the story of yumbox: a start-up trying to revolutionize the way we cook & eat!

Yumbox has two grand objectives:
1. Make the world tastier
2. Let the world fall in love with cooking

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The First Supper

Hello world,

We've been working hard to ready Yumbox for a preliminary sale next week in Reynolds Club. This means that we've been busy working out the logistics of packaging and making sure our product abides by all laws and regulations. This also means we've been having fun testing the product to make sure it's easy to cook (so you don't have to wave a towel at the smoke detector like Richard did) and delicious (no problems there). So, without further ado, here's a glimpse at our first Yumbox dinner:

It all started on Tuesday afternoon before finals week. After printing out labels and grabbing my camera, Richard and I headed to his apartment to ready the kitchen for testing.

The cook for the night would be Dan Park, Richard's roommate. Dan is a decently competent cook but by no means a master and, thus, we thought he would make the perfect candidate for the first trial. Furthermore, Dan is an incredible narrator, and his comments, as captured on webcam (as you can see form the picture), really helped us see what went well and what didn't with our current recipes.

Our first dish was Basil Chicken and Dan cooked it without trouble. As far as taste, I'll just say that it was almost completely finished while it sat on the countertop waiting to be served.

Our second dish was Ma Po Tofu. This was probably the easiest dish to make but also the favorite of the night.

Again, thanks to Dan for cooking the entire meal. Here he is, hard at work, completing my personal favorite dish...

Sichuan Green Beans

The last Yumbox was also the most difficult to cook. The Black Beef Tenderloin was incredibly tender and very flavorful but we also found that we needed to adjust the recipe a bit to keep it from burning (Richard made it again the next day, and it turned out perfectly).

Finally, since we had about a dozen people to feed we also had fun making some dumplings. In fact, it was so much fun that it got us thinking about about creating a Yumbox dumpling-making kit. You'll see it soon!

All in all, the test was a great success and really helped us see the potential of Yumbox. With Dan at the helm, we learned a great deal about how our product could be improved and where it worked well. Everyone truly enjoyed the meal and even though many of us had just met, by the end of dinner, we were all friends.

Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone for helping test the product! We have more recipes coming very soon and you'll be able to try out Yumbox next week at Reynolds Club.


Friday, March 12, 2010

A first glimpse at the product!

Hey everyone,

It's been quite a while since our last update, but Richard's been very busy talking to grocery stores, other entrepreneurs, our restaurant partner, and packaging manufacturers!
Actually, he's been doing a lot more than talking and we have a lot to show for it. Yes, this means pictures, and not just pictures of other people's packages (that sounds inappropriate...) or drawings of boxes, but rather actual food, packages, and labels!

From top to bottom: Basil Chicken, Ma Po Tofu, Sichuan Green Beans, Black Beef Tenderloin, Black Beef Tenderloin

I hope you think they look as delicious as I do!

Thanks for reading,

P.S. Not being able to resist, we later cooked the meal and had a little Yumbox trial run/dinner party. More on that in a later post!

P.P.S. We have a facebook group! Become a fan!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing Lanes

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Here are the recent highlights
  • I had my first meeting with the IJ Clinic for Entrepreneurship. We did a really good job of pinning down the main areas we'll be focusing on: The legal relationship between me and Ben, and Licenses.
  • We are looking into trying to sell through grocery stores
  • We have shifted away from the idea of everything in a huge cumbersome cardboard box, and are instead working in a new direction. It will be easier for me to just upload the visual mock-ups of the new packaging idea rather than explain it.
  • Brandcraft, a student graphic design team, is helping us test and flesh out 3 other possible names: Ingredients, Create, and In.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Meeting with DBA

Department of Business Affairs and Licensing

I met with the DBA over in City Hall on Friday to learn more about the licenses I will need to stay on my preferred side of bars. Turns out I will need a retail food establishment license, which will take 2-3 weeks, $600, and an inspection of our kitchens. This will keep me on the good side of the city. My steps for next week are to meet with the Secretary of the State office to find out how to keep the State government happy, find out what federal bodies I need to contact, and meet with the IJ Clinic to check in with them. Then barring any surprises, I will set up the LLC the week after.

Fox and Obel

Moving forward with packaging

I'm a great believer in not reinventing the wheel, so I went to Fox and Obel's to see how they package and present their food. I took a lot of pictures, and brought them to Alliance Paper and Food Services. A sales rep of theirs helped me identify all the packaging types, and I should be receiving samples on Wednesday or Thursday. We are shooting to do our first product test on Friday. The plan is to prepare all the ingredients for a meal, investigate packaging options, package, and send the meal off to friends to try. Below are some pictures of the packaging methods I liked.

Packaging Pictures

Packaging Pictures
We will need labels both for the exterior of our package and for individual ingredients, Below are some pictures for label ideas. I will most likely need to go with whatever we can afford, but it's still nice to keep in mind what looks good.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Restaurant Partner

Great news! The restaurant partner I began discussions with a long time ago returned from China recently, and we have been working on the business for the past week. After he committed to a 9-month pilot, we have been spending the last week going over the general business plan, and talking about menu design. We are shooting to begin testing some meals by sending them to friends to cook at the end of next week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Food Critic and Branding

Food Critic
A great new contact was made today. I had an enlightening conversation with Robin, a food critic. She has offered her initial thoughts, agreed to test our product before we launch, and will introduce us to food writer contacts when the time comes. One great idea contributed by Robin is to pair meals with experiences. For example, we could have a fiery hot meal for an upbeat dinner party, neat and non-messy food for a business dinner, and sensual colors and exotic spices for a romantic meal.

Today was also my first meeting with a group of student designers, Eric, Jimmy, and Paul. We are moving forward with more alternative names and logo's. They had some great idea's and we plan to test out their ideas by using Ask500People, a free polling service. One of their ideas was to include "Sous chef" in the name. Since our company will essentially be acting as a sous chef, preparing ingredients for our customers to cook. I look forward to working with this design team!