Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Manville Chan, Founder of The Story of Ramen, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is built upon offering ramen cooking classes as group events. Our main customer base includes major tech companies organizing offsite team-building events. We also open up our events to consumers on weekends — couple nights out or celebrating special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Our biggest customers are Genetech, Google, LinkedIn, Uber, Meta, Workday, and Cruise Automation.
Tell us about yourself
Prior to starting my own business, I was a tech product manager for 15+ years. I've always loved cooking, especially bringing people together via food. I came up with the concept of this business about 5-6 years ago as a part-time gig while still at my full-time tech job. It got so popular that I eventually decided to launch this as a business. What motivates me each day is seeing how happy our customers are in our classes and how people are connected via making food together.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The entire business was bootstrapped. We started the business without any loans. And our business has become profitable since day one. We survived the pandemic by pivoting to online cooking classes, and our revenue and customer base actually grew during that period.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is to figure out how to scale the business through hiring and training, i.e., finding the right person that we can trust to work with us. We have been very successful in our home base in San Francisco. Our customers think we can expand and duplicate our success in other cities. But because of the challenge in hiring/training, we're still unable to expand geographically.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not think that starting a business means you have more free time. It's actually much more work than most people think.
- Learn to be agile - start with a new project/initiative, small initially, then scale it when it becomes successful.
- Start first with good bookkeeping and figure out a way to keep track of your revenues and expense (such as using Quickbook or Google Sheets).
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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