When founder and CEO of Sour Sally Group (SSG) Donny Pramono was told that his frozen yogurt business couldn’t be helped because its hype had faded, Donny didn’t want to accept that reason blindly. Instead, he tried to refine his understanding of the food and beverages (F&B) business to determine the underlying cause. His passion and persistence led his company to head multiple brands popular among young consumers today, with over 250 outlets and counting spread across the country.
Donny was pursuing his MBA in marketing at the University of La Verne in Los Angeles when he began to grow his love of frozen yogurt. The idea of starting its business in Indonesia crossed his mind, so after his graduation in summer 2007, he worked at a favorite frozen yogurt store for three months to learn the operations. He then went to Jakarta to build his own frozen yogurt brand.
Being his first business, Donny faced many challenges in the beginning. Aside from the fact that he had a lot to learn, Donny wasn’t familiar with Jakarta. His parents came from Sulawesi while Donny spent his time growing up in Surabaya, East Java. At the time, he hadn’t visited the capital city in the last nine years. Moreover, frozen yogurt wasn’t popular in Indonesia back then, so as the pioneer, he had to break through the market. Finally, in May 2008, Donny opened his first frozen yogurt store at Senayan City, named Sour Sally (PT Berjaya Sally Ceria).
Sour Sally quickly became popular. Donny says that one outlet could sell 700–1,000 cups a day back then, and it took only six months for the first store to reach its breakeven point. However, the hype didn’t last forever. Sales began to drop two years into the business, and by 2011 it had debt accumulated up to Rp 7 billion. Facing his first crisis, he started to question why his business had been going downhill.
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