Hey Mandy, tell us about yourself!
Hi I'm Mandy! I was born in Hong Kong and moved to New York when I was seven years old. Growing up, I've always loved solving puzzles, reading, and learning about how the world works. I graduated from USC with a degree in civil engineering, and embarked on a career in construction management after college. After a couple of years in the field, I took a break to pursue my MBA, and eventually found my way into entrepreneurship. In my free time, I love to read, eat, and travel. Nowadays though, the most fun I have is the time I get to spend with my one year old daughter.
Can you tell us what you do as the Founder of Bobagreen?
I am the owner of bobagreen, an online eco-friendly bubble tea company that's focused on promoting sustainability in boba culture. As a solo founder, I'm responsible for everything and anything it takes to grow the company and make it successful. This runs the gamut from product ideas, packaging design, marketing, sourcing fulfillment, through to customer service. It's an exhilarating position to have control over all aspects of the business, but it does get a little crazy sometimes because there's never a shortage of things to do!
How did you decide to start your own business? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
When I was growing up, I never thought I could own my own business one day. I was a first-generation college graduate and all my mom wanted for me was to get a shiny corporate job where I can work steadily until retirement. I thought that was my dream too, but after a couple of years at a big company, I realized I wanted more control of my work, impact, and time. I'm a very risk averse person, but I realized that the riskiest thing I could do was not to pursue my dreams and try my hand at starting my own business, because I'll end up spending way too much of my life wondering about the "what if"s. Business school was very helpful in showing me various types of businesses and industries, and helped me get comfortable with the idea of not knowing what I'm doing but trusting myself to be able to figure it out, which gave me the confidence to just start.
What inspired you to start your craft?
Bobagreen marries my love for boba with my passion for protecting our environment from plastic pollution. After the birth of my daughter, it really hit home that the clock is ticking on reversing and mitigating the damages of climate change, because we can't keep kicking the can down the road, leaving the next generation to deal with the damages we're inflicting on the planet.
The boba industry is growing rapidly and is definitely here to stay, but I believe that we can enjoy our bubble tea without the plastic cups, plastic lids, and plastic straws that currently come with each drink. I figured that instead of waiting and hoping for the industry to change, I should do my part to influence the change I want to see.
Any advice on how to get started for those who want to start their own business?
The best way to learn is by doing. At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand to stop reading about other people's successes and how to prepare to start a business, and just do it. Also, don't be too protective of your business idea - great ideas are a dime a dozen, but skillful execution is incredibly difficult to copy. You should be your own secret sauce, not your idea.
3 Character traits that would make someone excel in your field
Grit, resilience, and resourcefulness
Most difficult thing about your owning your own business?
Finding enough time in a day to check off everything on my to-do list! I'm motivated by competition with myself, so I'm always trying to improve and make things better. Luckily, I realized pretty early on that business is a marathon, not a sprint, so I've made peace with having a never-ending to-do list. Sometimes I find myself spending way too much time getting bogged down by minutiae and I just have to remind myself that done is much better than perfect.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don't worry, everything works out the way it's meant to! Failing is part of the journey, not a final outcome.
Best advice you've received/heard?
If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter. But if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.
Any last thoughts, advice, or recommendations for someone who wants to learn your be their own CEO?
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride of the highest highs and the lowest lows. It can get pretty lonely sometimes, especially if you're a solo entrepreneur, but there are so many good communities to be part of and get involved in (local small business chapters, Facebook groups, Indie Hackers, etc.). Make sure you have a good support system and don't underestimate the importance of your mental and physical well being!