Innovation in a Crisis: with Jamie Sciberras from The Biscuit Shop
Husband and wife duo Jamie and Sarina Sciberras, along with their son Joseph, started The Biscuit Shop just 3 years ago. Operating from their customised commercial kitchen in Boolarra, the business began when Jamie wanted to spend more time with his family after seven years of commuting to Melbourne for work.
Being a baker pastry cook, Jamie was passionate about the yo-yo biscuit, and wanted to bring his own flair into this family favourite. It was here that the values of The Biscuit Shop were born: delivering a premium product to communities in a price accessible manner. “We spent 5 years on the development of our yo-yo recipe, and you won’t find it online. In fact, I am yet to discover another recipe that is the same as mine”, says Jamie. “Customers don’t always want the same flavour, and we are unique because we offer 10 different flavours of yo-yo’s”.
Up until 12 months ago, these delicious biscuits were all handmade, which was a unique selling proposition for the business. However, with Jamie undergoing 3 surgeries on his hands, for both carpal tunnel and trigger finger, and the sheer demand for their product in the marketplace, the decision to automate their processes was made.
“Being handmade, we either had to cap our business growth at a certain level, or go to the next level, where the product cannot physically be handmade. The demand for our biscuits was so high, we chose to take things to the next level.”
In light of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Jamie and Sarina saw a 60% drop in wholesale revenues. As their business had been heavily geared towards wholesaling marketplaces, cafes and supermarkets, they had to innovate and think outside of the box to continue operations. Jamie and Sarina circled back to an idea that had been with them from the beginning; to produce DIY yo-yo kits for the consumer market. “We wanted to keep our products accessible to the community through this time, and knew that DIY kits would be enjoyed by both children and parents”, says Jamie.
“In 8 hours, we sold 650 DIY yo-yo kits! We had to put a halt on the influx of orders, but demand keeps rolling in”.
This new product was advertised solely through Facebook and Instagram, and the results speak for themselves. However, in order to meet their wholesale demand and fulfil supermarket orders, Jamie and Sarina had to put a stop on the DIY orders. “We had to make sure we were balancing the workload between our wholesale orders and our DIY kits”, says Jamie. “The kits were a lot of fun for us, and we hope to open up orders again in the near future.”
Jamie and Sarina understand the exciting potential of their DIY yo-yo kits, particularly in supermarkets where premium biscuit kits aren’t widely available. In the coming weeks, they’ll be looking at ways to meet both demands using their existing kitchen.
This husband and wife duo reminds us of the importance of pivoting and adapting in times like this. The Biscuit Shop’s commitment to innovation and willingness to expand their offering presents a great lesson for businesses that are struggling in the current market. “We could sit here and ponder on the negatives (as there are many), but instead of letting that absorb our energy, we should be putting our energy into the areas that we can control”, says Jamie. “Think outside the square! What can you do within your power right now?”
Jamie shares that they looked at the potential solution, instead of the problem. By understanding the impacts to their business, they could develop a product and strategy that could replace their losses in wholesale orders.
Since participating in the 2019 Startup Gippsland Program, Jamie and Sarina have seen a 30% growth in their business, and have secured their first automated machine.
“The knowledge that we learned through Startup Gippsland has been invaluable. If you have the opportunity to get on board with the program, don’t let it slip!” says Jamie.
Applications for the Startup Gippsland Incubator Program are now open.
If you have an idea, or are in the early stages of your business with a goal to scale to both national and international markets, then apply now. Through this tough time, you can innovate!