Jen Liao: Co-Founder & President of MìLà

Episode 444

MìLà Co-Founder and President, of the absolutely yummy Chinese food company, knew she had to innovate in order to stay afloat during those crazy months of the pandemic. It was when she and her Co-Founder and husband started freezing batches of handmade soup dumplings for local deliveries that they realized instant product-market-fit. Soon this led to nationwide demand as consumers all over became obsessed with the restaurant-quality soup dumplings that were delicious and easy to make. MìLà has expanded the offering of frozen Chinese food to include many other items and the rest is history! Today we hear from this incredible Founder as she shares how the innovative food brand is scaling and succeeding. This episode is filled with so many lessons and a ton of inspiration. Sit back and enjoy this incredible episode now of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everybody, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest. Here, we have Jen Liao, who is the co founder and president of MìLà. And if you have not heard about MìLà, you were hiding under a rock somewhere, because it is the coolest company and so, so yummy. So you absolutely need to hear a lot more about it. Plus a terrific founder co founder, I should say, who is not only the co founder and president of this company, but also an entrepreneur in her own right. So MìLà has actually started during the pandemic, after she and her husband and co founder were doing an incredible restaurant and decided that they needed to pivot so decided to innovate freezing batches of the handmade soup dumplings for local deliveries up in the Seattle region. And word and demand spread like wildfire fire and MìLà was bored. So we’re gonna hear a lot more about these incredible restaurant quality soup dumplings. And of course, they’ve expanded it to many, many more things, you could find it in lots of places, including Costco, direct to consumer is kind of where they started, but we’ll hear a lot more about that. So, Yan is here with us today. Welcome, Jen.

Jen Liao 2:09
Thank you so much. And thank you for having me today.

Kara Goldin 2:13
Absolutely. So before we get into hearing more about MìLà and your journey and building it, I would love to hear about you. And what were you doing before even the restaurant started? I mean, did you always think that you were going to be an entrepreneur?

Jen Liao 2:27
No, this was definitely more unexpected. So before the restaurant has started, I was actually working in health tech. So living in the Bay Area, Organa, health tech company, really in the Health Tech biopharma world, so very, very different, both in role and industry. So it’s been really fun to get up to speed and learn this new thing.

Kara Goldin 2:50
So how did you get to Seattle, then what brought you out of the Bay Area and up to Seattle?

Jen Liao 2:57
Yeah, so I actually grew up in Seattle, Bellevue area, middle school and high school. So my parents were still here. And our friends were still here. And so it felt like there was a really great support that work. And also there is a very strong Asian Asian American community. And our first food for the restaurant is something called a syndrome about which is a pan FIDE soup bow, which is as delicious at it as it sounds. And we really wanted to be somewhere where there would be some core audience that really knew what this was and could appreciate it. And so Seattle felt like a really good place to start that.

Kara Goldin 3:36
So going from health tech to starting a restaurant, how did that come about? Where did that idea come from?

Jen Liao 3:43
Yeah, so we actually have a third co founder named Norman, and he had worked on a chain of pokey restaurants. And for his first one, he asked, Do you want to join me in this venture, and I said, I’m allergic to fish. And I don’t know anything about food. So I’ll probably pass on this. It’s not exactly the best fit for B. And then after it was doing really well, he asked a second time for their second location. And I said, I’m still allergic to fish, so probably not. But here’s this person that I’m dating. This is his favorite food. We’ve been to LA, New York, and we can’t find a really good version of this. I’m not sure why. But I’d love for you to make it so that we can come and eat it. How about how about you do some like Chinese street foods? Do it really well. And then we’ll come all the time. So it really started there. And he continued to call me pretty much every week just to brainstorm Oh, if we were to do this, what would it look like if we were to do this stop wish location. And then after a couple of months, somehow I’m deeply involved in this concept. And so that’s how the restaurant was born. And for the first year, I was flying back every two or three weekends to work the whole weekend, kind of in between the job to just make sure the restaurant was going Okay.

