Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are Javeed Somji and Sherri Zarandooz of the beloved PappaRoti brand, which specializes in making sure you experience the buttery, coffee-caramel coated buns of the same name that first took Malaysia by storm over 10 years ago…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
PappaRoti — the buttery, coffee-caramel coated “father of all buns” that first took Malaysia by storm in 2003 and has since opened over 400 Cafe locations worldwide — has now arrived in Canada. The first Canadian PappaRoti Cafe is now open on Robson Street (Vancouver) and soon there will be franchised cafes across the country.
With cafes in London, Dubai, Singapore and all over Australia, the delicious coffee caramel PappaRoti buns are immensely popular around the world. Though the art of pastry definitely varies across different cultures, PappaRoti has successfully developed a single, unique recipe that surpasses cultural diversity and appeals to an international audience.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
It was love at first bite for both of us when we independently discovered the PappaRoti bun in Dubai. We both knew immediately it was an artisan food brand that would appeal in Canada. Keen to start our own businesses, the PappaRoti franchise concept presented itself as the ideal combination of my (Sherri’s) business development experience and Jav’s passion for customer service.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
We are thrilled to introduce the PappaRoti bun to Canada. Seeing our guests crack the crispy topping and bite into the buttery bun for the first time and enjoy it as much as we do is so affirming. One taste and you’re hooked; the simple PappaRoti recipe and concept develops a loyal following wherever it goes.
As the Master Franchise for PappaRoti in Canada, every decision we make now plays a major role in the future of the brand across the country. It can be weighty at times.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
Within five years, the PappaRoti brand will be known across the country with Cafe expansion to other major markets across Canada including stores in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, plus additional stores in British Columbia. We anticipate 15 stores in the franchise by 2019.
What does success look like to you?
Expanding the PappaRoti brand into a household name one bun, one bite, one guest, one baker, one barista at a time. Producing a quality product, creating happy guests, happy staff, and happy franchisees.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Leading up to this point, our career paths have varied greatly with me (Sherri) working as an international business consultant and Jav focussing on banking and real estate. Getting the Master Franchise contract for PappaRoti Canada was the realization of the entrepreneurial dream for both of us and a major milestone.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Sherri: Just do what you love to do and do it with a passion. Always go after what you want. It may take time, but just keep in mind that if you are persistent you will reach your objective but if you are consistent you will maintain it and inevitably become triumphant.
Jav: Work hard, it does pay off!
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Sherri: One of the centers that we are interested in cooperating with is the DTES (Downtown Eastside) Women’s Centre. This center’s initiatives are to help the impoverished but also seek to help women gain leadership roles in society. I believe that in order to help others you should teach them to depend on themselves and be an active person in the community. By helping out in this centre I would like to try to motivate other women to go after their dreams and believe in their own strengths.
Jav: In my community (Ismaili) we have the Aga Khan Foundation, which is highly recognized in Canada for the work we do. I grew up in a third world country and truly understand the need for helping the less fortunate.
What is Notable to you?
We can both agree being notable means making a difference in society.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone for both of us.
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Sherri: I love traveling and learning about new cultures, but I also enjoy a relaxing time at home trying out new food recipes. Whether it’s spending quality time with my family and friends or going out to my favourite restaurants, I try to stay active in any way possible.
Jav: I am energized knowing that I am doing something positive, and making life a little more enjoyable for those around me – my friends, family and the community at large.