In the past five years, we have seen a lot of different food-related start-ups coming to Hong Kong such as Deliveroo, Foodpanda, Chope and The Entertainer. Those with funding behind them have arrived in Hong Kong to conquer the market. Others, usually local start-ups, struggle and try to survive day by day.
Foodie is also a start-up. That's why I'm always interested to learn more about other start-up founders, to find out how they mentally prepare themselves.
Man Cha Teas founder Sam comes from the UK and grew up drinking 'builder’s tea' everyday. Once in Asia, he was astounded that the same plant, camellia sinensis, produced from many different countries in a variety of ways can create such a plethora of complex tastes and scents. That's the inspiration behind Man Cha.
So what are the secrets behind Man Cha's success in this competitive market for the past three years?
Love your product
You must sincerely and passionately love your product. Starting your own business, you are also the only salesperson this company has. You can't sell your product unless you trust and love it.
Must be something different
Sell a food or product that is different. It can be a from a competitive category, but what gives it the edge? For example, you could sell pasta like many other restaurants do in Hong Kong, but you could also sell pasta that is freshly made or using a unique recipe that is from a lesser-known Italian region.
1,000 true fans
Get them and you will survive. Treat them like your best friend or your family. Once you have locked down your true fans, you will have locked down your product and exactly why these fans buy from you.
Keep an eye on all expenses
Get at least three quotes from different suppliers or manufacturers for everything you buy. Test, test and taste. Don't always go for the cheapest quote because sometimes the quality is not there.
More than money
There has to be another factor other than money that drives you to do your business. For Man Cha, it is to supply hand-sourced teas from around Asia but also to provide education to children in Hong Kong's low-income areas.
If you are involved in a start-up or are planning one, share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.