[Journey] Vegan Dumpling Business

Me and my partner are starting a long-awaited dumpling business.

GOAL:
Our ultimate goal with this is to be able to travel together and make vegan foods that people love. We want the food to be so good, that the “vegan” side of it is just an afterthought.

Quick Background of the Chef (aka my gf)

She wanted to go to culinary school, but after looking into schools, they all required her to cook with animal products for 80% of the curriculum… So with me alongside her, we thought, screw it, let’s start a business and you get paid to cook with vegan food while serving delicious food for people.

We thought about opening a restaurant, but that is expensive to start with rent and all… So we thought of opening a “cloud” or “Ghost” kitchen. Where we only deliver strictly to customers. So you can run this business from any kitchen. And with COVID happening, we could rent out the kitchens which are not being used (or co-working kitchens), and operate from there.

PHASE 1:
Our plan during this phase is to receive feedback on the current flavors, presentation and test how we cope with making dumplings ourselves.

We’ve been planning this for several months, but 2 weekends ago, we said, screw it, let’s start this already to get feedback and make this real. (good enough is good enough)

We had a simple menu:

  • 10 x Beijing Dumplings - Japanese style
  • 10 x Madrid Dumplings - Spanish empenada style
    With minimum order of 20 dumplings.
    We also operated from Thurs through Sunday, taking orders 24 hrs in advance so we can prep.

So my gf posted about it on her private instagram account. With that post, on the first night, we got 200 dumplings ordered. (It took some following up with a lot of conversations :slight_smile: )

At this point, we had our certificates to get this going in a legitimate way and had a rough idea of how to operate with some eco-friendly packaging and delivery only within a certain radius.

So we started taking orders from friends and family. We know this is not 100% a proof of concept to know how the market will respond to it yet, but we wanted to get some cash to stay lean and only buy things we needed to improve to make our customers feel special.

As for social media,
We made 2-3 posts about it to our circles on instagram, and on facebook. I shared a few updates on how many we sold on the weekends. With those few posts, we received around 32 orders from the last 2 weekends. The DM’s kept coming in. We started a website but we took payments to our emails.

So after two weekends, here are some stats for you guys:
Weekend 1: 390 dumplings sold
Weekend 2: 440 dumplings sold

We did approx. 900$ in cash. We used some of it to improve our equipment to make bigger batches throughout the weekends and cover our costs of packaging, gas, and other expenses.

Without promoting the page yet we are at 91 followers now on Instagram. We hope to get this number higher, and getting more content out for our page.

As far as feedback, we sent people a form soon after they received their orders. We received 20 detailed form responses on what we can improve to make our customers happier


For now:

We thought we could not continue to run while implementing the changes as we felt overwhelmed, so we are taking a pause for the next 2-3 weekends to go over the feedback and expand our menu, improve our processes, and do an official launch to the public.

(I am thinking of ways we could encourage repeat orders (gamify it) and include extras to deliver more happiness)

I am not sure if this thread should stay in this category, or it should be left in Level 2? But I will update this thread as things progress over the coming days, weeks, etc.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this inspires someone to go after what they want. After the first night, she was so thrilled we got this going. And it just makes it all worth while.

Cheers,

Leon

#infortheautumngiveaway

13 Likes

Something different and looks amazing👌🏻

Best of luck for your Journey!

1 Like

Vegan here. Would love to try. Good luck on your journey.

What about a meal plan business. Where people subscribe to your dumplings and get delivery every week. Pay a monthly fee and get delivery every weekend. For your biz, you know how much inventory to buy/make, set schedule of when to make them and spend one day delivering to everybody.

2 Likes

Thanks for the support @aman1809 & @Race44

Great idea for the subscription meal plan model.
We offered both frozen and cooked fresh options and most orders were cooked. So this got us thinking we could do deliveries only on weekends. While we prep 1-2 days before to get the quantities right

Then on the deliver days on the weekend:
During the day : deliver frozen.
Evening: deliver the cooked.

We will test the subscription model in a future phase after we get a few repeat customer.

Ray, thanks again mate. Will keep you posted on it.

1 Like

Good luck with your journey @tripleyourtribe :slight_smile: This sounds like a great success to be :slight_smile: Do you have any specific plans on how you are going to promote it on social media or also working on this and going with the flow?

1 Like

Thanks @Bianca!

Yes, it’s still rough ideas for now but we are going in this direction for now:

  1. We are planning on using local vegan bloggers to send out sample orders for them to promote us.
  2. Facebook ads + Instagram ads to get an idea of our CAC (cost per acquisition) to get a sense of how the public reacts to this sort of food. (It is a great number to know when we are looking to expand further.)
  3. Customers share their content around the dumplings on their IG or FB to enter a draw to win a free order (or X% off your next purchase)

We are also thinking to gamify for repeat orders, so something in the realm of,

  • Get a free set of 10 dumplings after your 5th set of 10 dumplings
  • Get X % off your next order for completing our feedback survey
  • Enter a weekly or monthly draw of getting a free order for filling out our feedback survey
3 Likes

Thanks for sharing, I hope you’ll get there @tripleyourtribe :v:t2: Best of luck!! :smiley:

1 Like

I liked your thread man, interesting, keep up the good work :+1:t2: :+1:t2:

1 Like

Interesting journey… I will surely follow it. You’ve got great ideas on promoting your business on social media. Good luck! :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

This really sounds like a great plan :slight_smile: if they are delicious, I’m sure with such plan and devotion, this journey will go great :slight_smile: looking forward to hearing how it goes!

1 Like

Thanks for the support everyone!

We went away for several days.

