a man in an apron is holding a sandwich on a cutting board

Bens ‘N Buns:
the art of
the ultimate sandwich

Benji Korver was a Makeup Artist alongside his studies, but due to COVID-19, he suddenly found himself without an income. Fortunately, he quickly found work in catering, initially thinking it would be temporary, just until the end of his studies.

Benji: "But when I finished my Communication/Marketing degree, I realized I didn't want to work in that world at all, I absolutely didn't want an office job! Working for a boss didn't appeal to me either, so I had to start something on my own. I felt deep down that it really had to be done."

In his quest to set up his first business, he first had to figure out what truly excited him: what did he really love to do? By then, Benji had gained quite a bit of experience in the catering world and, being honest with himself, he knew where his passion lay. Benji: "When I was once again in the kitchen making a sandwich, it clicked: this is actually what I enjoy doing the most! I have always enjoyed cooking. My catering job taught me a lot in practice, not just preparing and serving food and drinks, but also dealing with inventory and purchasing from wholesalers." It wasn't just cooking that fascinated him, but also the complexity of business operations. This practical experience, combined with his recently completed studies and his natural flair for marketing, formed an excellent foundation for what was to come.

“When I was making a sandwich, it hit me: this is actually what I enjoy doing the most!”

a person is sprinkling pepper on a sandwich on a cutting board .

Tokyo Style Carpaccio

After a month of thinking and preparing, Benji was ready to start: a sandwich delivery service: Bens ’n Buns. From the very beginning, Benji was very clear: "Everything about my brand must be a different experience than what you normally get." The concept was simple but revolutionary: fill the gap in the market between low-end and high-end sandwich shops by delivering exceptional quality at an accessible price. Benji's vision extended to every aspect of his business, from the unique preparation methods to personal branding. It all started with the creation of the food itself: Bens ‘n buns offers a few classic sandwiches on the menu, but with a twist. For example, he transformed the traditional carpaccio sandwich into the ‘Tokyo Style Carpaccio’: fried shallots and green onions, marinated in ginger, add a sweet, crunchy bite to the tender beef carpaccio. Customers regularly let him know they’ve had ‘the best sandwich ever'. Benji: "That’s the ultimate confirmation of my work, and those kinds of compliments never get old!".

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“Everything about my brand must be a different experience than what you normally get.”

a man in an apron is holding a sandwich in his hand .

Growth Story on Tiktok

From the start, there were always challenges. Since Benji doesn't have a driver's license, he often has to bike many times to the wholesaler, and he had to overcome his fear of self-promotion, Benji: "I suffered from 'post shame' on social media; I found it embarrassing to promote myself all the time. But the impact is really big, so I had to do it." His natural flair for marketing and strategic use of social media have helped him immensely. Benji's approach here is authentic: he shares his growth story on TikTok (not so much his products themselves), reaching tens of thousands of people and greatly enhancing Bens ‘n Buns brand awareness. "I want people to follow my entire growth journey within the company, people love to see that. I show everything, from the beginning to the end. This generates a lot of interaction, sometimes I also get criticism, but I don't mind that." For product-focused content, he uses his Instagram account. This deliberate division in social media use has been very successful for Bens ‘n Buns. Offline, Benji has his own approach as well. For instance, his aesthetically designed flyers, distributed at large offices, caught attention and opened doors that would otherwise remain closed. Benji: "Because the flyers are so beautiful, people are less likely to throw them away. That's better for the environment, increases the circulation per flyer, and thereby my revenue." Additionally, he sometimes organizes a free tasting for potentially big clients, which has worked well so far.

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“I was embarrassed to promote myself all the time. But the impact is really big, so I had to do it.”

a man in an apron is preparing food in a kitchen .

Vev - the missing link

Benji's introduction to Vev was nothing short of a revelation. "It was as if the last pieces of a complex puzzle fell into place," he explains. The user-friendliness of the system was unparalleled; it allowed Benji to present his brand with professional flair, something customers often mistook for custom work. "Everyone thinks it's my own site and it instantly looks very professional," he laughs. But Vev goes beyond just an aesthetic match. Features such as the variety of payment options and the daily overview quickly became indispensable for business operations. Benji can view the orders for the day, manage finances, and even maintain an overview during the busy kitchen hours with just a few clicks. The QR code functionality turned out to be a special asset, especially during events or at pop-up locations, making it effortless for customers to order. "The Vev app is always open on my tablet in the kitchen; it's like Vev has become a silent, but highly efficient partner in my business," notes Benji. This technological foundation has not only helped him overcome operational challenges but also to build and maintain a deeper connection with his customers.

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“The Vev app is always open on my tablet in the kitchen; Vev is a silent, but highly efficient partner in my business”

a man is making a sandwich on a wooden cutting board .

Pop-ups, Franchising, and AI

His vision for Bens 'n Buns is promising. "I see a future where Bens 'n Buns is not just a concept in my city, but in many other cities." He is considering franchising as a way to share his unique approach to quality sandwiches and customer service with a wider audience. In the short term, there are plans for pop-up events in other cities. These temporary establishments not only strengthen the brand but also serve as a valuable ‘test kitchen’, Benji: "Each city has its own taste and preferences. These pop-ups will provide valuable insights and help refine our menus and services further." Furthermore, Benji continues to innovate in product development, utilizing both traditional culinary techniques and modern technologies such as AI to discover new, surprising flavor combinations. "The possibilities are endless," he says, referring to his use of AI for inspiration for sandwich combinations, "Chat GPT suggested, for example, that the combination of asparagus on salmon and the combination aged cheese and zucchini might work." This blend of creativity and technology is what continues to distinguish Bens 'n Buns in a saturated market. With a clear vision for the future and a solid foundation in the present, Benji's culinary journey is just beginning.

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“ChatGPT made a combination of asparagus on salmon with cheese and zucchini”

a row of sandwiches with different toppings on a wooden table .

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