GOOD

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.

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health