An Emirati student at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Dubai has turned his talents to entrepreneurship with the recent launch of a speciality food and beverage truck on the university campus. Saeed Al Ghafli, a senior student of computing and information technologies, set out to share his passion for coffee, and within a few months, has grown an enthusiastic following of customers among both university students and staff.
Saeed explained, “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 service, 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.”
With the support of the facilities team at RIT Dubai, Saeed went on to establish his own coffee truck on campus, starting out with a range of speciality blends, along with weekly specials, to introduce his growing customer base to new and unusual flavors. The outlet is gradually growing its product lines, to include smoothies and health-conscious snacks, and attracts buyers from both on and off campus.
Saeed says 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 revealed, “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 aims 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, Saeed 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 pursue.”
Speaking on behalf of RIT Dubai, Dr Yousef Al Assaf, President at RIT Dubai commented “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. He said, “We have a growing customer base coming from outside the university, thanks to the specialities 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.”