12 years ago, a successful story about the development of the Surf'n'Fries brand, with an emphasis on a global brand, started from Rijeka and a small restaurant of a little more than 25 m2. Today, Surf'n'Fries fries are sold through franchise models in over 20 countries with hundreds of partners.
The very initial vision to launch a globally successful franchise from Croatia is admirable, let alone realized. The story of Surf'n'Fries can be divided into two key phases: Idea and innovation and perseverance and effort.
How to make an innovation when it comes to fries?
At first, an impossible mission, but Andrija Čolak managed just that. And in a way that he made a hollow through the middle of the potato, ie he hollowed out the potatoes so that the sauce would "fit" into it perfectly. A brilliant idea, and as much as it was impossible to talk at all at the beginning and think about an innovation when we talk about fries, that's exactly what Colak did.
However, no matter how logical and natural some ideas or solutions may seem to us, in their simplicity lies their genius, and behind which are hours and hours of creative thinking, trial and error… but persistence still paid off.
But that’s just the beginning of the story.
When you sell fries, sauces, juice the imperative arises and the question is how to put all three things in one hand? And there has also been a new innovation in packaging i.e. Surf n Fries packaging.
The packaging itself is a top solution at the global level in the context of "on the go" food packaging. The All in One solution made it possible to hold french fries, sauces, juice and breaded chicken medallions or chicken nuggets in one hand, while with the other hand we can eat in peace, while still on the move. Also, an innovative solution from Čolak's workshop.
Another interesting fact is that Čolak also sells his fries in Egypt, one of the world's largest exporters of potatoes.
Namely, this year the third franchise of Surf'n'Fries was opened in Egypt. Interestingly, Egypt is among the world's largest exporters of potatoes. According to the data OEC, Egypt with over $ 300 million in exports ranks 4th in the world ranking of the largest exporters of potatoes.
And that brings us to an interesting fact or rather a paradox. While we import potatoes from Egypt and other countries, according to the data of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, in 2018 the import of potatoes increased by 50%, Čolak exports Surf n Fries potatoes.
A similar paradox can be stated that some counties in Slavonia boast that they brought a company from Israel to learn how to irrigate Slavonia, instead of the other way around. Kudos to the Israelis for making "Slavonia" out of the desert and exporting products, but when we talk about exporting knowledge, then Slavonia should sell know-how in the context of irrigation for agricultural purposes to Israelis, not the other way around. While the Israelites made Slavonia out of the desert, we made Slavonia a desert. An interesting parallel, isn't it?
This example reminds me, although they are not connected in the same way and it is about other industries, of one of the great achievements of Dr. Davor Pavuna who for the Swedish company Tetra Pak doo thinned the aluminum on the packaging by one micron and thus made the company millions in annual savings. packaging production.
But that's a different story. Let's go back to Colak and his new innovation and product - Surf'n'Fries the first automated machine for making and selling fries
Following the global story of the Surf’n’Fries brand, the whole story expands to automated Vending machine for making and selling potatoes. (Vending machine or vending machine. I honestly don't know how to translate exactly into Croatian, maybe an automated machine that sells food, drinks or cigarettes when a coin, banknote or token is inserted into it)
The first such automated machine for making potatoes in the world has already been set up on the beach in Crikvenica, and in just 35 seconds it will throw out fresh and hot potatoes with sauce. The whole story is only in the test phase, and yet it is the result of many years of thinking and working.
"We have been working on this for three years because there is a big trend in the world of kitchen automation, both due to labor problems and due to the automation of the whole process. We recognized this and of course took everything to a higher level, so we set out to fully automate our entire process. We are looking for a solution to create a "vending machine" that does not require any employees"Points out Colak.
Of course, everything is currently in the test phase, and later more options will be added according to the plan, from more sauce options even to the production of fresh breaded chicken medallions.
"Everything is still in the testing phase and we follow every step of how it works because there are a lot of challenges that we have to solve. The device is currently being tested on Monty's Dog beach in Crikvenica, and will later be installed at the Zagreb railway station and in a shopping center. The biggest advantage is that it works 0/24 so the best locations will be the ones that are open 24 hours. This is a very challenging mechanic, because making french fries within 35 seconds is very difficult to achieve. Also, we have to make sure that the whole complex process works properly, that the french fries do not header, that it withstands all external conditions, etc.… Also, there is our software that is connected to the internet, which allows us to see remotely or from the office all key information. Is it full, empty, does it need to be filled or is something not working, etc.… ” says Colak.
By the way, the whole story is a Croatian product, which is an added value and proof that it is possible to make global competitors products and innovations in Croatia, in spite of everything.
“We already have a lot of interest and inquiries, but first we have to be a million percent sure that the whole story works in every way before we go with this product on the market, so we will not rush to market in the context of sales until everything is 100% tested ” Colak points out.
In fact, these are four innovations from Čolak's laboratory. As I stated: fries, packaging, now also vending manchine, and we should definitely emphasize the innovation through the franchise business model, which was not bought or copied, but the result of Čolak and his team.
Čolak and Surf n Fries are certainly the pioneers of the franchise model in Croatia, especially in the * QSR segment (quick service restaurant franchise ). As Colak himself concludes, that was crucial. “If we didn’t have that innovation as a business franchise model we probably wouldn’t even come close to a new product today and the question of whether we would exist as a Surf n Fries brand”Concludes Čolak.
The Surf'n'Fries Vending machine opens up a totally new business perspective and a new market, as well as a phenomenal extension of the Surf'n'Fries brand. The possibilities are really wide, and the market is all over the world.
I have no doubt at all about the success of Čolak's new business venture, which has so far more than successfully proved that in spite of everything it is possible to make a globally competitive product and tourist export product in Croatia through a franchise model, which is a huge success. It is worth mentioning that Čolak was the co-founder of the world's first smart umbrella Kisha, also a Croatian product, and that a year ago he opened the first franchise consulting agency - CFCG. And Čolak is also responsible for the Croatian application for booking nautical berths - PortHop.
Of course, fries are just the beginning of the story, and to this day, Surf'n'Fries offers a much wider and richer offer, as well as three types of business franchise models. After all, if you haven’t by now, be sure to get acquainted with the story of the global brand Surf'n'Fries.
Now that I am writing this article and listing what Čolak is responsible for, my admiration for this genius who works diligently and shyly under the radar is only growing, but he has achieved very measurable success. And he was just beginning to spread his wings. Imagine bringing together all our geniuses in different sectors and turning our incredible potentials into quality resources.