Sherpa'd: The Importance of Mentors to a Startup

How the Boba Guys found their mentors.

When we first thought about starting a business, we did a pretty extensive audit of all the boba tea shops in the Bay Area to learn what we liked and what we might be able to improve upon. We explored three aspects of the boba business: the product, service, and branding/marketing. Many of the establishments, including our favorite boba places, had some combination of the three, but perhaps not the full trifecta.

In order to to develop the blueprint for our own business, we sought out advice from experts beyond the boba world hoping to build our own suite of best practices.

San Francisco's Mission District has become a hotbed for many new restaurants and popups—and because we live, work, and eat there, we knew that’s where we wanted Boba Guys to be based. It was there that we became friends with the owners of Ken Ken Ramen (our most frequent pop-up location). Over lunch, we would have chats about what it would be like to start a food business. At the time, Ken Ken Ramen was only open as a popup in rented restaurant space a day or two a week. Now they’ve opened up their very own restaurant!

Over lunchtime noodles, the owners would give us a healthy dose of reality: Stories of long hours, difficult customers, one-star Yelp reviews, endless streams of city ordinances—the list goes on. The intense and occasionally challenging discussions were much like our boba brewing process—hot in the beginning, but with a slow simmer at the end. Whether intentional or not, we had ourselves awesome mentors. When Boba Guys finally launched, the Ken Ken owners were the sherpas who had already identified and caution-taped all the pitfalls.

We also sought out other opinions, from Andrew’s business school friends to another local popup-turned full-fledged business, Wise Sons Deli. A couple superfans who have attended every event thus far are our informal taste-tasters and chief barometers, providing us with helpful recommendations. We even had a former barista work with us on our drink operations.

The lesson from all of this is that behind every successful business is a great group of mentors. We do not know where we would be without them. If you are in the same place we are and are unsure about aspects of starting and running a business, we encourage you to seek out business owners you admire and ask for a bit of their time so that you can pick their brains. People love sharing and giving you a piece of their mind!

See you next week!

The Boba Guys share their adventures in food enterprise every Monday.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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