In October 2013, four young people who were passionate about the culinary business agreed to set up a restaurant called ‘Nasi Goreng Mafia’. The four aspiring were Danis Puntoadi, Stefi Kurniadi, Sarita Sutedja and Rex Marindo. With only Rp 100 million, Rex and his colleagues sacrificed their marketing consulting business and pivoted to sell fried rice. However, Rex’s path in the culinary field was not smooth. In the first months, the turnover was only in the hundreds of thousands of rupiah.

Amidst the turmoil, Rex and his team decided to survive whatever obstacles they would encounter. In order to achieve the company’s mission of becoming a local food chain that was able to bring consumer happiness through the experience of eating food in every outlet, Rex and the team decided to update their culinary concept.

Starting from team observations, Rex and his team saw there was a gap in the market for Millennials, particularly students. Their needs included cozy hangout places with affordable prices, big portion sizes, ‘Instagrammable’ locations and the provision of Wi-Fi and power outlets.

 “We realized that instant foods were commonly eaten, then we thought how to give a ‘twist’ in order to differentiate our brands and products from similar products. Therefore, we provide unique sensations for every brand that we have”, explained Sasa, (Sarita’s nickname)

To support the idea, Rex explored and observed various regions in Indonesia. From here, Rex and his team developed the idea of running a culinary business while raising the value of local staple foods; this is when the concept of Warunk UpNormal came into existence. A flurry of new questions appeared; is this the right innovation? How long can they survive?