Fast Food stores are expanding rapidly worldwide and specifically in Libya. The number of stores increased in the past 10 years and many people started innovative ideas and the Libyan market made a huge shift which is quite apparent today. One of the ideas that caught my attention was a milkshake store but this one was definitely different and unique and I was always curious about the place. It is called Shake-Up and this place’s story is worth documenting because it is more than a place that sells shakes! Therefore, I decided to reach out, and luckily, they were so open for the interview and they welcomed it very much and that made me more excited to write this piece.
I interviewed four people from ShakeUp. The founder and the mind behind this incredible place, Abdulraouf Ben Abied. Marwa and Qasim from the media team and finally, Yahya from the mixers team. Talking to them and getting their different perspectives on the work they are doing was very inspiring and I am proud to have gotten the chance to speak to them and get a closer look of what is being done behind the scenes in order for us, clients, to get the final delicious product.
Shake-Up opened its doors in the summer of 2016 in Tripoli during Ramadan and the way this store grew and expanded is mind-blowing and it is worth sharing the story behind it. I believe that new intrapreneurs can learn plenty from Shake-Up because there are multiple dimensions linked to the work done within Shake-Up that goes beyond the business as usual scenario that we are used to. Talking to the mind behind this store was an eye-opening experience because I could tell from the way Abdulraouf talked about the store, it is more than just a business for him and it means so much to him.
The idea began years before implementing the project, He has a degree in international business management and he started to collect information about food brands to understand the operation management behind many famous food brands and the different mechanisms of operation. He got the chance to meet store managers and when it wasn’t possible, he would do so by observation. He followed the strategies of employment and the needs of the target audience.
However, when he came back home, it was not easy to collect information and clients are different, and their expectations because they need a special way of approaching which is different from abroad. It is easy to get access to information abroad but in Libya, you have to talk directly to businessmen and those within the scene before you so you can get a grasp of how private businesses start off and how they can actually sustain in the market. I think that starting a business is hard but at the same time it is easy if you have financial means but the most difficult part is how to keep the business running and grow in a steady way.
There are three people involved in starting Shake-Up but the idea is originated from Abdulraouf. His friend Muaad Abouzamazem and his brother Engineer Mokhtar Ben Abeid are his partners. They started the journey of testing different mixes but sometimes due to lack of materials, some mixes options were to be cancelled.
As I previously mentioned, the reality in Libya is completely different and he found himself using only 25 percent of all the information he gathered and studied. The Libyan market requires a different approach and a specific policy in order to start your own business. In addition, the emotional aspect is an important part of this process.
Their target was not just a place that makes a financial profit, of course, it is an important part of any business but they see beyond it. They believe that it should have a value and their mission is to have a full Libyan staff, no prior experience is required and it is better if the employees are students.
For example, Abdulraouf talked about Qasim and the way he developed since 2016 and until now from working as a mixer and photographer. All the staff work from the heart, they started with four people including Abdulrauf himself and he got involved in many parts of the work. Now they have 22 employees.
They are considering having more branches in the future of course but the idea is still on hold. In terms of services, they focus on three main things and these are the quality of the product, cleanness, and good manners with clients. They have received many offers from many parts of Libya and even outside of Libya. However, they want to take their time if they ever decided to do it and he told me that they are not going to rush the process of national and international expansion.
Abdulraouf makes sure that the environment for employees and clients is a safe and friendly one and he has learned so much from Shake-Up. Through his work, he got the chance to deal with people from different backgrounds. They have faced many obstacles since the opening of Shake-Up and it wasn’t perfect and still isn’t perfect but these lessons are what keep them going.
For him, employees are not just people who would come to work and leave, they become family and they all have a special relationship with the place even after they leave. So for him, it can be really hard when someone decides to leave for any reason.
On the other hand, training is an important phase before actually taking charge of the position. Abdulraouf trains new employees for a period of two months and he makes sure that they get all the support they need so they can pick up the work and be comfortable with their position as it requires patience, delicacy, and speed.
