Mandy Yeung of bobagreen: Delivering High Quality Boba in a Sustainable Fashion

December 15, 2020
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Tell us about your business/company or hustle. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?

bobagreen is an online eco-friendly bubble tea business, and we specialize in delivering high quality boba in a sustainable fashion. We are known for our DIY Bubble Tea Kits, which have been a hit as gifts for all occasions, and we donate a portion of each sale to the nonprofit, The Story of Stuff Project, who share our mission of eliminating single-use plastic waste. Even though the pandemic has caused a surge in competition in the boba kit business, we are proud to be the first eco-friendly bubble tea company, and are most excited about being able to share our sustainability mission with all bubble tea lovers.

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you got started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.

I grew up in a humble household and my single mom worked 7 days a week in low income jobs for many years to support our family. I never thought I’d ever own my own business, because I didn’t think it was for people “like me.” After college, I built a successful career in construction management but I didn’t feel fulfilled – my natural instincts towards continuous improvement and innovation seemed to always clash with the stifling corporate environment. However, with a super risk averse mentality, I pursued an endless search for the perfect job, project, or company, and never thought I could create my own ideal business. Then I gave birth to my daughter and realized the riskiest thing to do was to stay complacent within my comfort zone. I wanted to be a good role model for my baby, and I couldn’t do that if I weren’t true to myself. The idea for bobagreen evolved from my love of boba and my passion for protecting our planet from plastic pollution (especially because I don’t want my daughter and her generation to have to deal with the climate change issues we are actively contributing to today). I officially launched in January 2020, having no idea that boba kits would basically become an essential product within the next few months. It’s been a wild ride of sudden growth and interest, and I am so grateful that I took the chance to position myself in where bobagreen is today. As they say – luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!

 

What specific obstacles or challenges have you faced while on your journey? What were they and how have you overcome them?

As a first-time entrepreneur, there is a lot of self-doubt and internal pressure to deliver. Because I care tremendously about the customer experience and product, I definitely over-stress about trying to provide the best customer service while juggling everything else that’s involved in running your own small business. Since we do everything in house, including fulfillment, I always want to get orders out as soon as possible because I love delighting customers when their products are received earlier than expected. I have since learned that I really need to chill, just a little, because most people understand that small businesses cannot operate like an Amazon warehouse, and sometimes I really need to focus more on product development and marketing plans rather than getting the next order out on the same day. When you’re running your own business, you’re in control, so instinctively I feel like I should be pushing myself to the max all the time, but I’ve come to accept that I am running a marathon, not a sprint. I won’t last long in this game if I can’t prevent or deal with burnout effectively.

What quality or characteristic of yours do you feel is most important to you as an entrepreneur? Why?

 

I think that my beliefs around competition really help keep me grounded as an entrepreneur. I read somewhere that “competing with others gets you bitter, but competing with yourself makes you better,” and it totally resonates with me. When I started bobagreen, I was one of a handful of companies that made bubble tea kits. Within a month of the pandemic, boba shops had to pivot to the e-commerce model, and new bubble tea kit companies started springing up. It would’ve been so easy to get discouraged because I’m a one-woman shop competing with companies who have more funding or more support, but I stayed focused on providing the best high quality products and customer service, and only trying to build on a better version of bobagreen every day, which has served us well.

How has AHN contributed to your journey? Who have you met along the way? What problems has AHN helped solve for you?

 

AHN has been so awesome and such a supportive community! I actually first shared my story at the beginning of my bobagreen journey on AHN, and I had so many supportive comments and great feedback. It was super encouraging. Through AHN, I got to connect with Stacey Kwong from Milk + T, who was so open and helpful about running her own bubble tea shop. Most recently, I connected with Amanda Ma of Innovate Marketing Group, who tried a boba kit through finding out about us through AHN, and ended up booking us for one of her virtual events that was a lot of fun and very well received.

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