We went to a cabin in the woods to detach, relax, and cross one item off my bucket-list: to look at the stars with the naked eye at night. I highly recommend doing this at some point in your life.

But now that we are back, we are testing several new flavours and updating things to get this rolling.

Time for a little update:

  • I created a sign-up list for a newsletter to get notified when we open next (looking into getting Messenger chatbot involved, or texting platform in the future) For now, im using Mailchimp as a free list manager/crm.

  • People who sign up will receive a coupon code for $5 off when we open to the public in 2 weeks. I built the site using Square.com

  • I need to import the list of emails from people who completed our feedback survey (into a clients email list)

  • Tentative date for our official launch is Nov 16th.

  • We tested 2 new items on the menu with great success: (1) mini apple pies, and (2) “butter” chik’n with it’s own dipping sauce (it was delicious!) I can certainly see how people would order multiple sauces for this one. It was so tasty!

  • We will be testing several other dumplings this week to see if they are feasible. (French onion soup, and a poutine version)

  • I gathered some dumpling hashtags and noted patterns from the top 9 posts to replicate content (the shooting angles, reel ideas, etc)

  • For social media, we teased some of the new flavors and trying to keep the momentum going on the stories. Not sure how much we should be posting on the feed, but once we get to making more and more dumplings daily, we can easily make a ton of content every day to schedule out or via stories.

  • I created a taplink.at (an alternative to linktree) with 2 links to use in our bio on IG:
    (1) Email sign up.
    (2) Our Store.

We’re excited to get this going! I’ll update again shortly.

Leon

4 Likes

This sounds great, improving on all sides :slight_smile: This sounds delicious can’t imagine how actually delicious this is :smiley:

1 Like

Wow, great strategy, keep it up @tripleyourtribe :v:t2:

1 Like

I’m quite impressed by my gf’s ideas lol. Hopefully we will be able to ship them internationally one day - perhaps frozen is the route to go for that.

Minor updates:

  • My gf made vegan fortune cookies and it was simpler than she thought! We’ll include specialized messages inside them to make it more fun too. This is to add a free gift to our meals - I’m unsure if this is temporary or permanent, but for now, we will be including them. Its rare to find vegan fortune cookies as it is - they are usually filled with butter and eggs. So including these will be our extra touch to WOW our customers.
    screenshot-www.instagram.com-2020.11.05-10_55_36

  • I had a call with a marketing friend who suggested to partner up with a local resto and include several dumplings at an extra cost to their meals so that we can get faster feedback from the public market. Im unsure about the elements to this deal so far:

  1. Our products should complement the biz we partner with
  2. How does that biz keep in touch with their customers? & are they open to ask their customers for feedback on the dumplings?

but the idea is there to test run with a running business who has a stream of customers already. I’m unsure when we will use this strategy ~ but i like the idea to get more data.

2 Likes

Love reading this journey, and glad you are finding success with it!
You seem to be approaching your business the right way, at all stages let simplicity drive your business so it can survive & scale.

Definitely on point #1.

Don’t be afraid to require that these businesses adhere to point #2. You are enhancing their business by offering to share your menu with them.

The thought process is correct: get yourself more data while leaning on the success of your dumplings (or whatever shows this success later on) business.

If you let us know where this business is located, or made available, you may get an order for those frozen ones from here (or me if no one else).

Well wishes on the continuation of your journey!

1 Like

Excellent points right there. In the past I’ve overcomplicated things and it led to burnout. Trying to keep things as simple as I can this time around :wink:

Another great point that slipped my mind :smiley:

The business is located in Montreal, Canada.

Haha thanks I appreciate it @Gtamaster! I’ll include something extra for your order. I can’t wait to get to that point ~ to ship them out frozen :raised_hands::slight_smile:

Thanks for your support and great feedback. I appreciate it @Gtamaster :slightly_smiling_face:

Update:

We opened our doors to the public 2 weeks ago, however, unfortunately, I tested positive for COVID. So we had to immediately close doors. During this time, I was not able to focus much at all as the symptoms took the best of me.

However, I did change our website:
I initially made our store using the Square website builder. But as we tried doing a few test purchases, we found that picking DELIVERY and PICK-UP times were too confusing.

So, we switched entirely to Wordpress + Woocommerce with several paid plugins that helped us do what we wanted:

The plugins I used (for reference)

  1. Woocommerce Order Delivery
  2. Woocommerce Distance Rate Shipping
  3. YITH WooCommerce Gift Cards Premium

Delayed Launch
As of today, I am symptom-free for 2 days and no longer contagious (According to the nurses who called me to tell me the initial news). However, my gf must quarantine for another 10 or so days since I may have transmitted it to her until 2 days ago. So, we cannot open yet. And we estimate we will be re-opening in the new year.

In the meantime, we will be focusing on:

  1. Selling Gift cards
  2. Continue testing and refining our recipes and frozen packages
  3. Build our content plan for social media (testing Tiktok and Reel-style content)
  4. Connecting with other similar business-owners
  5. Look for a kitchen or rent an airbnb to cook out of.

I hope you guys are well!

-Leon

2 Likes

Looks like an Interesting Journey,I am following.

1 Like

Good luck! I am still waiting to find an idea I can run with my gf

1 Like

Thanks @razentyler. I hope it inspires you.

@CARNIVORE thank you! That’s so great to hear! I hope you find something. For us, it came from going over our values and what we wanted out of our lives together. So to help with our ultimate goal, starting this business was part of our vision. Other businesses are in the mindmap as well. Perhaps a brainstorm about shared values, life goals and vision can work for you and your gf as well. Good luck to you as well! :slight_smile:

3 Likes