We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael and Chih and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael and Chih, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
It has been over a year since we began our adventure into the world of dumplings. Our journey to follow our dream and build our own business from scratch has been exciting, scary, and rewarding beyond belief. If we had to pick out the most important factor in our success, it would definitely be agility. Here are two short examples of how we applied agility and pivoted in our business model. We began with a small class of six when we first open the doors of DD. Soon after, we were contacted by an individual who asked if we could travel with our operation. We said,” Sure, that sounds fun! How many?” The answer that came, blew us away. 35… people! After we caught our breath, we said we’d be there! Thus, Dumplings-To-Go was born, and the event was a huge success. The second time, we were forced to pivot due to COVID. March 2020, we were going into our biggest month yet. We were a team of 4 at the time and had started production for several outdoor events. When Houston shut down, we had stores of dumplings we needed to unload. Over the weekend we created a pickup webpage and opened up Dumpling Dudez contactless dumpling pickup. We started with about 60-80 dozen a week and are have reached up to 150 dozen at our max week and hired 2 more employees. In closing being agile has allowed us to take advantage when opportunity knocks. In addition, agility can take a seemingly out of control situation (COVID) and turn it into an opportunity. In addition to the financial gain and staying in business, being agile has helped us to expand our reach, and allow us to meet each client in person when they come to pick up their dumplings.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At first glance, most people would assume that we are a food start-up, but we consider ourselves to be an experience start-up. We never set out to make the most delicious dumpling on the market, but rather a fun and unique experience where people could create colorful dumpling art (from traditional folds to baby yoda, longhorn, fish, and anything you can think of ) that they could eat. The Dumpling Experience starts with appetizer dumplings and a class introduction. Following, we provide all the means so each person can make a batch of colorful dough. We teach…In addition, we provide multiple fillings depending on dietary restrictions. We take videos, photos, boomerangs with our professional lighting kits. Next, we teach how to cook and sauce pair the dumplings. Lastly, we all eat together and enjoy our little creations. At the end of the day, people love our dumplings not only because they are delicious, but its also fun, unique, and full of creativity and passion. Looking forward, now with COVID restrictions, we are excited to be introducing our Virtual Dumpling experience (Sept 2020). In addition, we have begun working with local breweries for virtual pairing events. It is more important to support local business now more than ever, and we love supporting the community. We both have very strong process engineering and marketing backgrounds, respectively. Having these backgrounds has helped immensely especially in the early days. While Chih worked on building brand recognition, Mike worked on the procedural requirements for the execution of events and production. Was it easy? That is a tricky question. We enjoyed the work so much that it was always fun, new, and exciting. Here are the top 5 lessons we would like to share with others from our entrepreneurial journey. 1. The entrepreneurial journey is never going to be easy! It is ok to have self-doubt and feel defeated at times. You will only grow when you feel uncomfortable! Embrace the growing pangs! 2. Make new friends, not new customers! You are going to meet the most amazing people on this journey. We are so blessed to have met so many wonderful friends and supporters. Cherish and love the people around you! 3. Not everyone will like you, and that’s ok! Life is too short for not being yourself! As a pop and pop start-up, we receive a few negative messages simply because of who we are. But for every one negative message, there are hundreds of positive messages. When they go low, you go high! 4. Just do it! There is no perfect moment to launch your new business or products. In fact, it is just like taking an exam, you will never feel like you are ready! Believe in yourself and keep trying! 5. Celebrate love and help others when you can. We will not be where we are today without the support of so many wonderful people. Business comes and goes but friendship and personal connection last forever
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our favorite outdoor space is Discovery Green Downtown. They have free outdoor classes and different activities every weekend. We would also recommend that the natural science museum for both kids and adults.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
People Veronica Rademacher from Vital Kitchen Chelsea Sargent Lira from Houston Grazing Table Chad Mercer from AChadChoice Organization OutSmart Magazine Houston Life TV Outreach United