Kara Goldin 5:01
So for those who live in the Bay Area, or LA or Seattle, or you know, big cities, I guess in, especially in the US, street food is, is kind of it’s become normal. It’s cool. It’s, there’s amazing, amazing, different types of street food from all over the world. How would you describe that to people who have never really experienced this concept of street food? Like your friend is asking you? What is street food? Exactly?

Jen Liao 5:30
Yeah. So I mean, I, I imagine. And that’s actually a good question about the origin of the term. But I imagine a lot of it has to do with the fact that these foods, they’re cooked very quickly and easily. And then they’re in a product format, where you would eat them on a street. And typically, there’s an entire street of these stalls. So, for example, on China, if you go there’s an entire street, there’s individual stalls, typically, each stall specializes in a single item, or like one category of products, they do it really well, very deliciously. And then it’s in a format where you can take it and go and eat it on the street as you’re kind of going down the street and browsing. So a lot of the time, these are, you know, pretty carb, heavy fried products that just because that’s the format of, you know, you’re out on on the street, and you’re eating it. And it’s at all times of day, but in China, a lot of it is also at midnight. So it’s called a midnight snack, which is like your fourth meal. And these are really popular areas to go for that fourth meal, midnight snack.

Kara Goldin 6:37
So how many items did you have when you started the physical restaurant,

Jen Liao 6:43
we actually only had one item, and a couple of slides. So that was pretty crazy. But the reason why we did that is for the syndrome bow pan fried soup bow, it’s cooked in a very large circular cast iron pan, and you cook about 70 to 80 of them at one time. And then you have to sell them within 20 minutes before the soup congeals. And the outside is not as crispy. And so because of this type of factor, we really wanted to make sure that the focus was on this item, and that we could deliver it in a really good way so that when you come here, you know exactly what you’re getting. We really specialize in this thing, as is typical street food food stall. And we could sell out of it pretty quickly and have good operations, we did quickly roll in something called a jumping, which is a crepe wrap. That’s also a very typical kind of Chinese street food item. And so we had these two items going for a very long time. And then we layered on other things like noodles to test out especially after we had started the E commerce side of things, we will roll in new items and test them on our menu at the restaurant.

Kara Goldin 7:55
So we’re prior to the pandemic, you were doing direct to consumer at all or nothing, nothing. Yeah, tell us that story. So the pandemic rolls around. You’re running how many restaurants at this point is just

Jen Liao 8:11
one restaurant, a fast casual counter service restaurant, and the pandemic rolls around. And we had to close the restaurant for about three or four weeks. We did reopen and it does does still exist right now. But during that time, our chef started experimenting with frozen soup dumplings. So we looked at okay, soup dumplings is lot easier. We have seen frozen dumplings, maybe frozen soup dumplings, which is a cousin of this ginger bow is also a format that could be done well. And it does exist in Chinese supermarkets. But it’s kind of been the same product for a very long time. And for us, we really wanted to see if we could replicate something that was closer to restaurant quality, where it’s very thin dough, it doesn’t leak. It’s a little bit you know, stretchy and resistant. And then the soup and the filling are really high quality, because we have, you know, a restaurant background for the food itself. So when this started, we started to make it ourselves, we put it into Ziploc bags, brown paper bags, and just basically drove around dropping them off on people’s doorsteps. And then it actually became super popular. We use like Google Forms and Venmo in the beginning. And then we expanded to a little bit more of a built out website and all of that. But as we went, we just wanted to make sure that every single step of the way that we scaled it maintained this really high quality consistent product.

Kara Goldin 9:41
So doing going from a restaurant to actually starting a well first of all going from a restaurant to actually packaging it and delivering it around town. That was the whole new business for you. But then you took that next step and you decided to have A packaged frozen, which everybody needs to think about that the complexities of of that is very, very difficult during a time when, you know, the world was changing clearly, you guys, were not daunted by the fact that nobody in their right mind was supposed to be starting a business during this time, but not Gen Gen decided, this is what we’re going to do what gave you the courage to do that?

