Let’s say you want to get into the restaurant business. What will you need? Food, a place to make and serve that food, and some customers. Seems easy enough, right? Well each of those things takes time, dedication and a vision to make it a reality. Right now, Fisher students, David Butcher, a second-year marketing major, and Madi Cano, a first year marketing and art major, are well on their way to doing so. David, Cano and David’s cousin, Markie Butcher, are the creators of Flyby, a restaurant concept that looks to bring barbeque into the fast-casual space. David and Cano recount the story of how Flyby spurred from a mere idea to a full-fledged business and see where they want to take their brand in the future.
Flyby began as an idea of David’s, who had quite the entrepreneurial streak in high school and decided to undergo a new venture when he came to Ohio State. After learning about his family’s history as meat butchers in Yugoslavia, hence the last name, David decided to take a look at the restaurant space.
He didn’t always see himself as a restaurateur, as he says “I never really thought I wanted to start a restaurant, but a lot of things just kind of came together and I started to think that everywhere, especially at OSU, there isn’t a modern barbeque concept.”
David went out and asked people what they thought about barbeque; what they like, what they don’t and what’s missing. Eventually, he found out a few things: that people want to know where ingredients come from, they want vegan and vegetarian options and most people just want a sandwich.
David says that’s how they “settled on the concept of all-natural, build-your-own-barbeque sandwiches. It’s basically Chipotle for barbeque.”
After winning several business planning competitions, David had a small amount of seed money to turn his idea into a real business. He began by setting up a landing page and then “started to make some sauces because I knew it was going to be a big part of the business,” he continues, “So I sold like a hundred bottles of sauce that I basically just made in my kitchen.”
Once he found out what worked and what didn’t in terms of the sauce, he decided to host several kitchen takeovers where he “would host a party, set up on a table how the restaurant would feel and look, so you’d go down the line and build a sandwich,” David recalls. These get-togethers gave David a low risk way to show off the food and branding elements of the business, while gauging the public’s interest.
Eventually some of the people who attended those events started asking David to cater events for them and says “that was how we first started actually making money.”
After the catering events started to take off, David started getting the sauces made and packaged in Dayton. With a steady stream of revenue from catering and sauces being sold in stores, David decided it was time to expand the team.
David and Cano met at a Business Builders Club meeting here at Ohio State and after hitting it off, they decided to work together.
As Cano says “I’ve always been interested in the restaurant business. I’ve done everything in the restaurant business with every kind of food except for barbeque and a food truck.”
Eventually they settled in and found their roles in the business, as David describes, “now our roles are as such where Madi’s going to be in kind of a management role. I’m more on the overview side of things…[and] Markie’s going to be the food and product development guy.”
Once the catering had proved itself to be a reliable source of revenue, they decided to take the business to the next level and buy a food truck.
“Now with the food truck we are going to extend the catering and go directly to consumers,” David says, “And test the assumption of let’s say, if we’re next to five other restaurant conceptS, will they still come to us?”
But once they had the truck, a whole new set of challenges had to be overcome. Cano recalls the early steps of getting the truck ready for use, “first you actually get the wrap on and when you get a little bit more money you get the smoker for the inside. Oh but then the smoker is too tall for the truck and you have to figure out how to maneuver that. So it’s just little bits at time.”
David adds, “It’s really convenient to be a student sometimes because you can start to talk to people, but at the same time they don’t always take you very seriously. And this is a slow growing business, so you have to take it one step at a time.”
As it stands, Flyby has currently won over $7,500 through several business planning competitions, proving that people want what they are selling. Having served over 2,000 customers, they’re hoping to use their growing Instagram following, along with the food truck, to expand their customer base even more.
Starting a business is far from easy and doing so while being student makes every challenge that much harder to overcome, but David and Cano are still making it happen. With both the food truck and sauces being sold, David and Cano hope to take Flyby even further with a restaurant eventually, and in turn bringing fully customizable, all natural barbeque to the masses.