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The Business Cuisine Podcast | Weekly interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs & innovators within and beyond the industry | China F&B Business
15 minutes | Mar 22, 2017
TBC 19: 4 PR Tips that Will Keep You Ahead in the F&B Industry
In this episode, we are going to talk about the benefits of PR for the F&B industry. The F&B industry is one of a kind to everyone and all over the world – for the fact that we all have to eat and drink every day, especially in the modern society where people generally are more cautious about their health and wellbeing, and this made the food and beverage sector a long lasting hot topic worldwide. In the past, F&B is seen as a lucrative industry to be part of, as long as you don’t poison people, there will always be paying customers. However, in this new economy, as we strive to live longer and healthier, we tend to be more selective of what we put into our stomach. We read reviews and news before trying a new restaurant, we ask around before making a decision to buy. Therefore, for some that go into the F&B business to make quick money, many died after just a year or less of operation. As a business owner, you may have great product, but remember, nowadays the consumers are more sophisticated, eating or drinking out is not simply just because they are hungry or thirsty, it’s becoming a lifestyle in a way to fulfill their either professional or personal needs. So there has to be more than the product itself. That’s why in the F&B sector, we see more creative marketing activities than ever. In today’s session, I am sharing 4 PR tips to help you stay ahead in the F&B industry.
14 minutes | Mar 8, 2017
TBC 18: 3 Misconceptions Everyone Should Know About PR in China
I’ve been working along SMEs and startups for 10 plus years, specialize helping Western brands solve their problems in China from legal to communications. During those 6 good years in communications, I had the privilege to work with brands in a wide range of sectors in both B2B and B2C. Over the years, it’s quite interesting to hear people’s perception about PR in China, specially among startups. While some SMEs measure the ROI of PR with Advertising and Sales metrics, most of the startups don’t seem to have the general understanding of what PR does and doesn’t do. A lot of them think they just need to have great products, and their customers will do the word of mouth marketing for them, there is no need for PR. In the following weeks, I am going to change the show structure a little by releasing a PR series from my 6 years of PR experience that will give you the hands-on tips to start generating your publicity the right way. This week's session is about the 3 misconceptions that I came across when talking with people about PR in China. Enjoy !
13 minutes | Feb 24, 2017
TBC 17: 10 China Business Recipes Every Entrepreneur Needs
China is complex. Relationship is complex, business environment is complex, the language is complex to master, even with food, it’s probably the most complex type to cook well around the whole globe. Recently, since I took some time off to recover from my dental surgery in my home town, on the flight back from my home town, I began to flash back all the conversations I had with these entrepreneurs in the past 4 months, after 16 episodes published on the show. Whether it’s China business tip, market trends, or more personal adversity and breakthrough, I hope you are inspired from these conversation, so that you know how to take action to move forward when life or business gets hard. Just as every guest shared on the show, each of them has gone through those moments that you and I can only imagine in our head. In this week’s episode, these China entrepreneurs revealed their recipes for China business success. Enjoy!
58 minutes | Feb 18, 2017
TBC 16: When Food Meets VR with Loic Kobes, Co-Founder of Coolhobo 胡罗舶
Picture this first, when you enter a supermarket to buy strawberry jam, you are handed a VR goggle where it gives you a 360-degree video about how the strawberry was grown with what sort of fertilizer, will that help building your trust of this brand? I know it will for me. This week, I brought a company who does exactly that on the show, a Shenzhen based startup Coolhobo. Chinese name is 胡罗舶. Today with me on the show is one of the Co-Founders, a young French entrepreneur Loic Kobes. Nowadays, technology is everywhere in our lives, with a team of tech and food experts, Coolhobo provides the highest quality of European foods under the most cutting edge technology to Chinese consumers, the company is set to be the pioneer in Food VR Commerce in China. This platform allowing Brands, Importers and Retailers to sell directly to Chinese consumers through their own virtual Shop with dedicated 360-degree video content. Loic has importing western food experience working at Ole, the high-end supermarket chain in Shenzhen, from there he saw the challenge and opportunity to create an online shopping experience for food lovers, that’s when the idea of starting his own business got started. Loic mentioned multiple times how important it is to validate your business idea before launching a product, a valuable lesson he learnt before launching Coolhobo. It may sound scary but Coolhobo is founded after 200 business ideas, including a Tinder for Food concept. In this episode, Loic shared some golden tips for how to validate your business idea in front of your target market and consumers before launching anything, how participating in China Accelerator program helped the validation via data as well as fund raising. Coolhobo has two revenue streams, both B2C and B2B, selling to consumers directly and helping European food vendors create their own VR store.