Jen Liao 10:30
I think probably a lot of the portion is luck and night, every day, where we don’t come from the industry. And so we actually don’t know what is already in place or not. And so we were more driven by here’s the product that we want to put out. And here’s the demand that we’re seeing, and basically step by step unlocking all of these different pieces in order to scale according to the demand. And so we didn’t start out saying like, Okay, we want this type of product, this type of good, there’s no one who does frozen products, there’s no infrastructure in place, how do we even do this, we know it’s not done, people don’t do it for a reason, let’s just not even approach it. I think because we started out for me, oh, we’re just doing Ziploc bags, we want to make sure that we can, you know, keep people employed if they want a job, and they want to keep working during this time. And that was like the first step for problem solving. And so each step of the way, we’re kind of just solving for that immediate next problem, in order to fulfill the demand that we were seeing. And I think once we got the momentum, we really started to understand the lack of infrastructure, probably about three or four months in when we started to expand outside of Washington. And so then it was no longer like, oh, we can go drive this directly to someone’s home. And it wasn’t like, we can just, you know, run the machine for a little bit longer. And like, we’ll just add on labor, we had to actually think about scaling. And at that point, we started to discover frozen shipping is not a thing, direct to consumer. And like ice cream, some ice cream companies do it. It’s really for subscribers, because you have to buy eight pints of ice cream at one time, and they’re shipping these. And so it only makes sense if you have like, you know, high AODV average order value, and you have a lot of volume in order to make that work. And our soup dumplings we discovered are as sensitive as ice cream to melting, which is unfortunate, but fortunate, unfortunate in the sense that it’s actually very difficult to have some of these three peels for logistics to agree to deliver and ship our food, because it’s as sensitive as ice cream. But now that we’ve done that hard work kind of jumping forward, we kind of can’t ship anything frozen, because we have the highest kind of threshold for what we need for frozen shipping.

Kara Goldin 12:59
Yeah, so how did you ultimately managed that? Did you actually create your own? Frozen shipping? I mean, were you doing it on your own? Or were you able to actually find somebody and help them figure that out?

Jen Liao 13:12
Yeah, so we did call a lot of different companies, some which are large corporations, and we know that they do frozen goods for grocery. So we’re like, okay, there’s some infrastructure that exists, can we convince them to do direct to consumer. And I think as a lot of people discover, even UPS or FedEx, they weren’t really built out to have a primarily residential shipping network. It was mostly, you know, for businesses. And that’s how they built out their network. And it took a little while for them to switch or swing over to be able to service all the residents that were now home. Same thing for all the shipping companies for frozen. And what we did find was one company that had several hubs that could do for us in DVC shipping, however, we were finding about 25% failure rate within a few months, which is not a good customer experience at all. And so we knew we had to switch pretty quickly away from that. So we did find a few different independent, three peels. And we built out the SOPs together with them, we figured out okay, how can we get you better rates on all of the items that you have? How can we get you better shipping rates? How can we help negotiate, and by doing that they got benefit from working with us. And they really liked that we were very involved and data driven, and we could help them improve their operations as well. So it was definitely a labor of love and very like manual hands on in the beginning. And we expanded to six warehouses pretty quickly because we did want to have full today ground coverage. air shipping is fast, but it’s also very expensive. And unfortunately the issue is like if it misses the cut off window or doesn’t get on that flight, then you’re waiting an entire one more day. And it’s like sometimes lost, you know, just like luggage As and you just don’t know when it will arrive. So it’s actually less reliable in some sense than ground shipping. And so we’ve looked at a coverage map figured out, okay, here, here’s how we have very reliable today ground shipping coverage, and basically worked on building out that network.

