Erika Cantor from Hunger Buster shares her insights.
Hunger Buster is an American burger joint that got its break from the Ateneo’s JSEC (John Gokongwei School of Management Student Enterprise Center). Owner Erika and her partners weren’t satisfied with just selling to their schoolmates though, so they actively joined weekend markets such as Mercato to promote their brand and reach more customers.
Hunger Buster is now well known for having very affordable burgers, great for students on budgets. Since its opening, it has already expanded to three branches across the Metro and has even been featured on some of Booky’s Breakthrough and Top 10 Most Loved lists!
Erika and her partners realized that…
1.) On-the-go food was in high demand.
2.) There were plenty of affordable burger joints outside the school (mostly fast food restaurants) but none inside.
To provide people with affordable meals they can eat while on-the-go in the form of burgers, with emphasis on unique taste and high quality.
✓ Acting fast. Erika shares that even before opening in ADMU, she and her partners were already selling in bazaars and weekend markets. This allowed them to test their ideas, refine their operations and reach more customers such as corporate employees.
✓ Hard work and discipline. Aside from daily JSEC operations, joining the weekend markets meant a lot of hard work because they would end at 3am every Friday and Saturday.
✓ Research. None of the Hunger Buster team are culinary graduates, but they combined their knowledge and did their research to come up with a great product.
ERIKA’S TIP: “Don’t get discouraged if things don’t work right away. For one week after we opened, we were only selling less than 100 burgers [a day] on average. But then things suddenly changed and … we were selling around 300 burgers a day.”
HOW TO GROW?
✓ Start saving early. Erika shares that the decision to continue Hunger Buster after graduation happened late in the school year, so they didn’t have much savings to use for expansion at first.
✓ Maximize your network. One of the Hunger Buster partners was able to get them into the food tasting for the Xavier School cafeteria, while another helped them get a space inside the Cervini Building in Ateneo.
✓ Taking calculated risks. Hunger Buster took a chance and joined an event that required a relatively large investment (800 free samples!). It paid off—media personalities, food bloggers and other people at the event all loved their burgers, which helped promote Hunger Buster even more.
ERIKA’S TIP: “Sometimes you have to take risks in order to be out there but then that doesn’t mean taking every opportunity you can get. Always know all of the information before taking those opportunities.”
✓ Dying Burger – Made with bacon, mushrooms and melted cheese
✓ Starving Burger – Made with barbecue sauce and onions
✓ New products – Chicken wings, French fries and milk shakes. These are only available at their University Mall branch– for now.
ERIKA’S TIP: “What I like about University Mall is that I get to add [new] products. … While majority of our customers want Dying, my personal favorite is Starving.”
Feel the hunger yet? Bust it by checking out Hunger Buster on the Booky App, or stoke that burger craving you probably already have by checking out our list of your most favorite burgers in Manila.