67 minutes | Jan 26, 2017
TBC 15: Globalizing China’s National Spirit Baijiu with William Isler, Co-Founder of Capital Spirits首都酒坊
In the spirit of celebrating Chinese New Year, today we are going to talk about Chinese National Drink, the one item that’s never missing in all Chinese lunch or dinner tables, the most popular spirit in China - Baijiu. Capital Spirits is the world's first bar dedicated to Baijiu that’s opened by three friends in Beijing in 2014. This Baijiu-themed bar is nestled within Daju hutong in east Beijing. Today with me on the show is the Co-Founder William Isler. William is a Beijing-based American entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in the beverage industry in China, he co-founded one of my favorite rooftop bars KoKoMo long before Capital Spirits, he loves to drink, he speaks perfect Chinese, so we can see the pattern here for his next venture with Capital Spirits. We covered a lot of fun yet very informative fun stuff in this session, not only you will hear different drinking culture, the importance of drinking in Chinese business scene, the beverage trends in China and in the U.S., whether it’s ready-to-drink spirits, or Baijiu-based cocktails, different tactics for marketing of Baijiu to Chinese and Western consumers, William also shared his inputs on the general conception and misconception of Baijiu. You may have heard of Capital Spirits, or maybe you’ve been there as well. But there is another layer of the story, it’s also what resonated with me the most, it’s about how three friends opened up a bar as a hobby, and from there it led to a brand new business opportunity with the major Chinese Baijiu manufacturers which neither of them had ever imagined.
47 minutes | Jan 19, 2017
TBC 14: Design to Achieve Business Goals with Barbara Seidelmann, Founder and Managing Director of 5 Star Plus Retail Design
Before we start today’s show, let me ask you a question – when you go to Starbucks or Costa, have you ever noticed the difference between their furniture? Hard wood vs. soft red sofa. Has it ever occurred to you those chairs are designed on purpose to achieve different business goals? I for one, love to sit and spend more time at Costa than Starbucks. This week I brought a dear friend of mine on the show, an Austrian female entrepreneur Barbara Seidelmann who runs a retail design firm. Back in the day I was still working in IP, while she was working for others. I am very happy to see she has come this far with her own company. Founded by Austrian entrepreneur Barbara Seidelmann in 2012 in Beijing, 5 Star Plus Retail Design has helped numerous brands to build and redefine their retail store design both in China and in Europe, including restaurants, fashion and creative brands. The company’s mission is to provide high quality branded retail design and consulting service to international retail and luxury brands that are wishing to enter, expand or redefine their presence in the Chinese market. I am glad to have Barbara on the show today to discuss what makes a successful design for a restaurant or a café, what to consider when it comes to design a restaurant that actually works for you, that helps the business owners achieve its business objectives, whether it’s to make consumers stay longer, or leave faster, or perhaps communicate a specific story of the owner. What I found very interesting and cool is all these has something to do with how the space is designed. Barbara also shared her view on the challenges that the designers face in the industry. I remember Jordan Campbell from Verve Intl said – an event is there for a reason. I think we can say the same for design, how a space is presented, how the furniture is used, why there is lighting in some areas etc., these details are all there for a reason etc. Of course, there are common psychological reasons of how we feel about design, but what you may not know is, there is a business goal behind every detail that seems so natural to us as consumers.
37 minutes | Jan 12, 2017
TBC 13: Leading China’s Fine Dining with Alex Molina, Co-Founder and General Manager of Mosto Group
About today’s guest, I have a very special bond with. I worked with him at his 1st restaurant for a short 2 weeks when it was opened in 2008. 8 years later – here we are, with 3 kids, a beautiful wife who is also his business partner, 3 sub-brands, 8 locations across Beijing, Chengdu and Hangzhou. I can’t help but wonder – can life get any better for him? Since its first opening in 2008 aiming to serve contemporary cuisine with a South American twist, Mosto certainly has established its name in Beijing’s fine dining scene and has also set up a high bar for its fellow restaurateurs, not just for its sophisticated Swedish design, but its creative cooking that focusing on quality, so much so that even the crown princess of Sweden couldn't resist to pay a visit when she was visiting Beijing during the Olympics. Alex shared his experience in the wine industry in different countries, that experience eventually lead him to open up his own restaurant in Beijing, the changes of Chinese consumer in the past 10 years, the growing industry trends, healthy living style, how does he view competition, creative ideas get copied and the use of WeChat in the industry, his belief to make it successful in the F&B industry etc. Want to know where the name Mosto comes from? Tune in for my conversation with the Co-Founder, also the General Manager of Mosto Group, Columbian wine expert Alex Molina.