Kara Goldin 15:19
That’s amazing. I remember when we were first starting the company that I found a tent, we were trying to produce a product that every co Packer said was impossible. So without preservatives, and and this is 810 years ago now. But everybody said, No, you have to if you’re using real fruit, you have to put preservatives in it. And we were like, Why? Because we both came, my husband and I came from tech. And so we had no experience, but we just kept asking why why I bet I hear a little bit of that in what you guys were saying to Well, why is that? You know, and I’m sure there were a ton of people who just thought, Well, these guys are clueless that I don’t need to, you know, they don’t know what they’re doing. But then there’s a couple of them that probably gave you some of their time where they wanted to think about the problem. And those are the people that you know, ultimately are willing to kind of learn with you and help you grow. So I’d love to, is that kind of what happened?

Jen Liao 16:21
Yes, exactly. So I think that is a key thing is kind of never giving up on the why. And going to first principles, that’s actually a core value for us at the company. And in the beginning, when we were doing this, you know, restaurant quality soup dumpling, when we started to scale, we actually did look at co packers code manufacturers, and a lot of them would say, here’s how we do it. Here’s the standard, we’re not changing anything for you. Obviously, we’re startup, they can’t change everything for somebody who has no volume. So I totally understand that. But they’re like, we can’t do what you’ve asked for. It’s just not possible. And we just keep pushing it when that happens. Like, okay, maybe that might be the case. And we will discover that. But we want to try everything we can to have data points to understand if truly that is the answer or not. And so that’s like, right now we’re vertically integrated, we manufacture our own soup dumplings because of that, because we were like, Okay, we just really want this thing down, we’re going to figure out the formulation for it, we’re going to tweak the machine for it, we’re going to just like try many, many variations to see if we can get to this product that we want to stand behind. Here’s another example is like sauce jars. We have chili crust, which is oily, and a lot of the chili Chris out there or just oily sauces in general, they can leak. So ours was leaking in transit. And we still have comments about it, we’re you know, moving over now. But the oil less leaks in transit. And then after you spin it out, it’ll leak down the side and onto your refrigerator shelf, for example, or wherever you’re storing it. And when we looked at okay, how can we figure out a jar that works? I think the obvious answer was everyone does glass and everyone does aluminum cans. And that would have worked if we weren’t a USDA certified facility where you can’t have glass in that facility. And so we’re like, this isn’t possible, is there a different format? And the first answer we encountered was no, you have to do this to prevent leaking. And I’m like, but this, there’s salad dressings out there that have very innovative bottles. And there’s no way that this is the only answer and kind of looking outside of what is directly in front or like directly related to the item that we’re producing and drawing inspiration from other areas. And then you’re like, Well, this was possible. So it must be that this other thing can be possible as well, how do we get to it? And I think maybe this is not necessarily the right way to keep scaling. But we tend to say we’re just going to figure it out on our own. Maybe it’s a custom solution. But we need to get to first principles on what exactly we want to solve for and how do we do that?

Kara Goldin 19:06
It’s so fun listening to you talk about this. I mean, it’s there’s huge challenges right along the way, there are days when you wake up and you know that you’ve got a big challenge in front of you, but it’s like I always say that entrepreneurship is like solving a puzzle without the picture. Right? You’re sometimes you’re you know, it’s a project to work on where that those are the entrepreneurs that I think are the most successful that just keep digging, keep digging, and, you know, they they know the answer is there somewhere even if somebody hasn’t stumbled upon the same thing and solved it before them. They’re just going to do it. And I hear a lot of that in your explanation. So it’s very, very exciting. Now what was your husband doing? Before this?

Jen Liao 19:52
He was in finance. So she had a totally different he had done like the banking PE hedge fund On route. So also very different. And I think when we had started this, this actually is one of the reasons why I think we were able to scale the way that we have is it comes from very strong business and finance lens of is this healthy? How can we incorporate this into our model? What are we investing? How much are we investing into resources and growth? And what is responsible growth? And so that’s just kind of a constant that we’ve had all this way is is informed by this piece.

