UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 01 OCTOBER
A Computer Science graduate who founded his own company whilst studying will have his own range of drinks on sale at BCU catering outlets as part of Black History Month.
Kyhee Douglas-Francis, who graduated from BCU in 2019, founded Genna's Kitchen in April 2018 and employed his mum and grandmother to work for him.
The alumnus, whose company has recently expanded on a huge scale, is now celebrating his products being sold across the UK, including right here at BCU during the next month.
He said: “I’ve always been business minded with an entrepreneurial spirit. It all started with me sending a message to about 50 friends whilst in my second year, telling them that I was selling a lobster platter for £20.
“My mother helped me source the ingredients and stock from multiple vendors and wholesalers, as well as being the chef, creating our flavoursome dishes. Though balancing my studies was a challenge, the inspiration that kept me going was the great support I received from my friends and people around me, who constantly gave me good feedback about the food.”
After just weeks of selling food to family and friends, Kyhee started an Instagram account, enabling him to branch out to a much wider audience. He then started to sell food every Friday and Saturday, and decided to branch out into drinks offerings too.
He said: “Before graduating, I wrote a three year business plan and decided that in addition to the food menu, I would also offer a mixed fruit punch drink to sell alongside my meals called Genna Juice – Sky Juice. I first began just using water bottles to produce and sell the original flavour. But since then, I have developed the range to include Grape, Exotic, Pineapple, and more flavours coming soon.
“As demand kept increasing, I was unable to mix and bottle enough Sky Juice per week to keep up with the demand, so I approached a bottling company to find out the procedures for me to bottle and factorise the product. I then trailed and tested my product for 12 months before I had my first production line batch of drinks.
“I then started to approach local shops in my area to see if they would stock the Genna Juice. I produced my first batch of drinks in April 2020, and within 3 months I had more than 70 shops across the UK selling my products.”
Since then, Kyhee has stopped using the family kitchen as the company base, and now has his own unit for all preparation and selling of both his food and drink options.
He said: “Having my own unit has enabled me to expand my business from only serving Friday and Saturday to Wednesday to Saturday, with intention to open 7 days week soon. I’ve also been able to expand my menu and be able to serve more food at a quicker pace with a much higher quality.
“We officially launched at our new location in July 2021, and I can happily say that I have succeeded in my 3 year business plan. It’s now time to plan the next 3-5 years.”
Rochelle Orr, General Manager of BaxterStorey at BCU Millennium Point and Parkside, said: “The catering team is delighted to be collaborating with BCU Alumni Kyhee to sell Genna's Kitchen drinks alongside our food pop-ups for Black History Month this October.
“We can't wait to showcase a fantastic local and black owned business product across the BCU campuses and promote his story throughout the month of October."
Miah Bailey, ADM Employability Administrator (Careers+), said: “I AM BCU shows pride for the stories and success of BCU talent, perfectly coinciding with the theme this year for Black History Month being 'Proud To Be'. With that said, its super exciting to have worked with the Catering team to coordinate this collaboration with Genna's Kitchen.
"Having followed Kyhee on his journey from the beginning, it’s great to see the growth and success of his business and I hope that our staff and students at BCU enjoy a taste of the culture this Black History Month in celebration of our diverse community.”
Genna Juice will be featured at BCU catering outlets during October as part of a collaboration for Black History Month. They will be available at the campus where the Black History Month roadshow is on that day throughout the month.