings are definitely getting the brand noticed in the local market- Oatful also gained a spot on the Spinneys Local Business Incubator Program in 2023. But the journey Mersi has in mind for Oatful is far from over. "I foresee sustained growth, particularly our expansion plans extend beyond the UAE, encompassing the GCC, and reaching even further, underlining our commitment to making Oatful a global presence," she says. "I want to bring back the excitement to breakfast we once had when we were kids, and make people look forward to breakfast waiting for them in the morning. There's something very important about starting your morning right."

Source: Oatful

Eureka! Yara Mersi on how to make an idea a great one

Start- even if you don't know how "Launching into the unknown can be daunting, but taking the first step, even without a clear roadmap, is crucial. Many successful entrepreneurs didn't have it all figured out initially; enjoy the journey of discovery one step at a time. I was initially unfamiliar with the intricacies of business operations and the legal aspects involved and learned a lot on the way."

Embrace passion and purpose "Identify your genuine interests and discover what truly excites you. Also find a purpose by connecting your passion with societal needs. When challenges arise, understanding your 'why' keeps you motivated."

Prioritize community and customer engagement "Foster a network around your idea, then understand and engage your audience in the development process. Their insights are invaluable."

Iterate and innovate "Cultivate a growth mindset by embracing continuous improvement. Learn from feedback and adapt to changing dynamics in the market."

Related: Muna Al Gurg Launches Meem Foundation To Create Sustainable Change In The Lives Of Women And Girls In The MENA

Devina Divecha

Writer, editor, emcee, and media consultant

Devina Divecha is an independent writer, editor, emcee and media consultant, specialising in the hospitality and F&B industry. With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, her work has appeared in a number of publications including Skift, SUPPER, HOTELSmag, Destinations of the World News, Spinneys Magazine, Entrepreneur Middle East, and more. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.

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