Kara Goldin 20:35
So how long did it take you from that moment? When you decided you were actually going to put this in a package outside of delivering it around Seattle? How long did it take you from that moment to actually shipping? I guess, because that was direct to consumer was the first step.

Jen Liao 20:55
Yeah, exactly. So I would say we started to ship it even two months in. So it was like within a 10 mile radius. And then it was greater Seattle area, you know, even within one month, just because people started to refer to their friends and their friends would live a little bit further away. And at one point, we actually serviced, I think about 10%, of this island called Bainbridge Island. It’s right off the coast, right off of Seattle. And we literally would take a car driver on a ferry to a pickup spot for all of the residents at Bainbridge to come get it. And then somebody took an entire cooler, full of our soup dumplings, drove it to an airport, flew it to Alaska, because they wanted to share it with their friends there. And I felt like these moments were really our aha moments of like, there’s something here. I don’t know why people really want this, but they’re willing to go to extreme lengths to have this product. And so we need to ramp that up. So within two months, we were starting to figure out the shipping piece. And then it was about six months into 2020 When we started that we were national coverage. So that was still a mix of like ground and air shipping. And then we would just adjust shipping rates based on it.

Kara Goldin 22:14
I love it. So you recently partnered with celebrity. Can you talk to us a little bit about that, and how that all came about? And who am I talking about?

Jen Liao 22:25
Yes. So we partner with Seema Liu. And she’s in the latest Barbie movie before this. He was also in the Marvel movie Shang chi. And what happened was our first round of VC funding, they were able to find somebody who, who knew somebody who knew somebody to basically ship a package to him and his family. And his parents actually ended up eating the soup dumplings before she had a chance to even try it. And they said, Oh, wow, these are really good. Like they are super authentic, high quality, and we would eat it again. And so he actually ended up putting in a small check as an angel investor before he tried the product just based on his parents stamp of approval. And then over the next year, I met with his team and manager quite a few times, just to understand, you know, like, is there something we could potentially collaborate on? What is he interested in? Is there something that makes sense for both of us? So finally, a year later, we met him and sat down for a conversation. And I think we felt like it was such a good match, because he was also intellectually curious about it. So the entire conversation was like, how do you do this? How do you do that? Why are you doing this? And it just felt like it matched what we, you know, what our style was in terms of building the company. And so then we started to talk about a deeper partnership. And now he’s our Chief Content Officer.

Kara Goldin 23:55
Oh, I love it. So great. So you describe yourself? I was reading an article about being a third culture kid. And I loved this and how that perspective has informed the brand’s story and growth. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Jen Liao 24:15
Yeah. So third culture, is your first culture is your parents culture. Typically, it’s another country with a different language. And then your second culture is where you currently reside, which would be the US in this case. And third, culture is basically an amalgamation of both of those, and how both of these very different cultures and perspectives and form, you know, how you think and what you like and how you behave now. And so for us, we actually didn’t really understand this term before we started this ecommerce side of things. And along the way, we’re like, Okay, we are Chinese. We’re also Chinese American. What does this mean? What do our products mean? There’s a lot of conversation around What is authentic? And what does authenticity mean? And for us, we started with very traditional Chinese item like soup dumplings, and then we have noodles. And along the way, we just kept questioning. Okay, but do we only do traditional Chinese dishes? Is that kind of the scope of what we would potentially do? Or would we try other things. And the first item that came up was actually vegan soup dumplings, or gluten free soup dumplings. This is our number one requested item from people on social media. And we started to ask ourselves, like, is this authentic to us? If we do a vegan soup dumpling? This hasn’t existed? Really anywhere? And definitely not China right now. So is that an authentic item? Or is this part of people saying like, Oh, there’s, you know, appropriation or gentrification, or whatever that might be? And so we really tried to approach this question with intellectual honesty of like, whether this is authentic or not. And for us, understanding Third Culture really had that, I think, answer for us, which is like we are Chinese American, and American culture. This is an audience and this is what people want. And in China, if there were people who previously were vegetarian or vegan, and this is something that’s important to them, this also would have developed in China at that time, and maybe it will in the future as well. And so then like that is authentic to us as individuals, and our experience and our heritage. So this makes sense for us. And other dishes that we’re looking at, it doesn’t have to be something that is 100%, traditional, or classic or like this is the way it’s done in this region, which we do do some of those items. And we, you know, talk about a lot of the background and education around it. But then we also will be very innovative around other ideas, where it is a mix of, you know, American cuisine mixed in with us, or even other international other country cuisines mixed into it. Because while we’re here, it’s a melting pot of these cultures, and we are naturally influenced by it. And that is kind of our informed lived experience.

