Malachi: master of corn
Paddle Popped popcorn has had its fits and starts since Malachi Symonds first started it in 2014.
He went off to boarding school, ran it for two years during a gap year, then went off to college.
“I had a family member doing it for me when I was away, but they all got busy and it fell off,” Mr Symonds said.
Now the 25-year-old is back in Bermuda for good and ready to get things going again.
Mr Symonds’s two popcorn flavours, original and Sefu-Ami (yeast) are popping up in stores all over Bermuda, and Mr Symonds plans to introduce a colourful version, Rainbow Pop, soon.
To add a little quirky charm, Mr Symonds has attached a fun little origin story to each flavour.
Original flavour’s story begins: It was a beautiful summer day when young Xi and his father decided to take a canoe off the North Shore of the island. The story tells how young Xi becomes a “master of corn” and invents Paddle Popped.
“Eventually, I’d like to put a book out,” Mr Symonds said. “I am trying to see if I can do something with the schools. Maybe I could get a student from each school to write a chapter of it.”
It was Mr Symonds’s father, Troy Symonds, chief executive officer of Fort Knox Ltd, who first encouraged him to start Paddle Popped.
“He was trying to give me an introduction to business,” Mr Symonds said. “He thought popcorn was a great idea, because it is a saturated market. There are no monopolies, and you can enter and exit freely. We tried to build a brand and see how it did in Bermuda. We were trying to create brand loyalty and a quality product.”
And Paddle Popped grew and grew, until Mr Symonds was, at one point, selling 700 bags of popcorn a week.
There was just one problem, 150 to 200 bags a week would come back to Mr Symonds because they’d gone stale in their poorly sealed plastic bags.
In 2017, Mr Symonds started selling his wares in vacuum sealed plastic bags complete with a colourful branding. That made all the difference for him.
“It completely changed this for me,” he said. “Now the product stays on the shelf for two to three weeks and it is still fresh.”
And his logo of a little boy in martial arts attire holding a paddle, helps to differentiate the brand from others.
Right now, he is working to build up brand awareness again.
“I’ve been giving out free samples and trying to promote the brand,” Mr Symonds said.
He is also looking at adding other types of snacks to his line up, such as chips made out of local vegetables.
“I really want to support the agricultural side of Bermuda,” he said. “I want to use things grown in Bermuda. It would be all seasonal products. I am trying to figure it out.”
He graduated from Earth University in Costa Rica in December with a Bachelor of Science degree. The programme there taught him a lot about running a business, mostly along agricultural lines.
For one year, he and a team had to run a business. His team sold yoghurt ice cream on campus and actually made a small profit.
“From Costa Rica, I am bringing back everything I learnt about business,” he said. “The financial side of things is very important. I learnt the importance of keeping a catalogue of what enters and exits all the time. That is one of the issues we had while we were selling ice cream. We weren’t registering what we were buying or the weight, or how much was going out.”
Paddle Popped is now available at Luxury Cuts, Linkbda, Mocha Cafe, Buzz, Brown&Co, People’s Pharmacy and LiveNet Bermuda.
For more information see Paddle Popped on Facebook under @paddlepopped and on Instagram @paddlepoppedbda or call 599-4959
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