When Brad Osumo started selling fish with his sisters at a small makeshift eatery along Thika Road four years ago, he did not expect to have the kind of success he enjoys now. The BigFish restaurant has grown to become one of the most popular fish joints in Nairobi, with a branch in Westlands and another at Roosters along Thika Road.
We visited Brad at the Westlands branch this past Thursday to get a taste some of his fish and to speak to him about his entrepreneurship journey. Read on to find out how a single tweet blew up his business and the lessons he has learned along the way.
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Hi Brad, kindly introduce yourself and tell us what you do
My name is Brad Osumo. I am in the fish business, something I have been doing since 2018 with my sisters Cynthia and Maureen. We were unemployed when we began, so we just sold fish to make ends meet. My sister used to sell fish in a makeshift structure just next to the road around Roysambu area. So I joined her in selling fish and we decided to get a small space at Rosters on Thika Road.
Most of us know you from Twitter, after a tweet you posted trended for some time. Tell us a bit about that.
We had started the business long before we blew up, back in 2018. Later in 2019 December I mentioned what I did on my Twitter page with a picture of a plate of fish. That is when the tweet blew up and I started getting many orders and enquiries. To be honest that was the biggest breakthrough for us as a business. It opened up our business to a lot more customers.
Where do you source your fish?
All our fish come from Lake Victoria. Because we regularly bring fish fresh from the lake, our customers have gotten used to our fresh fish, something that has been our biggest selling point.
How many employees do you have in both of your branches?
We currently have about fifty employees in both of our branches. Some employees are secondary, including riders that we use for deliveries. Others are cooks and waiters.
What qualities do you think have given you an edge over your competitors?
Affordability is our biggest selling point. Our fish is very fairly priced, from Ksh 350 to Ksh 800 depending on size. The quality of our fish in terms of freshness is another big advantage for us because we get repeat customers and lots of referrals.
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Is fish the only food you sell?
Yes, we only sell fish. We sell fish with accompaniments like Ugali and fries.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in your business?
One big challenge is the constantly fluctuating prices of cooking oil, cooking gas and maize flour. This makes it hard for us especially when we are transporting the fish from Migori and even when pricing our food.
The issue of licensing is another big challenge for us, especially with the many requirements we need. I am happy that the new Governor has given a directive for business people in the city to only have one business permit. If this is implemented, it will really reduce the burden on us as entrepreneurs.
What are some of the lessons you have learned along the way?
I like how entrepreneurship has instilled a sense of responsibility on me. Through this I have been able to grow and manage all my employees in a manner that grows us as a company collectively.
Where do you see yourself in the near future?
Like every entrepreneur, we have the dream to expand into more branches across the city.
Earlier this year you had very high profile visitors at the restaurant. Tell us a bit about the experience.
Yeah, I was on my usual errands at the Rosters branch when I received a call informing me that Hon. Raila Odinga, Martha Karua and other dignitaries had stopped by for fish at the Westlands branch. I was very surprised as they had not made any prior arrangements. I was also very humbled to have hosted such prominent leaders.
What advice would you give to young people who are looking to build a successful business venture?
What I would tell them is to try and be the best in what they do. They should also leverage social media to market their products and services. We can’t all do the same thing and succeed in the same field. Everyone should find what they are good at and maximize on that.