Michael Yang - Yang Yang
Michael Yang - Yang Yang
Describe yourself and your project. How did you get the idea?
It is a common tradition in Asia that you buy something locally for you family and friends. Many visitors had hard time looking for special gifts in Sweden when they were going home. We came the idea to create a gift basket includes several typical Swedish food for foreign business and research visitors in Sweden. Our project is to provide such a service to promote local (Skåne) food, culture, travel experience and family value.
Who are you? Previous education/jobs/ experiences etc.
My name is Michael. I am a student in Economy Growth, Innovation and Spatial Dynamic in Lund University. My programme is very research-based. But, before my study, I worked as a research analyst in Groupon (China) and management trainee in DHL. I know the importance to combine theory knowledge and practical experience to achieve the most positive result. I am not always looking forward to create something more useful to the general population.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
Currently, we just started the company and contacted our potential sales channel like hotels, and ultimately, airports. We just received our first order not long ago, and we are preparing to ship out the first package. This summer will be very important for us: we need to fulfil the first order hopefully before the end of June. In July and August, we will use feedbacks that we get to further improve our design, and products..
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
The leapfrogs cheque allows us to realize our concept and order from our suppliers. We wish that we can make the best use these money and make the business work. It is always better that we can provide more solid proves and visualized materials when we are approaching other hotels and traveling bureaus. We hope that we can expand into enough size and have more negotiation power to talk to bigger sales channels.
Michael Yang - Yang Yang #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
We managed to do some blind tests on students in Lund before the end of the semester that we can have a brief idea about which product and taste will be preferred from our selection of products. Then we managed to finalize the selection of product in our gift basket. We chose chocolate, jam, rapeseed oil and different kinds of biscuits. We hope the product selection can not only reflect the high quality of local produced traditional food, but also a feeling of nature and family. We also managed to have our first order from Scandic Star hotel in Lund. We are working on assemble our first shipment and preparing for the launch of our product.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
The original plan was to order wooden basket from a Polish supplier, it is fairly cheap compare to Swedish supplier and it is very close in distance. As a starting business, we have no idea about how many gift baskets can we sell at the beginning, and we don’t want to take the risk to store many basket. Thus we are only planning to order a small amount of basket from the supplier. Unfortunately, the Polish supplier demanded 1000 units as a minimum order. We cannot make it. So we turn our hope to Chinese suppliers. It is not an easy task to handle international business with different regulations. We learned a lot from the process, but we are still far from managing it. We are still working on it.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
First, we have to solve the basket issue. We need the basket not only as a holding unit, a container for the gifts, but also a decoration and an experience. If we don’t have it, the gift package will be less appealing for our customers and also lose the value of the product. Order from Swedish suppliers will leave very little profit for us due to high price. We need to find a suppliers who accepts smaller minimum order, and offers cheaper price or even better quality. Second, we have to make sure that the first order we deliver to our sell channel goes smooth. The result of our first launch will be very fatal for us. If we can make it successful, then we will have a positive impression from the selling channels and ultimately, our customers. And the successful launch will help us establish more channels and more orders.
Michael Yang - Yang Yang #3
How did you experience the three months?
It was a very interesting and meaningful summer for me and my partner. We started our own company and finished our first product delivery. It was real encouraging that we actually made it. It started as merely a concept and idea, and now it becomes something. Without leapfrogs’ help, maybe we will still manage to get there, but it is definitely going to take far longer time than just three months. I am really grateful to leapfrogs. And also, we learned a lot during the procedure. The company and the business is just on its beginning stage, and it is still too early to say anything about it. May it be succeed or fail in the future, we both have nothing to regret about. But we will definitely try out best to make it grow.
What has been hardest/most enjoyable?
The most difficult part is that we underestimate the difficulty in doing international trading, especially with countries on the other side of the planet. Our product require a basket as the container, and hand-made baskets are very expensive in Sweden. But after some research, we found out that China makes baskets with rather cheap in price and yet better in quality. So we just need to order them and they will be sent to Sweden, a piece of cake, right? Wrong! As a startup, we cannot afford the risk to order 1000 basket at once, so the first order will be 200. But to transfer these 200 baskets, since it is a very small delivery, we need to pay almost 4 times the total price of all the baskets together to transport agents to make them here. Which is totally undoable and illogical.
Did it go as expected? Will you continue working on your project in the future?
Yes, most of it went well as planned. We still didn’t solve the basket problem which occurred at the beginning of the June. But we did manage to fulfil the first delivery to our first customer, a hotel in Lund, and we will get paid from it. Though we are still missing the feedbacks from end users who buy the basket from the hotel, but at least the business worked as planned. And currently, we are registered as Nordic Exquisite Food AB, and we are in touch with more sales channels, more customers and building more contacts. We believe that we are comfortable to put more effort in this business and see how it goes. We are still trying to make effort to fulfil our customers demand and also to help small/medium local food producer grow. We believe it is good for the local food producer community.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Never underestimate anything or think anything too easy. Experience is a double side blade, it can help a lot, and also can do a lot of harm. Our experience told us ordering stuff will not be difficult. Because our supplier are located in Skåne, we visited them to build more trust and connection with them before ordering products. And it normally takes a week to deliver when we order from them. But if we choose a supplier in China (the basket only), we need to plan several months ahead. We need to take the production and transportation time into account, as well as take our days sales of inventory and total capital into consideration. As a startup trying to build up a customer base, it is almost impossible to predict. Though no harm done, but we did learn a lesson from our ignorant.
Do you have any tips to other ”new” entrepreneurs?
For new members: If you have an idea, go for it. No matter what, it definitely worth trying. You will learn a lot during the procedure of making a concept, an idea into a real thing. If you succeed and the business grows, congratulations! You make you dream come true. If you do not succeed, also do not worry. The small failure you encounter right now will save you from a lot of bigger troubles tomorrow. And the most important part is that you earn experience and also create personal contacts which will benefit you a lot in future projects or your career. Don’t be upset and don’t give up, just go ahead and follow your heart.