”Learning work ethics before learning the work” – Abdulraouf described what work is in ShakeUp. He is so down to earth and he still thinks that they can do better than what they are already doing because it is incredible and I am so honored to know that this place exists in Libya because so much is being done behind it.
I mentioned that there are many aspects other than the business as usual. Social responsibility is a key pillar in Shake-Up and they believe that they must give back to society and be an effective member within it. They have done so many initiatives but the most important one is called Dawirha which means recycle it ”دورها” and it aims to push for recycling habits and they started membership cards for people so the more you recycle, you can get a free cup after you give them back the cups you finished which you did not throw away so Shake-Up can recycle them for you.
Getting to know all of these details from Abdulraouf was a great opportunity because we must understand that there is so much hard work and sacrifice being put in many ideas and businesses and we can learn so much and pay more respect for people who want to make a tangible change within the society and help it develop regardless of how hard the situation is.
Another important part to highlight is the mixers team because it is one of the most important sections in the store and I got to interview Yahya. He has been working in ShakeUp for two years now and he learned how to work under pressure and in different circumstances. The majority of work is intensive and it is always crowded and they need to be alerted all the time. He loves the staff and the working environment. ”What is really special about ShakeUp is that no differences exist between staff and administration which makes you feel as you are home and it is definitely a second home for me.” described Yahya.
Let’s not forget the media team. Shake-Up is not only active on the ground but they are very active on social media platforms. Their activity is one of the reasons that would attract more clients. So many people got excited to visit Shake-Up because of social media and their posts are so heart-warming and attractive.
Qasim and Marwa are part of the media team. Qasim is the photographer and Marwa is the social media coordinator. Qasim has been part of Shake-Up since 2016 and Marwa started working with them a little over a year ago. They all agree that it is a family-like environment. The vibes are comfortable and positive.
Qasim told me that he doesn’t feel restricted and that his ideas are welcome and can be discussed with everyone. He learned so much from working in Shake-Up both as a mixer and photographer. He learned how to work under pressure. As a photographer, he focuses on credibility and to bring out the product as it is in the picture.
Regarding challenges, it is mainly how to bring out new ideas and break the routine to keep it active and exciting. He realized the impact of social media and he said that half of the work in Shake-Up is social media as he observed from clients and it is what made so many people come to the store and there is a warm interaction with people.
Shake-Up is always up to date with what is happening within the society from events such as Teacher’s day, Child’s day, etc. They try to be part of every occasion possible. This shows that the vision and mission go beyond the usual businesses and that’s why Shake-Up is a special place for sure.
I asked Qasim to describe Shake-Up with a single work and he used ”Up to date’‘. I believe he is definitely right because this place and people behind it proved it to be an up to date place from every aspect possible. Marwa also gave me her opinion and answered my questions openly. She told me that the environment is amazing and it is so open and nice as she described.
She loves that people who work in Shake-Up are appreciative. It is convenient and teamwork is essential in the core of ShakeUp. She told me that what she loves about the place is that it speaks like us and also speaks to us in a way no other place has done it before.
She learned so much from her work and learned how to translate the demands of people and even away from work, she got to know incredible people and made friends from this job. Working in media, they focus on how to turn the store through social media platforms and viewers in order for them to have the same feelings they would get when they are actually in the store.
It is a way to keep people excited to visit the store. The impact of social media is very influential and it is not about the revenues of certain products but she noticed that the online content is very appealing even to those who have not been to the store yet. It is key to keep things simple but unique in terms of designs and pictures and they also focus a lot on awareness as social responsibility is part of Shake-Up’s core mission.
Listening to them speaking about their work in Shake-Up can tell you so much about the place and the hard work put in order to have the best quality and also to leave a positive impact in the society. It is definitely more than a place that sells shakes. It is a success story that I hope many people can be inspired by so we can see more amazing ideas within the Libyan market. Special thanks to Abdulraouf, Qasim, Marwa, and Yahya for their time and openness in order for me to bring out this article for everyone to read.
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