It's all in the family for the entrepreneurs behind D.O.U.G.H.

Having an adventurous, go-getter spirit can help take a business far, according to Darrel Rose, Pretoria regional investment manager for Business Partners, a business loan and equity provider.

For him, one of the company's clients, catering company D.O.U.G.H. is a good example. It is owned and run by siblings Chani Maré and Dylan Maré, together with Dylan's wife, Mariëtte. The Pretoria-based business grew organically from their shared sense of adventure, the say.

The trio's entrepreneurial journey began when they managed luxury yachts in the Caribbean in their youth, spurred by a love for nature and the outdoors. Although they worked as salaried employees, they were virtually running their own businesses - managing and running the yachts as floating guest houses, wearing many hats - including that of skipper, host and chef.
 
After returning to South Africa, it wasn't long before Chani, Dylan and Mariëtte decided to join forces to create one official business, which led to securing their first formal industrial premises.

"We all tried our hand at a few things when we were younger, then ended up sailing the Caribbean and Mediterranean together. We've stuck together through all kinds of trials and tribulations and each of us naturally found our niche in the family business," Mariëtte tells Fin24.

'Pie in the sky'

"We have all been involved in the food and service industry in one way or another from a very young age. Returning to SA, we just knew that this was the direction we were going to have to go. We also knew that we didn't want to have a normal restaurant again. Catering needed hardly any capital to kick off and we felt that there was a need for real, fresh, quality food in a sausage roll-saturated industry."

In 2016, they won the bid to run the staff canteen for the King Price head office in Pretoria, which not only offered an additional income stream, but would double as a venue for hosting parties and events.

However, in order to kit out the venue, the Maré family had to raise more than R1 million and bank finance would not have been enough. This is when Business Partners stepped in to lend the capital required for the venture, which they named Moonshot.
 
Today, Moonshot is thriving, with 80% of its revenue coming from night-time and weekend events hosted there. Chani attributes a major part of their success to their strength as a team.

While Mariëtte oversees the finance and administrative side of the business, Chani runs menu development and the catering operations of Moonshot, and Dylan manages the spit-braai operations and events.

"We never spent a large amount of money on a 'pie in the sky'. We took it in baby steps. We grew and every growth spurt was exhilarating. It kept us excited and challenged to push as hard as we could. It still does," she says.

That is why her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to "be gentle on yourself and take it easy. Small steps or you might get burnt".
 
A possible next step for the three business owners is to acquire their own events venue.

"We'll see what comes our way...but for now we plan to just drive what we have as hard as we can," she says.

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