Miso Tasty Ltd: Bonnie Chung
Bonnie Chung share’s her artisan food business, on a mission to educate and inspire a love of miso throughout the UK and eventually the world
Name: Bonnie Chung
Company name: Miso Tasty Ltd
Number of Employees: 2
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 10/03/2014
Tell us what your business does:
Miso Tasty makes premium quality miso products crafted by artisans at the foot of the Japanese Alps. If you’ve not heard of miso before, then miso is a savoury paste made from fermented soybeans and grains; the Japanese traditionally eat it every day for its health properties; a staple in Japan for centuries. We see miso as an ancient superfood not yet appreciated in the West and our mission as the first miso brand in the UK, is to extol its virtues and spread the love for miso!
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I was fed up of the poor quality powdery or MSG-laden miso soups on the market – there wasn’t a premium quality choice available. I was determined to create a natural, high quality and most of all, super-tasty miso soups for the UK market. The products available on the high street was no where near the taste offered in quality Japanese restaurants in London, let alone in Japan, so I went on a mission to create it myself. Three years later, Miso Tasty was born.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We did a lot of research into the market to try and understand if there was an opportunity for our products; we had stats on the growth in appreciation for Japanese food and culture in the UK, and we believe that Miso Tasty is very much a part of that trend. While the research was encouraging, ultimately it was the determination and personal conviction that the brand I was dreaming about had to exist that brought it to market.
What were you doing before starting up?
I ran one of London’s first secret supper clubs from my home. Open seven days a week, it prepared me for the hard work and relentless nature of start-up life!
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. At school I was the enterprising kid who was always thinking up new ideas. When I was 13-years-old, I had a small business selling kitsch stationary to classmates that I had brought back from family holidays to Asia. At 15, I asked my mum to teach me how to use a sewing machine and I made school bags and pencil cases to sell during the lunch break at school. At university, I was obsessively baking cupcakes to sell to the American students in our college. I have always loved combining craft and business into creative concepts that work, and Miso Tasty is the ultimate; combining the craft of making miso for hundreds of years with the modern commerce of marketing our products to the modern busy urbanite.
How did you raise the money?
I was lucky to find a seed capital investor at the beginning who has continued to fund the business and together we have carefully invited a select group of investors to be part of our journey.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Well, it’s early days yet; but quite simply, we sell premium quality miso products to retailers who appreciate them, who then sell to consumers. We also sell directly to customers through our online store at misotasty.com, which we delivery to their door the following day.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
One of the key challenges was finding suppliers who believed in our business enough to support us in the early proto-type days. Most people in the UK do not know what miso is yet, so it took time to find willing partners who would help us. The key has been perseverance and ultimately we created a little family for our business who have believed in us from the beginning. It has been an important principle at Miso Tasty to continually reward the early believers and to nurture our business relationships from the word go.
What was your first big breakthrough?
My first big breakthrough came three years after I came up with the concept of Miso Tasty. It was when we finally found the right craftsmen for Miso Tasty’s miso at the foot of the Japanese Alps. They had the same artisan, quality values of Miso Tasty and they believed in the mission of our business and trusted our team to represent the artisan nature of their work.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Have a crystal clear vision of your dream and do not give up until you reach it. It took me three years to get to the point of manufacturing; there were moments of doubt but I never thought about giving up – I am so proud that I persevered. I realise now that the key to success is having a killer idea coupled with the determination.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I would love for Miso Tasty to be a household name and for miso products to be a staple in the UK diet and beyond.