How I got here: Andreas Borgmann, Kcal co-founder and chief executive - Gulf Business
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How I got here: Andreas Borgmann, Kcal co-founder and chief executive

How I got here: Andreas Borgmann, Kcal co-founder and chief executive

Kcal founder explains how he became his own boss

Education

Growing up knowing I might not have the brightest future because of dyslexia made my early school days pretty hard. I got to watch my class mates move ahead, while I stayed behind. My focus was on everything besides school and I turned to creative learning to accommodate my lack of reading and writing. This cultivated my creativity even more. As I got older, I felt my choices were limited. I chose graphic design, hoping it was the path for me. It was not. I needed to feel more passion, a kick. I needed to feel alive and sitting in front of a computer the rest of my life was not going to satisfy that drive in any way. I needed to do my own thing; I needed to be my own boss, so I became an entrepreneur.

My start

Being an entrepreneur is like riding a bicycle with no handlebars. People think ‘this dude is really brave’ while you are thinking ‘why the hell did I get on this bike and how do I turn’. In 2009, having started various businesses from the age of 18, I was ready for something new. This is when I launched Kcal with my friend and business partner – Mark Carroll. My hobby and passion for healthy food turned into a business. Neither of us had owned or worked in the food and beverage industry before. I once worked as a dishwasher when I was 16 but that was not much help. But we had passion and the entrepreneurial spirit; we truly believed we could make the business work.

Approach

I believe you need to make sure you understand and service your staff and that they are comfortable and happy. They need to be motivated to make your dream come alive. They need to see your vision and have your passion. I have also found having a trusted business partner is key. Mark has many of the qualities that I do not. This takes a lot stress off my shoulders, plus I have a person that goes to battle with me daily. For the first two years of Kcal we did not get paid. We did every job in the business, cooked, delivered and even kept the books. Today we have built-up a great team of individuals that have the same passion that we do. It is an awesome feeling to work with so many smart and dedicated people.

Dos and Don’ts

Do be a people person. Do be respectful, honourable and humble, and show empathy. Be likeable, you never know when you may need help, who you will meet and who can help you. Create a network of people that have a similar mindset. People with passion have so much positive energy that it will keep you going. Get out there, talk, make contact, open up, tell a story and smile even when times are tough. Do not neglect your finances; make sure you have a clear line of sight to what is going on. Do not hire the wrong people. Take your time to hire the right people, ones that fit your passion and your vision. Otherwise you will end up losing money and time in the process. Do not stop learning. I always find a way to learn or teach myself new things to help improve my business. There are so many ways to develop the skills you need to become successful and with passion there really is no limit to what you can do. Most of all, do not get lost in a bit of success, it can pass you by very fast.

Highs and Lows

We all hear about the business titans, how much money they made, how great they are and so on. But the reality is that most entrepreneurs struggle, never make it and can barely live on their business. The financial crisis of 2008 was most definitely a low point. Back then, I owned five businesses and was at a point where I had spread myself too thinly. I did not have the right people in place to succeed. I had to sell some, close others. Having lost most of the pennies Mark and I had saved from our other business, we made a choice to give Kcal everything we had. We officially opened the business on September 27, 2009. I definitely learned throughout this time that it is important to not only have passion for what you are doing but also focus. This allows you to give 100 per cent and provides a much greater chance of getting it right.

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