60 minutes | Jan 5, 2017
TBC 12: Think Like an Entrepreneur with Verne Harnish, Founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
I have a super exciting guest to kick off 2017, and I am so thrilled to have him on the show. Join me this week on the TBC podcast is the Founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Verne Harnish. He is also the Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company. Verne has spent the past 34 years educating entrepreneurial teams. He has written several best-selling business books, including Mastering the Rockefeller Habits which is published in 9 languages including Chinese. His latest book - the upgraded version of the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 called Scaling up has also been translated to Chinese to be published in spring 2017. He has been called one of the "Top 10 Minds in Small Business" by Fortune Small Business. Verne shared so many valuable practices and his personal view on both entrepreneurship and the food industry on the show. Including the challenges for EO and entrepreneurs in China, what the most successful entrepreneurs in the world including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg have in common, the key tools and techniques for building an industry-dominating business, why running a business is ultimately about freedom and how to achieve that dream. We also talked about Verne’s view on the future for the food industry, market revenue, innovation, food science and automation.
48 minutes | Dec 27, 2016
TBC 11: Bringing in Authentic French Taste from Paris to Beijing with Benjamin Devos, Founder and CEO of Comptoirs de France 法派
In 2005, 25 years old French native Benjamin took his family tradition business – a 161 years old flour making business from Paris to China, and further expanded to a reputable French bakery that serving both consumers as well as providing catering service for corporate company events or special occasions like weddings. Today, Comptoirs de France has 15 bakeries in Beijing and Tianjin with its own production center by the airport. Benjamin’s philosophy is simple - bringing authentic French experience from Paris to Beijing, to ensure food safety and quality, Comptoirs only use imported ingredients from Europe where Benjamin personally knows each provider, including the flour from his own family back in Fontainebleau Paris. We talked about how online food delivery apps not only helped increasing orders of the bakery, but also provided a complementary free service by reaching out to new consumers who may not know about Comptoris before. The differences between serving consumers and corporate companies, the French way of life and healthy living, Comptoirs’s positioning in the market here.
53 minutes | Dec 21, 2016
TBC 10: Standing Out in the Chinese Events Market with Jordan Campbell, Founder and Managing Director of Verve International
Scottish entrepreneur Jordan Campbell founded an events agency Verve International after working for Bacardi for 6 years in Shanghai. Verve was started on the premises that Jordan saw a gap in the events management sector during his years of working for Bacardi, the lack of human touch with real experience at events, events that go beyond the usual backdrops and signature wall, he wanted to do something different by creating an unforgettable experience so much so that even if you take the brand logo out, all the guests will still remember who the event represents. It’s a fun episode with lots of tips that Jordan shared while working with different brands for their offline events, we also discussed the events industry’s changes and trends, how different technologies like VR enhance experiences in travel, hospitality, restaurants, and how can they be used to help your events regardless of your budget. How to get inspiring event ideas, tips for localizing a western concept in China.
