Annie Cheng is active in the Entrepreneurship Organization (EO) chapter in Seattle Accelerator The program empowers entrepreneurs with tools, communities and accountability needed to thrive their businesses.
We asked Cheng, the founder of Tables are less movedWhere she organizes small group international culinary tours, shops, the way she made a major turning point to save her business. Her pivot is recently listed on New York Magazine Among industry favorites include Gordon Ramsay and Sur La Table. Here’s what she shared.
What caused you to start your company?
It is an evolution of experiences. Many of my relatives are small business owners. From a young age, I have been exposed to the value of creating something, and the hard work and challenges it takes to succeed. After many career changes, I have come to a point where I feel that others can derive value from what has shaped my life: meaningful interactions and building relationships. us when traveling. I want to share those relationships and experiences with others.
Why are you joining EO Accelerator?
I have experienced other people, and then for myself, how lonely a businessman can be. Not only do I want “real business school” simulation resources to help me learn where I can and how I can improve as a business leader and owner, but I also want a team of fellow Can empathize with my difficulties and the challenges I develop on a daily basis.
How did the pandemic disrupt your company, and what pivot did you make in response?
International boutique tours run by Table Less Traveled emphasize building local relationships through culinary experiences. We dine at local homes, visit family-owned farms and learn how to produce a variety of handmade and organic products in Italy, Peru, Malaysia and Japan.
The pandemic has completely halted our industry. We’re in for a year of growth into 2020, with the most rides we’ve ever sold, excited about the new travelers we’ll be meeting. Our revenue has stopped. Refund request poured in. And, as many other companies have gone through, overhead doesn’t magically disappear.
Due to the early impact on the travel industry, I look forward to finding ways to continue to provide a number of services that are consistent with our mission. Now, over a year of pandemic, virtual experience exploded. But as of early March 2020, they are not yet popular.
When I think about what customers say is the most valuable in our travels, it focuses on relationships. I wanted to recreate our immersive, interactive, in-depth experience in a virtual dimension, with the food being the link between those relationships.
On March 18, 2020, we launch our first virtual, interactive cooking class with a friend of mine, Alain, who lives in Pistoia, Italy. We used to walk around the Sant’Ambrogio market with him, picking tomatoes and onions for his delicious sauce. But that day, we got together on Zoom and taught four friendly faces how to roll their own fresh pasta in the safety of their home kitchen.
Our classes quickly became popular when people’s lives were disrupted and routines turned upside down. Learn how to make pizza at noon on Wednesday? Sure! Take the kids (don’t go to school anyway)! But as families returned to the “new normal” and the summer break began, our public classes noticed a decline in participation.
At the same time, we are receiving more and more requests from people who have joined our public classes, saying they want to join a class with their team from work. We set up private classes and have since found a lot of fun bringing together groups far away to try something new and exciting, while also getting the one-and-a-half hour chance to “ to travel ”somewhere in the world and run away from their homes just for a little while.
What challenges did you overcome while implementing that spindle?
So many, so much! Where to start? For me personally, it took a lot change your mindset. First, the popularity of our classes increased so rapidly that our small group couldn’t handle it all. We have hired contractors to organize classes, assist with administration, and create an ecommerce website. I had to learn to let go of a lot of control. I want every experience to be seamless and perfect. But reinventing your entire business in a month – with no firm need for a new audience – requires you to be able to learn. We used an iterative process, testing ideas with small investments to find out what worked and what didn’t. We have grown and developed.
Is Accelerator’s learning day valuable in the process?
Right before this transformation, I attended Accelerator’s “Everyone’s Day”. The company’s first core value has always been “We are people.” That is the heart of our company. We are human, our business is built on human connections, building relationships, sharing experiences, stories, moments of memories and supporting each other in moments. tragic engraving.
Everyone has always been the core of the business but I don’t always know how to present it clearly and thread it through our culture. Accelerator taught me the importance of building that core value as part of who we are from the inside out. It starts with me, our team, our partners, our participants and our tourists.
Accelerator gave me the tools to make tough decisions based on those core human values. Our job interviews focus on whether a candidate is a fit for our culture, and our team assesses potential new partners around their child focus. The previous one did not. In tough times, our financial decisions don’t take precedence over profits.
What’s next for your company?
We are expanding our offerings for an end-to-end experience with recipe sets for private events, partnering with small businesses in the wine and spirits industry, and repeating ideas. on safe, engaging travel that we hope to launch in the summer – for both small groups and independent travelers.
We look forward to returning to travel, meeting friends face-to-face and introducing new travelers to the unique experiences we have created with individuals around the world!