The Vendor is a PocketApp series that features creators and professionals who sell on PocketApp. They’ll share why they started their business, how they’ve evolved and what they’ve learnt along the way.
Chef Kim is an online kitchen that currently operates from the founder’s kitchen in Lagos mainland. The kitchen specialises in selling local and intercontinental dishes in large quantities.
For The Vendor, Ibeanu Ada spoke to us about starting Chef Kim while she was a broke university student, the ups and downs of running the business and her ambition for the company.
How did you come up with the name, Chef Kim?
Kimberly is one of my names; people would often tease me by calling me Kim K in secondary school, and it stuck. When I had to choose a name for my business, I didn’t want to choose a random name, and the Kim K nickname was already second nature to me. So I added Chef to Kim, and that was it.
When did you discover your love for cooking?
In 2017, my second year at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. It became part of my weekly schedule to host my friends at my place after lectures and cook for them. They always complimented my food and encouraged me to start something.
I was also struggling financially at the time, so I started charging students and some members of staff to cook for them. I started small in my hostel. I struggled with getting orders initially, but it eventually picked up. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to cater for myself.
What made you decide to continue the business after school?
The employment market is not favourable to young people. I didn’t have plans to run a business, but after getting a few salary offers I didn’t like, I thought I could do better if I put in time and effort into the business.
So I decided to give it a shot. It didn’t work out immediately because I faced a lot of challenges. I struggled with raising capital and gaining a customer base, but I had to keep giving it my all.
Did you go to culinary school at any point?
I haven’t been to culinary school, but I plan to go. People believe I’ve been to culinary school because my food is excellent, but I still think I need to brush up my skills. There are still so many recipes to learn, so many meals I don’t know how to make yet.
I learnt the things I know now by reading recipes, watching YouTube and trying things out. I make a lot of mistakes, but I don’t stop trying until it’s perfect. I plan to get the culinary certificate, but whether or not I get it, I am confident in my skills as a chef.
What is driving you?
I want people to be able to buy good food at very affordable prices. That ambition drives me. I know that this is what I’m good at, and I will be consistent with it. Some people will say you can’t get rich from doing a food business, but I think you can.
You just have to be consistent, know what you’re doing, develop your skills properly and pick yourself up from failures.
How has your experience of PocketApp been?
I love PocketApp. When I saw they rebranded from AbegApp, I wanted to know what was going on because I was an AbegApp user. I was so impressed with the features, and I decided to try it out. I wasn’t even expecting to make sales, but the sales have been so impressive. I can say that PocketApp is supporting my business, and I love to see it.
Between 2017 and now, how has it been?
It has been really good. I have seen my customer base grow, especially from referrals, and I’ve seen my customers be so excited by their orders that they share it on social media. I’ve also had my own fair share of failures, like a dispatch rider spilling my food or eating part of it. The second has been raising enough capital to expand and brand my business properly because I’m always reinvesting my profits back into the business to keep it running.
How do you manage the mix of failures and successes?
I don’t believe you can be successful without failing a couple times, so I don’t really see my failures as a big deal. I just pick up the pieces, learn from it and keep it moving; I’m sure that, one day, my successes will be more than my failures.