23 minutes | Dec 12, 2016
TBC 09: What You Would Have Done Differently, If You Had to Start Over from the 8 Past Episodes’ Guests
This week’s show is going to be a short and sweet session, as there are so many golds shared by the past 8 guests that came on the show, and this is the least I can do to attribute back to them for their time spent with me. So without further ado, here are the answers from the past guests when I ask them this question: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self, if you had to start it all over again, what would you have done differently? Session 1 with Founder of Sherpa’s食派士, Mark Secchia Session 2 with Brewmaster, Co-Founder and CEO of Great Leap Brewing 大跃啤酒, Carl Setzer Session 3 with Founder of Chi Fan For Charity, Michael Crain Session 4 with CEO and Founder of CHEERS Wines, Claudia Masueger Session 5 with Founder of Plastered 8创可贴8, Dominic Johnson-Hill Session 6 with Founder of Plastered 8创可贴8, Dominic Johnson-Hill Session 7 with Co-Founder of Gung Ho! Pizza叫板披萨, Jade Grey Session 8 with Columbian Barista, Sergio Ortiz, Co-Founder of CoffeeMan
47 minutes | Nov 27, 2016
TBC 08: Filling the Gap for China’s Growing Coffee Culture with Columbian Barista, Sergio Ortiz
Columbian barista Sergio Ortiz is the Co-Founder of CoffeeMan. Sergio came to Beijing in 2013 with chemistry background and coffee brewing experience, and joined his brother to run the family coffee business in China. CoffeeMan is a coffee production and supplier founded in Beijing in 2013, aiming to deliver authentic and well-crafted coffee products which are sourced and selected from coffee farms in Columbia to the Chinese market. So they take coffee beans directly from the coffee farms and sell to the end consumer here. We covered how CoffeeMan started from selling to B2B corporate clients, and now have expanded selling to B2C end consumers like myself through their WeChat store, the current trends and challenges of the coffee industry in China, room for growth and survival methods for indie smaller coffee businesses. Sergio also gave his tips to fellow entrepreneurs about the importance of learning Chinese language in this session. Let’s dive in.
60 minutes | Nov 17, 2016
TBC 07: Building a Sustainable Pink Pizza Brand with New Zealander Jade Grey, Co-Founder of Gung Ho! Pizza 叫板披萨
New Zealand serial entrepreneur Jade Grey is the Co-Founder of Gung Ho! Pizza, also the guy behind Pyro Pizza and café bar Lush.Today I brought him on the show as the man behind his biggest gourmet pizza brand – Gung Ho! Pizza. 新西兰叫板披萨 Jade came to China in 1996 and has run several businesses successfully in Beijing from fitness to F&B in the past 13 years. Co-founded Gung Ho! Pizza in 2010 with his New Zealand business partner John O’Loghlen, Gung Ho! now has grown from the original delivery based gourmet pizza to 4 locations across the city, providing top-quality fresh ingredients with a unique combination on pizza that Beijing had never seen before. Using the color Pink that no one would ever use in F&B industry, it’s more than obvious why these guys call themselves – a different kind of pizza company. We covered leadership, local partners, technology and a lot more in this session. And most importantly, Jade’s approach on building company culture, which is also what he views as the most competitive advantage with Gung Ho!. Let’s dive in.
48 minutes | Nov 10, 2016
TBC 06: How Small Brands Can Get Featured in Chinese Media with Dominic Johnson-Hill, Founder of Plastered 8 创可贴 8
Hope you all enjoyed the 1st part of my chat from last week with Founder of Plastered 8, Dominic Johnson-Hill. In the second part of this interview, we covered how Plastered got featured in almost all major Chinese media channels, from TV, magazine, newspaper, online news portal all the way to WeMedia, without spent a penny on any advertising. And how this strategy can apply to any brands especially SMEs without much marketing budget. Dominic also shared his very first TV appearance on 我家在北京 by Chen Luyu陈鲁豫 in 2007 which was a massive turning point for Plastered 8, all the way to today for his newest marketing campaign – selling canned Beijing Air (a.k.a polluted air). You’ve got to listen to the story as Dominic is a great storyteller. We also covered how to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to copycats, and how scale may or may not be for your business – that hard lesson came from almost losing Plastered 8 in year six of the business.
45 minutes | Nov 3, 2016
TBC 05: Creating New F&B Revenue Stream with Dominic Johnson-Hill, Founder of Plastered 8 创可贴8
In this session of The Business Cuisine Podcast, I chat with British entrepreneur Dominic Johnson-Hill, Founder of Creative Design Clothing Label - Plastered 8. This is the 1st part of my conversation with Dominic. In a nutshell, Dominic founded Plastered 8 in Beijing in 2005, the business was formed on a non-successful idea and that non-successful T-shirt turned out to be his worst selling design to date among hundreds of designs, a hint - it has something to do with Paris HiltonJ Now he has grown the business to 3 stores 20 employees across Beijing. We covered What Plastered 8 is all about, how not attending university is the best decision he’s ever made, how partner with a café in Beijing opened up a new revenue stream for him to design artwork for the F&B industry, why creativity and innovation is crucial for every industry and so much more.
