So, I had an idea to make soup! It was an all-consuming, dream-invading, possessed-like-the-devil undertaking. I had my family's recipes and an instinct that other people would like it, but I had never had a business before.
That's when I decided I had to do it right. I got started with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center in San Francisco. I took their Business Planning Class which was like a mini-MBA, a crash course on marketing, financials, management, and all tools needed to get through the initial hump of start-up.
Soon after I got started we began cooking at Uptown Kitchen in downtown Oakland. This kitchen is a great space. It used to be the Alameda County Food Bank's kitchen, so there were two great big soup kettles there where we can make big batches of soup. The community there is amazing too! It was fun to be among other food crafters and taste their creations! Wow. There is much inspiration in that kitchen, which is ever-evolving. Nearby there is also Kitchener, run by Sophia Chang who is a wonderful champion of the local food scene. These resources make food innovation in Oakland possible!
Making all that soup and filling my inventory was great and all... but connecting with customers and a distribution was key to actually making this venture viable. Good Eggs was my golden goose for that! I could have done events or farmer's markets, but I really wanted to have more flexibility and that meant using Good Egg's online farmer's market was a good idea. I was lucky to start with them at the very beginning. It was exciting to watch this start-up grow out of their initial space in the Mission and move to a warehouse in the Dogpatch. It was also great to see more customers sign in and order Mama Tong soups as they got more traction.
Lots of orders meant we were making plenty of soup and I was fulfilling, delivering, and operating more and more. At one point at the end of the summer, I felt that I was not able to be strategic about the next step for Mama Tong, which is why we are currently on a break. Mama Tong wouldn't have been a success without these three organizations. And to them I will always be grateful.