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I SLEPT with my co-founder | Heinin Zhang, yhangry

Strategy & Tragedy: CEO Stories with Steph Melodia is the best business podcast for curious entrepreneurs. Hosted by Top 20 Female Founder, Stephanie Melodia, Strategy & Tragedy features candid interviews with entrepreneurs who have scaled - and failed - their businesses - sharing their lessons in entrepreneurship along the way. From Nick Telson-Sillett who achieved financial freedom after selling DesignMyNight (on The Wildest Exit Day in History™) to Emmie Faust, the founder of Female Founders Rise, who opened up about her breakdown on the road to discovering her mission in supporting female founders.

This is one of the best podcasts to listen to if you're looking for educational and inspirational content on Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon, YouTube or watch the clips on Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts.


In this episode, Stephanie Melodia interviews Heinin Zhang, one of the co-founders of yhangry which is kind of like 'uber for chefs' where you can book a private share for any occasion from £30pp. They've been through some serious highs and lows, founded in 2019 so pre-pandemic as you can imagine they went through some serious turbulent times but they also went through some great stuff as well they went on Y Combinator, they've been on BBC's Dragon's Den - spoiler alert: they walked away from the cash that was offered to them on the TV show (!) - and Heinin has just been so open with sharing the strategies and tragedies that have helped them grow their amazing startup business so let's get stuck in...

Watch the full episode on YouTube, subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, or keep reading for the full interview below:

SM: So you're the co-founder of yhangry which is like the Uber for booking private chefs, co-founded this back in 2019 pre-pandemic you came from what I understand is quite a cushty corporate job beforehand so pretty brave review to take that leap and go into entrepreneurship right?

HZ: I think the reason why we came up with the idea me and my co-founder we were both working together on the trading floor we were both lazy so essentially we loved having our friends over and throwing dinner parties but the problem was always food how are you going to feed people and having come from developing countries so she's from India I grew up in China it's common to have help at home because labor is more affordable and you can have a cook a driver and these things and we just thought it was 2019 there are amazing affordable luxury services like uber you can book a massage you can book so many on-demand services why wasn't it easy to find a chef because we ended up having to either cooked in a parties which made them not happen or order Deliveroo which was a different experience and we wanted fresh home cooked food something a bit more than just take away

SM: So was this a case of you and your co-founder wanted it as more of a personal use case you knew that this was lacking you'd seen it from different cultures was that kind of enough for you to to make that leap to launch into a startup pre-pandemic or did you do any more kind of market research or anything beforehand so really kind of validate the business idea?

HZ: A bit of both. We initially started to solve our own problems so we found our first chef and we started using that first chef for actually not just social gatherings but more like meal prep as well so we would get the chef we would invite friends over everyone would eat and then there would be some leftovers for me to have over the next couple of days nice so that was perfect and then the friends that had experienced it were loving it and they said hey can I use your chef and we then realised oh wow we're not the only people with the problem and we started actually creating some sort of testing environment where we had this one chef and we started pimping out the chef to our colleagues on the training for where we knew there are some people who recently had kids they had a newborn baby or do you want to fill your fridge or freezer we can have a chef over who will cook for you it's going to cost this much and the feedback was really good so we kind of solved our own problem first and then we realised wow there is some demand for it why don't we do a little bit of testing and we did that luckily we were in a very good environment for it because there were lots of people who are earning a decent amount who are willing to throw money at solving their problems

SM: Amazing, and so fast forward about four years I still don't think that booking a private chef for a dinner party is as commonplace as I would guess that it is in India China's you'd mentioned and I think this is part and parcel of really innovative startups where there is not only all the usual hurdles I've just building a business but actually breaking through more of those cultural barriers or things that aren't kind of Commonplace so I guess one is correct me if I'm wrong on that and secondly you mentioned you were lucky to have those colleagues with the disposable income so is it something that's maybe more just for that particular need:

HZ: Sure, I guess you think that there is the opportunity for booking private chefs to become more mainstream in the UK at least so the biggest condition for booking a private chef is having space so what we realized is yes a lot of what you're saying is right there is a bit of a stigma in the UK where anecdotally some of our first customers said actually requested the chef to leave before their friends arrived because they didn't want to seem to bougie oh I don't know I don't want my friends to see that I have a chef I want to make it seem like I just did everything because that's just so fancy and it was someone who was living somewhere in East London I remember looking at the postcode I think it was around Victoria Park like a nice area with now like decently priced real estate and everything and I just thought okay the person is affluent but feels a little bit shy in terms of showing that they can book a private chef and a lot of it relates to the stereotype that private chefs are unattainably expensive where only the rich and famous and the celebrities can actually afford a private chef which is very like people think that's the case however on the other hand chefs are working at really low wages and restaurants Where some chefs are really earning just above minimum spent yeah we kind of realised that there seems to be this dichotomy we can easily find chefs that are affordable to maybe not everyone on a regular basis however or when we look at our customers when we look at repeat customers yes our ideal customer profile probably is the slightly more affluent category especially people with young kids where having to sort out childcare is difficult so being able to invite your friends over instead of getting a babysitter then taking an Uber if you want to drink to a restaurant somewhere and then Uber back and so on from across perspective it all checks out but when we look at other customers we have 22-year-olds booking us in their student dorm that has a dining area for their birthday party we've got chefs who have anecdotally told us that the less affluent customers actually tip more and it's when they go to really normal households that they enjoy the booking the most because people are so amazed by the service and they are so grateful and just so interested in what the chef is doing whereas sometimes when they go to wealthier households they barely interact with the treats him a bit like a servant right so although we don't have as many high net worth customers as maybe like just middle class upper middle class affluent who do not have a full-time private chef for sure we have a broad Range and if it's for birthday party once a year anyone can spend £30 per person within reason to invite their friends or family

SM: Yeah it's interesting as you mentioned that dichotomy between the perception definitely here in the UK I totally get that because it was definitely a thought that cross my mind around like oh I don't know if I'd want other people to know as you say like a little bit bougie or am I think or how much is she actually earning kind of thing versus actually. You've just made me think as well about even the interior design industry I know that in America that's also very common place to book an interior designer at least a console on your intervene if you're renting even if you're renting apartment or a flat whereas I just go to IKEA buy it right

HZ: Yeah I think it's it's interesting these services are more and more popular and they're also more and more affordable yeah exactly so do you think that that's still a barrier of to why hangry's growth and whether it's London or the UK that perception or are you finding that you're changing changing that perception with your customers here I think we are creating we've created something that's existed for a long time like we're not inventing something new private chefs have been around for a long time it's just that the connotation was different and from the data that we have shared by our customers we know that 70% of our customers had never booked a private chef before and the reason why they are now looking to book a private chef are I guess manifold there are some macro changes we know that during the pandemic more and more people had actually everyone had to spend time at home everyone was locked down at home and that has resulted in more people actually moving out from let's say zone one in London to like maybe zone three or to be able to have a garden to be able to have in office if they were working remotely from home and there are companies didn't go back to having an office they need more space especially if both partners work from home and so on and as I mentioned earlier space is a big condition for hosting for inviting friends over if you live in a small apartment in London and you have a dining table that can seat four people you don't need to chef I think you can happily cook for three other people and most of our bookings are for let's say an average 10 or 11 people I think most recently it was 11 given the summer events were bit bigger but I think it really you need a certain number in order to justify booking a private jep as well because the work becomes overwhelming and so the space is a big factor but also I think along with the cultural shift of using services like uber previously before uber existed I think not everyone who uses uber would have used the black cab so a few different factors that contribute to more and more people being open to the idea of booking a private chef

SM: Interesting. And I'm aware that you've got big plans to go out to other markets but we're all come on to that in terms of you know what's next for where yhangry but for now continuing on the chronological timeline of yhangry is amazing journey so this was pre-pandemic 2019...

