Scaling Meals crafted by Emerging Chefs

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Show Overview:

Don’t listen to this week’s episode hungry because we have on two delicious guests! That’s right, this week we’re talking to Noobtsaa Philip Vang, the creator of Foodini as well as Elaine Chon-Baker, the founder of Mokja Ventures. You’ll hear more about starting an online restaurant and what anyone investing in hospitality should look for.  

 

About GFGF:

The Get Found Get Funded podcast is at the intersection of entrepreneurship and social justice where we focus on entrepreneurship as a possible path to wealth creation — specifically for Black and Latinx communities.

 

Featured Guest(s): Noobtsaa Philip Vang & Elaine Chon-Baker

 

Noobtsaa Philip Vang left his career in engineering, to move to DC to pursue his MBA at Georgetown University. It was during this transition when he began to work on the idea of Foodhini. An online restaurant that provides undiscovered talented immigrant chefs the opportunity to prepare and sell their unique home recipes to the masses through online delivery and traditional catering. Since beginning operations in October 2016, Foodhini has worked with many different chefs and currently features chefs from Syria, Laos, Eritrea, Iran, and Bangladesh. Foodhini just recently opened their first food stall at Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom DC neighborhood!

 

Elaine Chon-Baker is the Founder and Managing Director of Mokja Ventures, a Washington DC-based boutique venture fund that invests in food entrepreneurs, innovative restaurant concepts, and hospitality tech. She founded Mokja Ventures as a natural outgrowth of her love for eating, drinking, and supporting start-ups and early stage ventures. Coming from the telecom and tech worlds, she immersed herself in learning everything about restaurants in the back office of her first investment. Elaine advises and mentors entrepreneurs in all sectors with launching and growing their businesses. She has been working closely with the James Beard Foundation’s women’s entrepreneurship programs for over two years. Elaine is raising her own creative entrepreneurs – a daughter and two sons who she is continually learning and growing with.

 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Sometimes if you don’t look for investors you won’t grow. Raising money and selling equity is the key to growth. 
  • Listen, analyze and then react. When another person’s money is involved it’s important to be open to the said person’s concerns.   
  • Investors want to see big picture thinking; planning for the future and social impacts that can be made with your brand.     
  • Being willing to fight through all the pain and the problems then you’re not going to be successful.

 

Timestamps:

1:02 – Introduction

3:04 – How they got started 

7:30 – Why food delivery? 

10:10 – How did business school impact the conceptualization of the business?

12:23 – How, when, and why should you start raising money. 

14:00 – How to tell investors what you need and how much money it’ll take 

16:31 – Finding the first and right investor.

24:50 – Changing direction while sticking to your roots. 

28:15 – Finding the right chefs and creating an empowering work environment. 

31:14 – What Elaine looks for before investing.  

34:38 – The risk of the food sector. 

38:03 – Elaine’s advice for Philip.  

42:17 – Using social media and building infrastructure. 

47:50 – Transitioning from quick moving micro goals to slowly building larger scale goals. 

52:07 – Getting women to think outside of the box when it comes to their food businesses.  

54:14 – The impact of the non-alcoholic drink scene.  

57:55 – Finding the strength to keep going through the highs and lows of owning a business. 

 

Items Mentioned in the Show:

seedlipdrinks.com

foodhini.com 

jamesbeard.org 

mokjaventures.com

Quotes from the Show:

  • “When you’re riding a bike and you don't look where you want to go you’re going to crash so... if you’re not thinking ahead, like where we’re going to be in twelve months, then your company might not be around in two months.”
  • “Once you start thinking about fundraising you have to think long term, you have to think strategically, because if you don't then you shouldn’t be raising money.”
  • “We used to just think about Foodhini as this is a place where you can earn a living… support your family, but I think what has really changed is that Foodhini is about creating economic mobility… it’s not just an end point it’s a starting point.”
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