Author's blurb: I tried 3 different brands of granola for a week a couple of years ago but never got into them thinking they were all too sweet for my taste. While I understand its nutritional value, part of me also wondered how this extremely sweet cereal was considered healthy.
Unlike me, Vivienne Len and her partner, Jiunn Hung didn't give up on cereal that easily and instead wanted to challenge his stigma because it was heavily sugar-filled.
The couple started selling cereal to their friends and family for fun. Slowly they started getting more orders and countless requests for adjustments.
Many of their clients wanted to swap out or remove certain ingredients based on dietary needs and personal preferences, which sparked the idea of starting a customizable cereal business, Granos.
Their early customers also gave feedback on having cereal less sugar-filled, which Vivienne and Jiunn Hung had already planned.
Vivienne and Jiunn Hung at a monthly event called After7 by DUMC church / Image Credit: Granos
"The granolas that you find on the market are traditionally made by coating the entire mix of dry ingredients like oatmeal, nuts and seeds in the form of a sweetener and baking it in the oven."
"For our muesli, we only lightly sweeten our oatmeal to give it flavor, while the remaining ingredients are dry-roasted without sugar, oil or salt," said Vivienne Vulcan Post.
They found that this also helped improve the flavor profile of every ingredient in the cereal.
What can you get?
Vivienne and Jiunn Hung bake these ingredients from home. Vivienne manages Granos full time while Jiunn Hung still has a 9-5 company.
Jiunn Hung helps out where and when he can / Photo credit: Granos
They currently operate entirely as an online shop and haven't sold any major bazaars since they started the business when COVID-19 just broke out.
From now on customers can choose from 12 ingredients with 1 basic taste (honey and cinnamon) or opt for The Classic, a pre-mixed combination.
These ingredients include nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and toppings like corn flakes. To customize an order, customers just need to fill out this Google form.
Those allergic to nuts can opt for nut-free granola, but they don't make nut-free granola in a separate location, Vivienne warned, which can still trigger the allergy in more sensitive consumers.
For festive occasions they offer time-limited seasonal granolas such as the Coconut Gula Melaka Granola and the Maple Pecan Granola.
Both The Classic and Customizable Muesli cost 19.90 RM with a net weight of 250 g. They also offer trail mix at 14.90 RM with a net weight of 125 g.
Their trail mix (left) and seasonal Maple Pecan Granola (right) / Photo credit: Granos
Delivery to any location costs RM 7.50. However, you will get free shipping if your orders are over 60 RM.
In case you are wondering how their prices compare to other local granola brands, their prices have a small difference of RM1-2 for a lot of 250g. What sets Granos apart from other local cereal brands is their customization.
Scouted by big industry names
Since its launch in September 2019, Granos has already served big names such as Shopee, PwC, DHL and Tiffany & Co., the latter of which was their first well-known customer.
"The director was a fan of our granolas and asked if we would like to work with them on their annual Christmas dinner in 2019," said Vivienne.
“We held an interactive muesli jar building station where your customers could customize their own granolas on site. We have also printed out different variations of Christmas labels that we can choose from to make the experience as personal as possible. "
Your first corporate event with Tiffany & Co. / Image Credit: Granos
Since then, they have been approached by bigger names to curate personalized granola gifts for their employees and customers.
Vivienne also said that companies these days are increasingly demanding healthier food options from their employees, which is why the majority of their customers are B2B customers.
However, they definitely want to expand into the B2C market as they have seen a strong retention rate there.
On average, Vivienne earns around 15,000 RM per month and sometimes more during the festive season.
Catering for weddings / Photo credit: Granos
Since looking after corporate customers is one of her greatest sources of income, Vivienne is overwhelmed on a day when she has to order 150 personalized care packages, for example.
Fortunately, she sometimes has help from part-time workers. Since the oven she uses can produce around 20 packets an hour, this means Vivienne has to spend around 7-8 hours baking some days.
Another event by Tiffany & Co. for Raya and a gift box for companies / Image Credit: Granos
Vivienne plans to move out soon and rent a larger kitchen space as more of these inquiries come in.
“Our goal is to open an interactive concept store at some point in which customers can try out different ingredients and even customize their own muesli on site,” Vivienne told Vulcan Post.
However, an immediate goal for 2021 is to reduce their company's carbon footprint and change people's view of waste and single-use packaging, the logistics of which are still ongoing.
Bottom line: As a picky eater and someone who prefers less sugar in their food, what Granos is on offer sounds enticing enough to me to give cereal another chance. Maybe then I can easily see the healthy aspect of this food.
- You can find out more about Granos here.
- You can read other startups that we wrote about here.
Selected image source: Vivienne Len, founder of Granos