Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brian Lai, Founder of The Only Bean, located in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are on a mission to unlock the potential of beans through innovative food products that are healthy, delicious, and sustainable. Our focus on beans comes from their exceptional nutritional benefits, sustainability, and potential to be implemented into a diverse range of food products. We started our journey with a better-for-you pasta made 100% from beans and recently added Crunchy Roasted Edamame Bean Snacks to our line of healthy bean-based products. Our customers are health and fitness-conscious consumers and retailers.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a first-generation Asian American from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit early while helping my parents run their restaurant. I started my first business when I was 14 and have been a serial entrepreneur.
In 2017, I co-founded The Only Bean with my wife, Kristine Yang, and a family friend who is a Ph.D. food scientist with over 25 years of experience in plant-based food products. Our first product was pasta made 100% from beans, and in 2020, we launched our line of crunchy roasted edamame beans.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It is building a team that shares the same core values and vision. There's always room for improvement, but this has been one of my biggest challenges and accomplishments at the same time.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
We are managing time when there is an infinite amount of opportunity.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- There's no right time to start a business, so start executing now. "Dreams don't work unless you do."
- Start small and fail fast. You won't succeed without failure, and you won't learn without trying.
- Always level up! Keep growing, learning, and moving forward.
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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