Kara Goldin 27:18
So you aren’t the first frozen Asian food that’s out there. But you’re absolutely delicious and yummy. When a consumer is thinking about buying quality, frozen items, I mean, what I guess, Asian food, Chinese food, like, what should they be aware of? I mean, what what’s been kind of surprising about the category, I think, especially since you came in from the outside, right, and you’re sort of like looking at all the different options, and you’re feeling confident that you can go and start something unique and different. What is so different about what you guys are doing?

Jen Liao 27:55
Yeah, so I think in a lot of mass conventional grocery stores, there’s a lot of American Chinese food, which is its own category. And I think it should be its own category, and I think is very special, from you know, the history of how it evolved in the US. But that is definitely the dominant item that is in grocery stores right now. And then you have Chinese grocery stores that have a lot of the items that we are taking a look at as well. And I think what is surprising is a lot of the infrastructure does not overlap for these two types of channels, which is very interesting. So there’s a lot of suppliers and vendors out there that have ingredients for Chinese restaurants, or maybe Chinese grocery stores. But they’re actually not built out at all for American grocery stores. And they have different certifications, different regulations, and different you know, consistency, because restaurant is very different. And so they might be servicing a very large volume, but it’s more local, and there’s more variation. And it doesn’t have exactly the same processes that are required for some of the American channels that are out there. And so with this kind of split, it’s evolved in a very different way. So even when we released our noodles, this actually was something that was so hard we had to change 10 different suppliers before we launched because we kept like getting one step further and then like oh, this is produced next to egg noodles and egg noodles isn’t egg is an allergen. And then how do we you know, make sure that the right protocols are in place in order to have this certified for what we need. And, you know, like, because they’re not set up the way that all the other channels for American grocery are, they can’t really change their entire operations for us when it’s also a request of, you know, one portion of what they’re doing, and I just hadn’t really thought about that or expected it at all as we went into this. But I think in terms of options. What we tried to do from a product perspective is we want to be value add, and have a step function, better product than anything that’s out there, including options in Chinese grocery stores. So then we’re looking at, okay, there might be options there. But is there a way that we can do something different, or do something better? By approaching it the way that we do? And I think because we’re starting fresh, we have a chance to invest different dollars to innovating on the product itself, and improving on quality potentially, and I think like for the different audiences, even the Chinese audience, I think they’re willing to pay for and willing to try these items, if there’s something different about it. So that’s kind of what we’re approaching it as

Kara Goldin 30:52
when you are going into grocery, and you’re obviously available in many locations now. But I bet it was very difficult, right? You’re coming from nowhere. You’ve got a restaurant in one part of the country. But and you’re going in and trying to negotiate and there’s like, oh, there’s no room. Right? How do you get over that hump?

