Auckland food manufacturer Tasty Pot has pleased New Zealanders' tastebuds, now its owners want to win over Asian markets.
Founded by husband and wife team Natalie and Andrew Vivian in 2010, Tasty Pot Co produces a range of 11 heat and eat convenience soups and meals at its facility in Penrose, Auckland.
"We try and make it as you would make it yourself in your own kitchen," Andrew Vivian said. He said Tasty Pot has found a partner to represent and distribute its products in Asia with Hong Kong and Taiwan earmarked as the likely entry markets in about six months.
The business employed 12 staff and was growing rapidly with revenue doubling each year.
This week has been the biggest so far for Tasty Pot, having produced about 15,000 pots, he said.
"We started with big aspirations so we took a space that was significantly bigger than what we needed at the time. We've got loads of capacity."
In 2010, Tasty Pot won the Massey University Supreme Award at the New Zealand Food Awards and last year its "five grain superpot" was named the Healthy Food Guide 2013 best convenience meal.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
We always knew we wanted to do our own thing, which probably stems from both having entrepreneurial parents. We found an idea we both loved, and thought it would have great potential.
What's the best way of knowing whether an idea is worth pursuing?
Learning to listen - most importantly to your consumers and your partners within the trade. Never pretend to assume you know what they want - they're more than willing to tell you if you just take the time to ask.
How important is market validation?
It's huge. And it's difficult. You can twist your mind modelling potential scenarios which, don't get me wrong, you have to do. But finding that balance between the theory and the practical is the challenge. Just because something looks right on paper it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
You've got to make the time to work on the business, not just in it. It's very easy to run around all day putting out fires, there are plenty of those in a start up business. But if you're not running in the right direction you're wasting your time and energy. Make sure you're finding the time to work on the bigger picture.
Describe one attribute you consider essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Passion - our hearts are in this business. It's about choosing something that you truly believe in, that gets you out of bed early with a smile on your face and grit to handle whatever the day might throw at you.
What have you sacrificed to be an entrepreneur?
We've put everything into Tasty Pot. Probably the hardest thing about that, especially with a young family, is the financial security that you sacrifice.
What have you gained from being an entrepreneur?
Aside from the grey hair, probably a better understanding of what's important. Both from a business perspective in trying to maximise your output, and from a personal perspective in balancing work and family. It's amazing how much you can achieve when you're forced to constantly evaluate what's important.
Who is your "business guru", or who do you admire, and why?
Our parents. Both have done their own thing. To see their passion, hard work and integrity has certainly been an inspiration for us, and the support they've given us with Tasty Pot has been immeasurable.
What is one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?
Our love for good food was ignited during an incredible two year sojourn in the south of France. This experience affected us in more ways than we could have imagined. We realised we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We decided to start our own business.