An Emirati student has turned his talent to entrepreneurship by launching a speciality food and beverage truck on his university campus.
Saeed Al Ghafli, a senior student of computing and information technologies at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai, set out to share his passion for coffee.
Within a few months, he managed to grow an enthusiastic following of customers among both university students and staff.
Shedding light on his new venture, Ghafli says, “The idea came to me with the inauguration of the new campus and its impressive array of academic and recreational facilities. While there are well-stocked canteen services, there was nowhere close by where I was able to get speciality coffee, which is something I have a real passion for, so I thought perhaps I could set something up myself.”
Then, with the support of the facilities team at the university, he went on to establish his own coffee truck on campus.
The student started out with a range of speciality blends, and brought in weekly specials, to introduce his growing customer base to new and unusual flavours.
The outlet is gradually growing its product lines to include smoothies and health-conscious snacks.
The UAE national points out that he drew upon his academic experience, particularly modules in business planning, to help him build a successful and cost-effective start-up model.
He added: “I was conscious that a large proportion of our customers would be full-time students and the price point is deliberately set to be lower than the regular market price.”
“My aim is also to share my passion for coffee and to showcase and educate people on the huge variety of beans from faraway places like Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”
Now in the final year of his studies, Ghafli manages the business alongside his academic and personal commitments, handling all the marketing through a dedicated Instagram channel.
He said: “It is of course challenging to take on a business while completing the senior year of my degree, but I am very disciplined about organizing my time each day and this is a project I really believe in and am dedicated to pursuing.”
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Speaking on behalf of RIT Dubai, Dr Yousef Al Assaf, President at RIT Dubai says: “RIT Dubai is building an ecosystem that provide its students opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship not only in their studies and internships but also by putting them to practice at campus and beyond. We hope other students will follow the example of Saeed in creating their business at campus in various fields. We are here to empower students during their studies and their future endeavours. ”
“Saeed has already recruited one team member into the business and is now looking into expanding beyond the university campus. We have a growing customer base coming from outside the university. Thanks to the specialties we source, the cost-effectiveness of our products, and the success of our marketing. I hope we will soon be able to build on this to establish more outlets around the local community,” added Assaf.