October 5×5 Night
Voting Closes:

October 23, 2023 11:59 pm

About this idea
Taco Tuesday? Mandoo Monday!! I had a chance to visit my home country for the first time in 18 years around 2 years ago since I landed here in the United States. There I met my aunt who was doing well with a restaurant of her own selling -- guess what? Mandoo! (korean dumpling) She was selling one of the best dumplings I’ve ever had. The last time that I saw my aunt was when I was 9 years old. The first question she asked me when I met her was, 밥먹었어? Which means “did you eat?” with tears in her eyes. This question is a common greeting due to our history of poverty. Did you know that "GDP per capita in South Korea in early 1960’s was below $100. Lower than Haiti, Ethiopia or Yemen, making South Korea one of the poorest countries in the world"? You see, food is not just food for us. Food is social, communal, and meant to be shared. Food is love. Interesting thing about dumplings - If you eat a couple, it’s an appetizer - If you eat a bit more, its a meal - If you eat it late at night, it's a snack. Dumplings are eaten from early morning to late night. Dumplings are sold from the delicious street vendors of Korea to one of the most expensive and high-end restaurants. Dumplings can be eaten at any time and anywhere. Here I am, two years later. I’ve received my aunt’s recipe to bring it here in the states. We just started at Fulton Street Market past month and have been selling out for most of the weeks. Our sales nearly tripled in our 4th time at the market. With the funding, I will take Mandoo to the next step. The cultural market of Korea just began from K-pop, K-drama, K-beauty, to K-food and we call this 한류 (hallyue) which means wave of Korea. Mandoo is not just food but a way to experience Korea through food. I carefully believe Mandoo can become the face of Korean food. It is time to replace Kimchi and Bulgogi. (https://www.forbeswoman.ge/en/post/southkorea)
Impact
Our community will experience fresh, authentic, and cost-effective meal alternative to fast-food restaurants.
What I'll do with $5,000
$5,000 will impact my business in three ways through the purchase of the equipment (dumpling making machine). 1) Production. We are experiencing problems with the amount of time spent in the kitchen. As a renter of kitchen space, more time in the kitchen means more money lost. We are currently reaching out to friends for help during this time, but we will eventually need to hire people to replace them. We are only able to produce around 600 dumplings in 6 hours with four people. Delayed production also causes us to do a limited amount of pop-ups during the week as we need nearly a full day of production to match the amount of dumplings to sell in events. $5000 will be spent towards the equipment that will free us of production time, kitchen rental, and people to fold them. 2) Quality. One of the biggest problems that we face as we fold dumplings is lack of consistency in our product. Although we measure the filling of the dumpling each time, the size of the filling varies between each dumpling. Furthermore, we face a major problem when we cook on-site as many of our dumplings "pop" open and are thrown away. On our first event, we threw out nearly 150 dumplings out of 500. Today, we threw out nearly 10% of our dumplings. 3) Time. Less production time means more pop-up time. Less production time also means more business time! By being free of time, we would be able to grow our business exponentially as our focus can be on going to events, making connections, and marketing. Today, we are contacted by many event coordinators and individuals to show up on their events. However, due to our lack of pro·fi·cien·cy we are turning away opportunities. $5000 can free us from major time spent in production. As I am writing this, I just bought a plane ticket to go to New York to meet one of the owners who own the machine that I need from Korea. This owner showed interest in selling the machine at a fraction of price. I will be leaving for New York in a couple of hours to negotiate a deal. This $5000 will help my company to obtain the machine. This machine will produce nearly 2500 dumplings an hour.
Links
About wonjae choi

Hello! My name is Wonjae. I was born and raised in South Korea. My family immigrated to Brooklyn, New York when I was 9 years old. I've finished my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and my graduate degree in Masters of Divinity. I've served as a chaplain in hospice and in mental institution. I also served as a youth pastor for several years. This year, I decided to journey on a new path of my dream to start my own company, Mandoo. I am now bringing authentic Korean dumplings to Grand Rapids!

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