56 minutes | Oct 26, 2016
TBC 04: Breaking into the Young Chinese Drinking Market with Claudia Masueger, Founder and CEO of CHEERS Wines 齐饮
In this session of The Business Cuisine Podcast, I chat with Swiss entrepreneur Claudia Masueger, Founder and CEO of CHEERS Wines for both of her B2B wine company and B2C CHEERS Wines retail business model. The reason why she changed from B2B to B2C and lesson learnt during the switch. We also talked about the potential of mid-priced wine market in China, what it takes to sell to the young Chinese consumers, and advice for anyone that’s trying to get into the Chinese market. CHEERS Wines now had 38 retails stores across China and is still growing rapidly.
69 minutes | Oct 11, 2016
TBC 03: Giving Back by Eating Out with Michael Crain, Founder of NGO Chi Fan (Eat) For Charity
In this session of The Business Cuisine Podcast, I am very excited to present my guest for today - Michael Crain, Founder of NGO Chi Fan for Charity, that means eat for Charity, known as China’s premiere charity dining event. In this episode, we talked about how does CFFC work, the challenges the organization faces being a foreign owned charity in China, what drives Michael continually giving back to the community these years while building and running CFFC on the side besides his full time job, and raising a 3 children family. Michael also gave his insider view on the differences of charity between China and the U.S in general, technology used in F&B industry in China, and what he is hoping to achieve next for the organization.
81 minutes | Oct 10, 2016
TBC 02: The Craft Beer Leader Brewed from Beijing_s Hutong with Carl Setzer, Brewmaster, Co-Founder and CEO of Great Leap Brewing 大跃啤酒
In this episode of The Business Cuisine Podcast, I’m excited to bring you Carl Setzer from Great Leap Brewing. Great Leap is one of the first breweries in China and in Beijing. Being the first doesn't always mean being successful, but today’s guest has brewed out his way from a small taproom in Beijing’s Hutong, turned into a three locations craft beer empire across the city today. And who would have thought it all started with his wife wanted him to have a hobby to balance the stress from his IT job he had back then. In this episode, I take you behind the scenes, and chat with Carl about the startup story behind Great Leap, the origin of the great leap name – it came from his wife’s grandfather, the craft beer market competition, the changes of Chinese consumer behavior in recent years, and what does that mean for business, best practice for marketing, intellectual property protection, his suggestions for foreigners starting business in China, how crucial is it to understand your legal rights from Day 1. We also dived into Carl’s different approach by choosing location at hidden undeveloped areas, his philosophy being attract the real craft beer lovers v.s. the general mass public. I am also particularly touched by carl’s approach about business revenue – re-invest in your people, so let’s dive in.
65 minutes | Oct 10, 2016
TBC 01: Running a 8 Figure Revenue US$ Online Food Delivery Company from Two Continents with Mark Secchia, Founder of Sherpa_s 食派士
In this first episode of The Business Cuisine Podcast, I’m stoked to welcome Mark Secchia from Sherpa’s to be the very first guest on the show! Mark comes from an entrepreneurial family background back in the U.S. Growing up, he sees somebody as working for himself not others. As China’s first foreign owned bi-lingual online food delivery company, today Sherpa's works with over 400 restaurants now, generating about 2,000 orders on an average day, feeding hungry expats and English speaking Chinese across Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou. In this episode, you’ll hear how Mark got started with Sherpa’s in 1999 in Shanghai with $50k capital borrowed and 9 employees by size, and turned it into a 9 figure revenue (RMB) (8 figure in USD) company with 200 employees across China today, why he chose F&B, how SARS saved his company when he could barely make payroll the next day. Mark also shared his view on competition in online delivery niche in China V.S. in the U.S., his most challenging and most joyful moment, we also discussed some of the trends in F&B coming in the next few years.
9 minutes | Oct 10, 2016
The Business Cuisine Podcast Introduction
Hey guys, welcome and thank you for tuning in today. I am the Founder and Host of The Business Cuisine, a weekly podcast featuring entrepreneurship and innovation in China’s Food and Beverage industry. My goal is to take you behind the scenes, and to show you how things work here, and most importantly, what it really takes to get things done on the ground. You will learn how they got started, what it takes to be where they are today, what they would have done differently if they were to start over again, their highest and lowest moments, market trends, opportunities and much more. If this sounds intriguing to you, I would like to invite you all to join me for a weekly all-you-can-eat-and-drink business buffet from China. Let’s learn and grow together.
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