Tempeh chips are not the deep-fried, thinly-sliced tempeh as most of us would think. Even though tempeh and tempeh chips have a similar fermentation process, they differ slightly in terms of ingredients. While most of us are not familiar with this Indonesian snack, Ethan has spent 6 months perfecting the recipe and creating TrulyGourmet tempeh chips using quality ingredients which are unique to the local market, creating a business that has a greater opportunity to scale.
Going back to his culinary roots during the pandemic
Growing up helping out at his family restaurant, Ethan worked as a chef in Malaysia and overseas for many years before he started a sourcing business in November 2019. When the pandemic hit, his ongoing projects were put to a halt like many other businesses. He decided to look into his passion for making tempeh back in 2018 when he experimented with tempeh making using various ingredients. However, with a short shelf life of 5 – 7 days, a tempeh business is difficult to scale despite the variety of tempeh he is able to produce with various ingredients. So, he settled on tempeh chips which have a longer shelf life and can be produced in big batches.
Being the only person running the business, Ethan not only handles tempeh chips production in his own home kitchen, but also website designing, video production, product photography, packaging production and order management all by himself which he learned by himself. He had to figure out the best packaging material to make sure the tempeh chips are kept fresh for a longer period of time, besides sourcing for suppliers that suit his requirements in terms of quality ingredients.
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Ensuring a product-market fit for the tempeh chips
Understanding that having a product-market fit is crucial in the sustainability of a business, Ethan took a step further to carry out beta testing for his tempeh chips in December 2020 by sending samples throughout Malaysia. With a rating of 8.0 out of 10.0 from a total of 157 respondents, he rolled out his tempeh chips business and sold over 1.7k packets within the first 2 months by actively sharing his journey in starting this business on Facebook. With this positive result, he looks forward to diversifying his tempeh chips line by cooking up more flavours and increasing production volume for the next step with a small scale semi-automatic production line, as well as eventually obtaining a Halal certification for TrulyGourmet.
Be a sniper, don’t use shotgun. Plan well and execute bravely, it will be bumpy, but there will be a solution if we take effort to manage the challenges.
Ethan Wong is the founder of TrulyGourmet with 13 years of experience in the commercial kitchen. He also spends some of his weekends writing recipes on his blog at 3thanwong.com. You can get in touch with him through email or WhatsApp.
This article is part of the 5 real stories of starting a business in the midst of the pandemic series written to tell the stories of entrepreneurs who have braved through these difficult times and successfully started a business. Check out other stories here: