Established in Fort Lauderdale, Florida since 2015, Island Vibez Grill is a food truck owned and operated by Joyce and Yves Francois. With persistence and with their delicious recipes, they’re establishing a strong business and fulfilling their dream. They are also the third-place winner in this round of Nav’s Small Business Grant. They took the time to answer some questions about their business for Nav.
Why did you start the company?
We started our company because we wanted to follow our passion. We both love to cook, and our cooking made people happy. That’s our motto: “Good friends, good food, good Vibez.”
What makes your business unique/different?
What sets us apart from regular food trucks/trailers is that we offer great American Caribbean cuisines as well as decadent desserts. Our Caribbean chicken Philly cheese, Hennessy honey garlic wings and our liquor infused desserts set us apart from the regulars.
What do you love most about your business/having your own business?
We love the art of cooking and creating something new, we also love meeting new people and making them happy with our food creations.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the company?
Great question, the fun part of having a business is taking on the many challenges that come up. But, getting through it is what makes entrepreneurs different from everyone else. There is no step-by-step guidebook and in the end the challenges make you a better business owner.
What’s the biggest challenge your business is currently facing?
Right now, there are a lot of new changes to south Florida’s food truck rules. Many smaller cities within a county require that your food truck go through their city inspection, even if you have passed the state and county inspection. These new licenses and permits require a fee, which another added on expense we are not prepared for.
How did you get the money to start the company?
We went to many banks that told us no, funding a food truck is not profitable. We did a lot of searching for companies that build food trucks and asked them how we can get funding to build one. Most of them told us to find a bank that would fund us. We found a food truck company in Orlando, Florida that had a financing company. We applied and got approved.
How do you manage cash flow in the company?
We monitor our cash flow ourselves, we also take advice from our banker and accountant.
Have you used any form of financing (credit card, line of credit, business loan, etc.) for your business?
Yes, once we were approved for the business loan we began the build of our custom trailer.
How will you be using the prize money from Nav?
The prize money from Nav will be used to pay for licenses and permits we need in order to do events around south Florida.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the company?
When customers let us know how great their food was, how our cake was the talk of the party and how much their loved ones adored their custom gifts.
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting the company?
Not being confident in the process of being self-employed. It’s scary but once you put your all into to your business it will succeed.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were first starting out?
Never giving up was the best thing we could have ever done. No matter how many banks told us no, no matter how many people doubted our dream, we never gave up on it.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Its going to be hard at times, you will have bad days but never let your failures detour you from the bigger picture.
What’s next for your business?
The next step will be to book bigger events and start branding and advertising more.
What could your business do with $10,000? Check out Nav's Small Business Grant now to find out how your business could win interest-free financing.