Sarah Al-Qabandi

Sarah Al-Qabandi

Founder and CEO of YUMZ Food

Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Sarah Al-Qabandi, a Kuwaiti female entrepreneur, founder and CEO of YUMZ Food.

Tell us about your education.
After completing a BA in Marketing from the American university of Kuwait, I earned my MBA from Gulf University for Science and Technology and later completed an Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation at Cornell University NY.

How and when did the idea of YUMZ originate?
The idea of YUMZ came into mind when I had come across the wide obesity and diabetes rate in Kuwait. I noticed how these health problems affected children as they grew and wanted to promote a change in their lifestyle choices. In order to have a healthy adulthood, it must start at a younger age.

When did you decide to officially start YUMZ and what were the difficulties you had to face during the initial stage of your business?
We started Yumz almost a year ago with a concept to create healthy meals that customers can subscribe. We were targeting B2C and B2B such as nurseries. However, as the pandemic hit, it put a strain on our business where we were limited to mealtime deliveries and even the fear from the customers played a role. We overcame these variables through providing more content on social media that displayed our sanitization standards for the community to see. Transparency was key to portray that we are taking care of health standards. With this method we were able to cater to MOH front liners as we were nominated. Another thing was the fact we had to shift our business concept through not only catering for subscribers but to provide party boxes and catering as well. This direction attracted customers to provide their children with healthier options for celebrations. We also created packages that families can subscribe to. Since parents are direct role models this can influence the children to eat better as well the whole family can enjoy YUMZ together.

Please explain the concept of YUMZ briefly.
YUMZ is more than just a healthy food provider. We at YUMZ develop healthy lifestyle that is fun and attractive for children to make their meal experiences memorable. We have a fully experienced team onboard to deliver the best service to our customers. Our goal is to enhance the child’s wellbeing physically and mentally through good food. In our boxes we provide attractive looking meals to increase appetite for those who are picky eaters. In addition, in the box we provide fun educational activities that the kids participate in to enhance their food knowledge. We also provide a lovely customer service between our nutritionists and the children where they can communicate directly with them.

What are some of the benefits parents can expect from YUMZ subscriptions?
For the parents the benefits are numerous. It starts with less mealtime preparation and saving the time and cost to go grocery shopping. It also gives the parents an understanding what should be given to the child with regards to a complete nutritional healthy meal.

What ages are you targeting at YUMZ?
We are targeting the complete families with kids and teenagers.

How do you market YUMZ?
We market YUMZ through social media outlets. Our method is to promote and showcase our meals. Our in-house nutritionist provides health tips through Instagram to educate families about ingredients and food tips. We also collaborate with local companies that have similar interests to promote YUMZ.

How did the pandemic affect your business?
The pandemic affected the business through limiting our time to deliver our boxes. However, we have changed our delivery system for efficiency purposes. Therefore, we would deliver the next day meals the day before to ensure all customers have their meals on time. Another thing would be the limitation of staff members due to the restrictions. However, ever since we scored the MOH contract all staff members were highly motivated to be part of it as it was an honor to work with on. This has given the team a sense of hope and achievement.

How did you keep your business running during the pandemic?
We are a team of dedicated people so whenever there was a downfall each one of us would brainstorm different ideas to keep the business up and running. The pandemic actually has pushed us to develop our menus further by focusing on immune boosting meals, through capturing specific types of ingredients. As we stated previously changing our business direction and collaborating with professionals to increase our reputation in the market.

What are the challenges you are facing now and how do you overcome them?
Since Kuwait has finally started opening up slowly, we are actually looking for more opportunities to spread YUMZ. The challenges we are facing now is with the other competitors within the market as there are a lot of companies that provide the same service. We re-invented the wheel through segmentation but also building a close one-to-one relationship between our team and customers to ensure comfort.

What lessons did you learn during the lockdown?
The lessons we learned was to always be flexible and adapt to the situation. Try to find where the opportunities are at. Innovation is key.

What are you currently working on?
We are currently working on our weekend packages to provide for the chalets as well building a strong relationship with schools and nurseries.

What are some of your plans for the future?
Our future plans are to expand YUMZ into other GCC countries and provide them with the same high-quality standards that we offer in Kuwait. We are looking into growing through even creating summer camps and counseling for kids as we want to advocate a happy and healthy life.

What are some of your hobbies?
Reading, dancing and exploring good food.

Your motto in life?
The grass is greener where you water it.

Your favorite quotes?
Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right – Henry ford

Best advice you every received and from who?
Start your day by counting your blessings – Mom

Your message for other young females looking to start their own businesses.
My message is to Believe in yourself and Never lose sight of your vision. Don’t stop learning, take risks, calculated risks and have fun in the process!

Your message for us at CP magazine.
Thank you CP magazine for providing a great platform to share knowledge and experience.

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