IYO Burgers


Say hello to IYO—the first self initiated company for Mensch.club. Intent on empowering people to make ethical food choices without the guilt, we bootstrapped IYO from infancy to a 3-store chain awarded as ‘The Best Burger in the Western Cape. And yes—we can still make the burgers.

Inside-Out Burgers

IYO was founded at a time when many western cultures were starting to ask questions of big food and where their food really comes from. In South Africa, these questions were starting to be asked, but access to ethical foods was less than optimal, and the conversation was riddled with finger-pointing and doomsaying about the end of the world. We created a brand stacked with positivity and purpose revolving around the glorious possibilities of real food, that championed the local farmers who make it. The idea at the center of IYO was ‘Good On The Inside.’ The logic: the food industry spends billions making products look better, and cheaper to produce, usually at the expense of health and ethical food suppliers who make real, healthy food. ‘Good on the inside’ is a reminder to foodies that for food to be delicious and healthy and good we need to only put the best stuff in. We developed an origin story about ‘two dudes on a farmish mission’—the founders—who only put the best stuff in. 

Though we took it a step further. The burger was chosen as our product; because we wanted something ubiquitous, something friendly, something people loved, to lighten the conversation around eating ethically. But ubiquity is a two-sided coin: the flip side of the burger's broad appeal is that we had no shortage of competitors. To really stand out and give people something specific to remember us by and talk about, we extended ‘Good On The Inside’ to our product, by pioneering the inside-out burger, where cheese and other tasties lived in the middle of the patty. 

We created a corporate identity in collaboration with blck95 consisting of a logo, color palette, fonts, typography rules and our four ethos pillars.

Branders and marketers ourselves, we created a website, all necessary design collateral,  multiple menus for multiple use cases, and designed our market stalls, brick n’ mortar stores and staff uniforms. We directed the brand shoots. We built a brand image that was youth gul, warm, human; and for an organic food brand, fittingly rustic. It.


At the start, we determined a launch strategy that would create awareness and hype. We wanted to get the product into the right people’s hands and build an initial following behind the brand’s messages and purpose.  The main ingredient at launch was strategizing our burger pop-up experience: The IYO Burger Stall. We appeared at key markets and events with a branded mobile stall. We fed people and engaged them over our brand values and the issue spaces we inhabited. We drove them to follow us on social media—the other key ingredient at this early stage—where we let them know where to find us next, pushed our eco-messages and advertised our product beautifully. 

While running our pop-up experience and chronicling the journey on social media, we built out a brand strategy, alongside a business proposal, to take our big next step: The first brick n’ Mortar IYO Burger bar. We pitched the proposal to relevant investor circles. Once we had fundraised enough (+- 150,000 USD) we started building. We then began to develop the marketing strategy, alongside an expanded product range,  that made it a resounding success. 

We determined a brand and marketing mix that got people through the door on day 1. First, at our markets, we hyped up the customer base we already had to ‘save their seat’ and spread the word. We gave them loyalty cards that were redeemable at the markets or at the upcoming restaurant. We built a hyper creative PR strategy that included a special ‘Origami Burger’ media drop and invited national media to a curated media launch. We got in touch with organizations and people in our issue area for meaningful partnerships and collaborations. Likely our favorite collaboration was being given the space to grow our burger bar’s veggies at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market. This was both an incredible food experience and marketing tool. We posted like mad, giving people the inside view of our unraveling journey.


IYO Burgers saw incredible success at each stage of business. We started with 50 seats. We had lines down a flight of stairs and out of the door waiting for spots for the first month. We were covered by every local and national newspaper. We won the Eat-out Mercedes Benz best burger in The Western Cape award. Jonah was invited to speak at Tedx and a slew of other sustainability and conscious business conferences. We were featured on Top Billing. Through the first year, we had long dinner waiting times. In our second year, we expanded to 120 seats, adding a bar, the IYO BARger.

We were covered by Brent Owens, winner of Australian Masterchef, on his show on the Discovery Channel. We cemented our place amongst the top rated restaurants in South Africa. We built a passionate following online. We built a brand people loved and showed them that eating ethical, and living an ethical lifestyle, didn’t have to be so difficult. Our one restaurant eventually turned into two. When Uber Eats became a big thing, we started doing deliveries, building a booming delivery business too.