12 Dec WeWork Spotlight: Rollin’ n Bowlin’
As our community continues to grow, Launch DFW is on an ongoing mission to introduce you to some of the region’s incredible startups and business innovators. We’ve partnered with Fort Worth-based WeWork ClearFork to spotlight a few of the DFW-based entrepreneurs that call this modern coworking space home.
MEET Rollin’ n Bowlin’
Sophia Karbowski and Austin Patry
Our mission is to spread healthy vibes. We’re Fort Worth’s first food truck dedicated to serving fresh açaí bowls, pitaya bowls, smoothies, and cold-pressed juices.
We made our mission a little generic because healthy vibes mean positive mentality and healthy eating. We’re really trying to put out healthy vibes. We’re starting here in the Fort Worth community and then we will spread from there.
We really want to teach people that they can eat healthily and it can still be delicious and they can get full. That is the root of what we are trying to do.
What was the inspiration to start Rollin’ and Bowlin’?
Austin and I met in class our senior year at TCU, two years ago now. We’re really into healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle. We love cooking as well. We’re big foodies. We were talking about how there’s nothing healthy and quick for TCU students in Fort Worth. There’s nothing close to TCU right off campus that students can go and grab that will fill them up for the rest of the day and keep them energized that was healthy and also tasted really good.
We thought about what we could serve and what we could make. We landed on acai bowls because that was something that was not found in Fort Worth. The majority of out-of-state students at TCU are from California, where these acai bowls are trending and at every corner and coffee shop almost. So our target market was pretty familiar with what we wanted to serve and want it where they and where they go to school. Now they can get it there.
We decided to start small with a food truck so we could start low cost and to make sure it was really something that people were wanting. Right after we graduated from TCU in May 2017, we opened a food truck. We didn’t run it exactly like other food trucks. We were open for six hours every day for a year in one spot, down the street from TCU. We parked right by the gym. It was a pretty good partnership. It was almost like a little restaurant people would come to us and get the acai bowls.
Our goal was always to open a brick and mortar within one year running the food truck. We wanted to do the truck for a little bit to gain brand awareness. This past August, we actually opened our first store on campus at TCU inside of the rec center. We are able to get really close to our first target market now, and we are able to serve them really conveniently.
We are opening our second location, Crockett Row on West 7th street in Fort Worth, on December 7.
What food offerings do you provide?
We are a health food cafe/restaurant. We serve acai bowls, smoothies, juices, and loaded toast. We have a couple of catering options. We used to have an option involving the food truck, but we are actually trying to sell it right now.
Now we have a topping station option where it is interactive. We come with freshly made blends and then we set up the topping station. Everyone can put on their own toppings with granola and strawberries and kiwi and chia seeds. We can do that kind of interactive type catering event. We can do a drop-off.
We do offer to consult young foodie entrepreneurs like us. We do this to help them grow their business because we’ve been through the same process. Starting is the hardest part.
What makes your startup different from your competitors?
To backtrack, we actually purchased the food truck with Bitcoin. We accepted Bitcoin as a payment for quite some time. Now that we’re working with the university and we’re under their payment processing we don’t.
As far as being foodies in general, we’ve been trying to make our acai bowls with the least amount of sugar as possible without sacrificing taste. There are a lot of acai bowl places that deem themselves healthy and a lot of people think that they’re healthy, but they’re using sweetened acai and unnecessarily sweetened product. Everything that we have is all natural. Our acai is pure, unsweetened acai. We try and make everything with that sugar content in mind.
We have this philosophy that if we’re not going to eat it, then we’re not going to serve it. We eat pretty healthily ourselves. We try to eat all natural, wholesome foods. If it’s not something that we would go to a restaurant to order, we don’t like to have it on our menus.
Any interesting partnerships or collaborations?
There are a couple of different TCU entrepreneurs that we’re working with. One of them is creating cool brew. We’re going to be selling their cold brew from our store. Another one is doing banana bread. Those will be some really cool TCU student partnerships.
We also have a handful of local partnerships. Our granola is made special for us. The recipe was created for Rollin’ and Bowlin’ at an organic dairy farm in Mineola, Texas called the Waldo Way Dairy Farm. It’s all natural, wholesome ingredients. It is gluten free and nut free, so we are able to use it in all of our bowls to serve people with dietary restrictions. They make it on their farm and deliver it to us. We add sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
We are actually partnered with a third party company called Sodexo. They’re one of the biggest food operators in the world. They partner with a lot of different companies and they do a lot of food operations for different college campuses. That could be a way that we can grow and scale.
More recently there’s a nonprofit company here in Fort Worth called Rising Tide Initiative. They have this contest for about 10 to 15 different companies in the DFW area. They want to really foster entrepreneurship in the area and they really want to expand entrepreneurship. We were one of the companies that were chosen. They gave us free office space at WeWork ClearFork location here in Fort Worth. It is for six months and they’re providing us with mentoring and a couple of other things, kind of like an accelerator program. We are meeting a couple of days a week and they’re telling us to read a book and talk about it to really improve our business skills. It’s really cool. We’re trying to do a lot with a lot of different people. So it’s a lot of fun.
What can we expect from Rollin’ and Bowlin’?
We do take it one step at a time. We are about to open our second store in Fort Worth.
Short term we’re starting to look into opening a store in Dallas. We’re not exactly sure where or what route we’re going to take, but we know we want to open a store in Dallas. We’re going to spread throughout Texas.
We might want to open in Sophia’s hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois. They could really use something like this. We want to start opening a few more stores where there’s a lack of healthy options.
Our long-term goal is to start franchising and just keep growing.
Your thoughts on the DFW business community?
Fort Worth is a really good place to start a business. It is a big city, but there’s a sense of community and a lot of people around here are willing to help other businesses. They really want to see local businesses grow.
From the entrepreneurial side, there’s a lot of events happening every single day. It seems like you can just go online and search for something. It’s happening a lot more often here in Fort Worth. For the longest time, you always had to travel Dallas for these events, but Fort Worth now is becoming the 15th biggest city in the country. They’re really starting to take themselves more seriously and entrepreneurship more seriously here. It’s really fun as an entrepreneur.
From the corporate side, obviously, DFW is a huge booming place, especially right now. A lot of corporations seem to be moving here. There are so many opportunities here. I’m actually from Dallas and I grew up here. I’ve seen a lot of companies moving here and a lot of companies growing here.
Anything else Launch DFW readers should know about Rollin’ and Bowlin’?
Outside of running a health food cafe, we’re both very entrepreneurial. We really try to instill that within the company. At TCU we like to hire primarily TCU students. That’s our model when we’re talking to universities. We want to foster entrepreneurship on campus with students. We want to be actively involved with young entrepreneurs so that we can help them. We made a lot of mistakes, and we’ve seen the process but we’re still young ourselves. We want to help others get started.