The business-building twin brothers who took breakfast to Brick Lane with the Cereal Killer Cafe

It’s been dubbed as hipster heaven by some, given its home at 139 Brick Lane in Shoreditch – an East London area commonly occupied by tech startups, beards, non-prescription glasses and hats of the bowler, woollen and trilby varieties.

However, the Cereal Killer Cafe is much more than a fashion choice, as Real Business found out during an interview with founder Gary Keery who started the business, which sells more than 120 different types of cereals from around the world, with his twin brother Alan.

The budding entrepreneur was working in the hospitality industry for two years back in his hometown of Belfast before moving to Brighton eight years ago, which is where he started in working in sales, most recently as regional sales manager for e-cigarettes.

When asked why working independently was the way forward, he explained: “The older you get, you realise you don’t want to work for someone else – you wake up on a Monday and it’s very predictable in terms of your wage and the hours you’re working. Any time I had an idea to grow the business, my ideas would get shot down.

“Alan and I had discussed business ideas around t-shirts and clothing, but the idea for the cafe came when we were in Shoreditch for lunch back in August 2013. He asked what I fancied, and rather than a burger or pizza, what I really wanted was cereal.”

He realised that nowhere could cater to his afternoon need for sugar and dairy thus set out to get the concept developed into a business plan. False starts for business loans from less than useful banks followed, as Keery described them as the “biggest nightmare and absolutely terrible, putting us five months behind schedule.”

The brothers ended up turning to the Virgin Startup scheme championed by Richard Branson, securing a mentor and loan, which joined their existing independent savings.

Another route the company went down originally was crowdfunding with Indiegogo. “After putting the campaign live, we got a phone call from them saying it was done all wrong, and that we were charging far too much [for bowls of cereal] and should have done things at discount rates, like on Groupon for example. We were trying to raise £60,000 and only raised £1,000, but it gave us exposure,” Keery revealed. “You live and learn.”

Seedrs was another option chosen to bring on investors after starting to look for properties in May, some of which required a six month deposit or £70,000 a year rental. The campaign was cancelled after a week and a half, as the duo found the base on Brick Lane, which suited their budget. The Dalston-based siblings conducted market research ahead of launching and the Shoreditch inhabitants were receptive to the concept, which assured them they’d made the right choice for the location.

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