2 SMU Grads Invested $50Okay To Begin A Mushroom Snack Biz


Crystal Cheng (26) and Joshua Chan (29) both studied at Singapore Management University (SMU).

They were classmates but became very good friends because of a shared interest in startups.

Before Edens Chips started together, both were founders themselves.

Crystal is the founder of the churros startup Loco Loco (but has since sold the company shares), while Joshua is currently co-founder of the standing desk company ErgoEdge.

After graduating from university, Crystal wanted to start another company, but suppressed it because of family commitments and “typical Asian parenting pressures”.

She felt she needed to get a “real job” and ended up working as a Strategic Operations Specialist at GrabFood Singapore.

She loved her job, but she also took up a sideline involving grocery gifts for businesses where she put healthy business snacks into sample packs.

“When the lockdown started, working from home gave me a lot more flexibility, and when the government announced (support measures during) the budget, I thought the (grants) were a really good opportunity to work by my side full time. Said Crystal.

She tied Joshua and neither wasted time bringing the business of her favorite food, shiitake chips, to the mass consumer market.

Sells over 100 packages in one hour

Crystal Cheng (left) and Joshua Chan (right), co-founders of Edens Chips / Image Credit: Edens Chips

Crystal and Joshua are both avowed mushroom lovers.

The duo believed that mushrooms are always a common feature in Asian dishes like braised mushroom and steamboat. They wanted to make it more accessible by turning it into a snack so that consumers could nibble on it anytime, anywhere.

Especially a healthy snack that is free from guilt.

“I’m not someone who has the discipline to go to the gym to work out or the determination to eat salad every day. I want to stay healthy with the minimum of effort and the right selection of snacks helps a lot, ”said Crystal with a laugh.

She explained that the right selection of snacks can help avoid overeating during meals (which also means you won’t suffer from food coma later) and keep you productive while you work (because snacking keeps you awake).

According to Crystal, their shiitake chips are “at least 30 percent lower in calories” than the popular fish skin made from mala or salted egg.

In addition, their chips are vacuum fried (fried over low heat) so that the core nutrients are preserved, she added.

At the start, many of Crystal’s former colleagues at GrabFood provided their support and quickly sold over 100 packages in the first hour alone.

A business that was born during COVID-19

Despite the tremendous support, many asked whether it was the right step to start a new business in these uncertain economic conditions.

Crystal acknowledged that COVID-19 presented them with business challenges.

With the COVID-19 restriction, the lack of offline presence is the biggest challenge for us. The best way to advertise or sell food is by providing free samples.

With COVID-19 there are no atrium events or exhibition fairs, and the personal touch between us and the consumer is missing at the moment. The prices for logistics in the supply chain have also increased. Therefore, local and cross-border logistics is one of our biggest cost factors.

– Crystal Cheng, co-founder of Edens Chips

However, she also felt that the pandemic offered them opportunities.

For one thing, the state budget gave them financial support and thanks to the SGUnited program, they were able to hire a small team to grow the business.

Additionally, the e-commerce boom during the breaker helped drive sales. To date, they have sold over 10,000 packets of shiitake chips.

Both Crystal and Joshua had an initial capital of S $ 50,000 invested in the business, and every single penny they made has since been reinvested to spend on incoming stocks and research and development on new flavors.

It’s only been four months since it was founded, but Crystal is confident that they will break even in early 2021.

Regardless, cash flow still remains a relevant issue for them.

For any product company, cash flow is always the biggest problem, unless cash flow is never an issue initially.

The challenge of having to buy stocks upfront and making sure our supply meets demand is the challenge we face now.

– Crystal Cheng, co-founder of Edens Chips

Shiitake chips are not common in the market

Despite the competitive snack market, Crystal is confident they will thrive as their concept is “relatively fresh”.

“We see a lot of potato chips and fish bowls in the supermarket, but rarely shiitake chips.”

Himalaya sea salt shiitake chips and Black Summer Truffle shiitake chips edens chipsHimalayan sea salt shiitake chips and black summer truffle shiitake chips / Photo credit: Edens Chips

In addition, they have interesting flavors like Himalayan Sea Salt Shiitake Chips and Black Summer Truffle Shiitake Chips.

According to Crystal, it takes at least three months to develop a flavor.

“We source our spices from all over the world. Finding the right flavor combination through laboratory testing and making sure it’s healthier than the products on the market is a lengthy and costly process, “she said.

Szechuan Mala Shiitake Chips edens ChipsSzechuan Mala Shiitake Chips / Photo credit: Edens Chips

Regardless, they are pleased to announce that they plan to launch two new flavors next month: Szechuan Mala Shiitake Chips with lotus root and chilli and Garlic Shiitake Chips that come with real garlic pieces.

As they work to expand their flavors, Edens Chips is also making efforts to bring their prices down.

Apparently they often get feedback that their price is a bit high (from S $ 16.90 for a bundle of two packs). Because of this, they are working to optimize their processes so that they can offer their products at a more competitive price.

Business with a heart

In a comment on today’s retail landscape, Crystal indicated that consumerism has moved on.

“We have so many options (and) that we can literally buy from anywhere in the world. (However) consumers today are not just looking for a product or a solution, but a vision. “

This includes what the brand stands for, what the business does, what makes a positive impact on the world, and how consumers can be part of that positive contribution by purchasing the products of that particular brand.

Eden chips x headsPartnership with MINDS / Image Credit: Edens Chips

To this end, Edens Chips is working with the Mentally Disabled Schools Movement (MINDS) to meet storage needs and fulfill their online orders.

We include a note in each package to inform customers that purchasing our shiitake chips is beyond a pack of snacks.

It’s a win-win situation because a party is hired, we have a reliable organization manage our fulfillment, and customers get their products quickly. It’s one of the better decisions we unwittingly made.

– Crystal Cheng, co-founder of Edens Chips

Crystal shared their great vision for Edens Chips, saying that all they want is to make healthy snacking an easy and enjoyable experience.

They plan to maintain their product line niche and enter the offline markets in Singapore before expanding to Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

Looking back on her entrepreneurial journey to date, Crystal is fully aware that entrepreneurship is a game of chance – you never know if it will ever work out.

Regardless, Crystal jumped both feet into the deep water because she doesn’t want to regret not having done anything.

“(If you don’t try, you’ll never find out. If you don’t know if the idea is feasible, give it a try.”

“If it fails, you have wasted no time. The time you spent (working on the idea) gave you the answer you were looking for – it’s all about perspective, ”she mused.

Selected image source: Edens Chips




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