#EntrepreneurOnFire: Emile Alexander popped his way out of poverty
Emile Alexander was “really depressed” at the end of 2014. He had tried his hands at several businesses - opening Jimmy’s Killer Prawns in In 2007; construction, digital media, and business training - and they all failed
The following year, 2015, he researched other startup ideas, and came across the gourmet popcorn phenomenon.
Says Emile: “For a long time, South Africans only had cheap savoury popcorn and mass-produced caramel popcorn offerings to choose from on the market. There wasn’t ‘premium gourmet popcorn’ of high quality in a range of flavours.
“I remembered that in my travels with South African Airways (SAA), I used to see gourmet popcorn in New York and Atlanta. I saw there was a gap in the market here in South Africa, as no one did gourmet popcorn,” says Alexander.
“This was an opportunity waiting to be exploited, because South Africans love snacking and globally, gourmet popcorn was growing very fast as a food concept. I knew that it wouldn’t be long before somebody launched it here.”
And so he borrowed R1500 from a family member, bought all the ingredients he required, and started popping popcorn in his kitchen and selling it to his community, before starting his brand, Emilio’s Gourmet Popcorn.
For someone who was just 17 years old when he set up a hotdog stand at a jazz festival, this is a story of sheer entrepreneurial perseverance - and it has paid off.
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