Jen Liao 31:16
Yeah, so we actually waited and to roll out in retail until this year. And we’ve had a couple of partners kind of asking us along the way. And I think that’s been amazing that they’ve been willing to partner with us and wait, and like, you know, help us figure out what is the right product to get into retail? And so I think, along the way, we’ve just figured out, okay, we’re waiting to get into retail, how do we get the best product that’s out there? There’s a lot of unknowns, like if it is in a frozen aisle, and people don’t know that soup dumplings are sensitive to melting? Will it melt on the way home? Or if they don’t know how to use a steamer basket? Well, they know how to steam it. And I think it was good for us to wait this whole time because then we had a chance to, you know, scale it on DTC. There’s a lot of online resources on our social media on videos of like, how to steam a soup dumpling? What kind of tools can you use? What alternatives can you use? How should it look? And so now we’ve started to educate, I think the population that’s interested. And even if you find us in a grocery store, it’s very easy to find these resources as you go on this journey. If we had rolled out earlier in retail, I don’t think it would have been the same result for us, and readiness of the consumer population out there.

Kara Goldin 32:37
So prior to starting your company, you both you and your co founders, were doing other things. And do you think that doing other things prior to starting a company was, I guess gave you the courage? gave you some education around business that you’re happy that you did that versus, you know, just starting this company sooner?

Jen Liao 33:06
Yes, definitely. I very much agree with that. I think the biggest thing is no job can fully prepare you for another job. There’s like some things that translate and a lot of it is soft qualities that will translate like, how do you work hard? How do you sit down at your desk and do three hours of continuous work? How do you manage a team or respond to things that are out of your control? And so I think those are some of the lessons that are a takeaway, but I think a lot of our team, because of this, we’re less tied to have you done this exact job in this industry before. And as more Do you know how to ask the right questions and approach the problem to be able to solve it. For this sometimes really deep experience in this industry really helps like manufacturing, frozen food, probably very difficult to figure that out if you haven’t done anything like that before. So it really depends on the position. But I think because of this experience, we’ve been able to draw in different qualities. So for my husband, Caleb, because of the finance background, he’s been able to build that foundation really well for us. And then for me, I think I did more on the sales and consumer side at the previous company. And so I had some idea of like, Oh, here’s what’s potentially possible, here’s when we need to move on. Here’s how we can operate and manage teams or managed peers or manage up or like all of these different pieces inform how we might build the culture of the company. And that’s been really important because your company is the people.

Kara Goldin 34:45
Definitely. So last question and you can answer it any way. But what is either the best advice that you’ve ever received or what advice would you give to somebody who’s thinking about or launching their own business? Or maybe they’re in the beginning and sort of you’re a little further along. And knowing what you know, today, what advice would you give?

Jen Liao 35:13
I think, maybe two different pieces. One is, don’t wait to get started. I think it does, nothing has to be perfect to try it out. There’s lots of ways to get small data points that indicate that you’re onto something. And it might not be a perfect metric. But it’s a proxy of like, in directional of okay, is this something that people want? Or is it not? Is this possible or not. And I think there’s lots of ways to get started. And a lot of people might wait to do it, because they’re trying to perfect something. And then I think the other piece that maybe goes hand in hand is like, nobody knows everything. And so you don’t have to feel like as a founder or CEO, for example, that you have to have all these skills and capabilities and experience. And importantly is knowing what the gaps are and building a team around you that is able to fulfill all the different pieces that aren’t needed. So it doesn’t have to be one person.

Kara Goldin 36:14
Totally agree. Well, thank you so much, Jan, everybody needs to go and find MìLà or go to the website and check it out. We’ll have all the info in the show notes too. But really appreciate you taking the time, Jan. And it’s such a terrific company and products so yummy. And the steamer as well as is absolutely amazing. So I had used one before, but they’re not as difficult as you may think, to use. So they’re really, really great. And they certainly are. I think they’re better than most restaurant quality. So you describe it that way. But I think it’s actually much, much better. And so, so good. So thank you again, Jen.

Jen Liao 37:00
Thank you so much. It was wonderful to chat with you.

Kara Goldin 37:03
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