Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marc Seah, Co-Founder of Tochi Snacks, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Tochi is a family-founded brand with a mission to reimagine everyone's favorite snacks with nutritious ingredients and Asian-inspired flavors. We bring hyperlocal and authentic flavors from Asia to the US. Our customers are anyone who has been to Asia and miss the vibrant flavors they discovered or anyone who has never gotten the chance to, but want to explore what Asia has to offer. Our customers are explorers, adventurers, and people who take snacking seriously!
Tell us about yourself
Like many first-generation immigrants, I grew up straddling two 'homes' - the one in which I was raised in and the one I had to assimilate into. Having never felt truly comfortable in either, I had no way to process the duality of that experience except through food. Food was a way for me to share a common experience with extended family in Asia, but also newfound friends in America. From gathering around my grandmother's cooking back home to bringing these flavors to my friends here in America at gatherings, food was the medium that connected it all for me.
Tochi is the place where my two homes meet. It's a space that understands the duality of the diaspora experience and reflects the values of the people who live in it. Through our snacks, I want to allow everyone to experience Asian culture through the promise of connection, comfort, and ease. There's no recipes to follow and no fancy ingredients to buy; it's as simple as opening up a bag of our snacks! In the same way that Asian food connected my worlds, I want to connect yours with Tochi, and this is what excites me every day!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Very early on in our business, when we barely had any traction, I saw that the founder of our dream retail partner with 16 stores nationwide was going to be in town as a speaker at a panel. I decided to head down and pitched him Shark Tank-style in the networking session after with an audience. Being suddenly put on the spot definitely had its challenges and was such a thrill, but today, we proudly count them as one of our biggest and oldest partners, with the founder also a personal mentor.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
As a small business owner, resource management has always been a challenge. Not just financial resources but also time and effort. There's no step-by-step playbook that you can apply, and navigating the current economic landscape with all this adds another layer of complexity. A good example of this has been the stubborn inflationary environment that has had pretty much all businesses see an increase in costs across the board. The 2020 pandemic also threw all plans out the window as global supply chains were crushed. Identifying the right course of action and executing it given a changing environment and set of problems is key to establishing a successful business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't give up.
- Find a good community of founders.
- Be cognizant of profitability vs. growth.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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