Key ingredients for small-business success from eat2explore
Expanding minds and creating memories one recipe at a time
During a cooking class while on vacation with her kids, Rowena Scherer realized her children didn’t know how to chop an onion or navigate a kitchen. Reminiscing on her time growing up cooking with her family in Malaysia, she decided to design cooking kits to recreate that experience, and broaden it, using the unique foodways of various cultures as a bridge into fun
learning and great eating for curious kids and their adults. 2020 FedEx Small Business Grant winner eat2explore is a food & cultural explorer box that provides families with recipes, spices and sauces, educational materials and collectibles so families can cook, taste and discover different world cuisine and culture. Families can choose the country or continent they want to explore, shop for ingredients on their own time and jump into an edible educational journey together.
Now let’s spice things up with a little Q&A. We talked with Rowena to get insights into how she has grown a successful business that may spark some ideas for other small businesses.
What’s included in the boxes and how do you ship your product?
Rowena: We are based in New York and our boxes are assembled by our team in Tuxedo Park, NY. Each box comes with three recipes with hard to find spices, spice mixes or grain mixes, a shopping list for basic ingredients, educational materials about the country, a cooking tool and collectibles for kids, such as passport, flag pins and country stickers. Most of our recipes provide alternative meat or seafood options. Additionally, we have gluten-free and vegetarian boxes.
How do you choose the countries for your recipe boxes?
Rowena: I would love to ultimately cover a majority of the countries in the world, but I started off with 17 countries that have cuisines that kids will enjoy, and families can easily explore. We can ship anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, so families can try to cook these dishes and learn about different cultures. I work with home school educators to craft the educational materials for each box. Since these boxes are a big hit for the home-schooled crowd, the educators write the blog pieces, craft the lesson plans and create the activity sheets that are included in each box.
How do you work with a remote, global team?
Rowena: I use text, Skype and Zoom to communicate with my team in the U.S. and WhatsApp to talk to my team members in Asia. I’m available to them 24/7 and they know when they can best reach me. I mostly communicate over email but video has also become huge. The biggest thing as a leader for me is always to make myself available to them, be flexible and ensure I’m being responsive, even if it’s to let them know I have acknowledged their message and will get back to them.
What are your top 3 tips for small-business success?
- Do not wait to start. I don’t believe you should spend years conducting research into the industry you want to start your business in and then not end up launching your business. You should launch if you can to better understand what people want and need.
- You must listen to your customers. After launching, eight months into the business, I pivoted because of what my customers were saying about the product. I learned what they liked and didn’t like and I changed my approach based on that feedback. I believe a key ingredient for every successful company is the willingness to listen to their customer, be flexible and change if needed.
- Don’t give up. The biggest reason I’ve seen for start-ups failing is that the founders gave up. If you’re willing to grind and keep moving forward, you will be successful. You might have to change your approach and pivot a bit but don’t give up.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners like Rowena are doing creative and exciting things in their businesses. See more inspirational winner stories and get insights for business success from past grant contest winners, plus other entrepreneurs and small-business experts.