Love for business is always in the air at Home Grown, but the countdown to Valentine’s Day is on and we’ve decided to celebrate a little differently.
“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the palate” – Cedric Shakespeare
On Tuesday 21 February at 6:30pm (save the date!), Home Grown members and couplepreneurs Evelyn and Chris Hsu will bring their brand, Kung Fu Mama, to the table with a Taiwan-inspired three course menu – much better than chocolate.
We wanted to know how they’ve managed to be so successful in both their married and their entrepreneurial life. Believers in not mixing business with pleasure, beware! Chris and Evelyn’s story might change your minds.
Evelyn and Chris’s poise immediately speaks for their attitude to business: gallant, yet straight to the point. We begin with an easy question – How was Kung Fu Mama born? “Chris and I met straight out of uni and started selling noodles online. We ended up opening four restaurants, but that was exhausting, so we looked into ambient products. We started selling noodles in Taiwanese supermarkets, expanded in Hong Kong, and finally moved to the UK three years ago.” Now, they are the best-selling Taiwanese noodles brand in the UK.
We take this chance to ask what main challenges did the couple faced when first trying to break in the UK market. “Lots of them. Cultural differences, finding the right marketing strategy. And taste. When we started, people were mostly familiar with instant noodles, whereas our noodles must be cooked just like pasta. So, we worked with a recipe creator on recipes that people would be more willing to try.” We at Home Grown certainly are! Which is why we want to know more about the noodles themselves. “We sell sun-dried noodles made from wheat, natural, additive free, and hand made. They form part of Taiwan’s tradition – South Taiwan, to be precise, where it gets very hot in the sun,” says Chris.
But noodles, Chris cares to clarify, is not all Kung Fu Mama is about. “We are focused on healthy food. Plus, we are trying to minimise the harm to the planet, and we are happy sacrificing part of our profit while trying to achieve that goal – which is why our new packaging won’t be made with plastic, but with NatureFlex.” Now, that’s inspiring. But onto the juicy stuff. Nothing says romance like doing everything together – or does it? We ask our favourite power couple how they manage to keep the spark alive. “When doing business as a couple, you’ll always have fights,” says Evelyn, “A good way to avoid that is by keeping departments separate. I do sales and marketing, whereas Chris deals with the R & P side of the business, and we try not to talk too much about work outside of working hours. We’ve even created a separate WhatsApp group for everything: one for private stuff, one for the girls and one for business. So, if I’m angry at him…” We conclude the sentence for her: “You go to all five chats!”
Our next question risks triggering a different type of argument: who’s the best cook? Evelyn points to her husband. “Chris, a hundred percent. I can only do a couple of recipes and have little time to cook anyway. That’s exactly who Kung Fu Mama targets: very busy people wanting to eat well and healthy.” Going back to business, we ask them how Home Grown helped them grow Kung Fu Mama. “At Home Grown we can connect with and get advice from entrepreneurs and founders. Our favourite event is the Million Pound Menu dinner series, where members get the chance to hear from esteemed global investors, which we’ve found incredibly creative and productive – we’ve already been back twice!” says Chris. “Perhaps most important was our meeting with Chris White, founder and director of This Way Up, at Home Grown’s Cereal Entrepreneurs event.
We wanted Kung Fu Mama to appeal to a more mainstream UK market and Chris did an excellent job at rebranding.” Our date with couplepreneurs Evelyn and Chris is almost over and we’ve been aching to know: where is Kung Fu Mama headed in the next 5 to 6 years? Chris answers this one: “We are looking forward to expanding our market here and globally. This year we’ll try and make a 3 million pounds turnover. Over the next 5 years, we can hopefully reach 100 million pounds.”
The business of love is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
If you’re interested in enriching your entrepreneurial experience and finding a strong community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders then contact our membership team at Home Grown.