HZ: 2020 it was a massive roller coaster we had just quit our jobs end of 2019 and launched our very first basic that website in December 2019 and then lockdown happened in February

so it was literally only a few months yeah literally we had a couple of bookings for Christmas in 2019 then Jan Feb there was stuff happening and all of a sudden February cancellation started coming through we kind of had heard that there was something happening in China and all of a sudden lockdown was announced and you weren't allowed to see people anymore and during that time CD and I were seeing each other every day working together either from her flat or my flat and I ended up moving in with her and her now husband so favorite we know that definitely more of a partner to her than her husband right like business partner living together we also even shared so I they had a spare bedroom which is helpful helpful however because literally when I moved in her husband got covid and then he ended up quarantining in the master bedroom and we actually shared a bedroom oh my

so yeah nothing like sharing a bedroom and sleeping together to bring to bring co-founders yeah I think together more that and then we didn't know how long to lockdown would be yeah we ended up living together for a bit more than three months wow it was a really intense time where we just thought we didn't know whether our business would exist but we're going to do now so during that time we pivoted to virtual cooking classes we're doing we started the business because we didn't want to cook but we ended up cooking for I think 44 days straight on Instagram lives like the two of us like just cooking and I think we had very few viewers but we just stuck it out we're like we have to do this every day maybe we can grow our followers I think we did a little bit but it was so much fun we set the kitchen on fire and did some really stupid stuff during that time and yeah I think it's just really really great memories of that time which definitely helped us become even closer as friends as well as business partners because previously we were friends at work and we will work colleagues but then living together as a whole like takes it to a whole other level yeah absolutely I I think you're in a very tiny minority of co-founders who have only lived together but shared a bedroom together that's another Level so what's upset exactly

it so that was that was 2020 and you mentioned before you know with the different kind of variants there was something with when when omicron hit to be honest with you I'd pushed it out of my brain I completely forgot the names of all I just don't even want to remember that time at some point I actually stopped reading the news because everything was so negative just sick of it so 2020 massive roller coaster lockdown lockdown eased we had a lot of bookings Oliver sudden and then the second lockdown got announced and then Christmas got canceled that year and anyway it and then 2021 was similar where it was a lot of stop and go whereas a business we got some momentum we raised money and then we aired on Dragons Den we had lots of traffic and then there was another like there were new household restrictions afterwards so those two years I look at and they this they seem really blurry in my mind and in the end of 2021 I think that was Q4 is when literally like the mic drop with omicron because that was the strain that hit us the worst all the other strains were kind of bad but this one was really bad pretty much all of the bookings like just got cancelled because everyone started getting overcome because the virus was evolving so quickly and people were getting infected more quickly but it was less severe but you were still not seeing people so that one was really bad and that was around the same time as we got accepted into why combinator wow so we actually got accepted into my combinator when we were on a high in like October November going into the Christmas season with lots of Christmas bookings getting plays and YC started in January so between literally mid-December and January when Oman Khan really hit and then all of a sudden we were part of this program where there was accountability amazing sort of founders amazing businesses and every two weeks you were pushed to set goals for the next two weeks and Report progress and there was a traffic light system like green if your teeth your gold yellow if you kind of ish did although green if you exceeded yellow if you kind of achieved them and read if you did in and it was so demoralizing because at that time we felt like we didn't have any levers to pull because it wasn't natural for people to organize stuff if they weren't sure whether they're going to be sick and wouldn't be able to do it so they were just held off birthday plans I mean held up lots of different celebrations and we just missed all of our goals whereas and it was horrible like going into that meeting every two weeks thinking oh what did we do okay no like we did a bit of this we did that but not really what we wanted to achieve and around the time we managed to kind of look at the business in a different light and realize that we had previously received a lot of feedback that we didn't go deeply into so we spent time doing that which ended up in US changing the model because we realized that there was there were certain issues with our previous model that led to the experience being not as good as it could be for the customers as well as the chefs and we talk about deeper and we realized wow there are certain changes we can make let's do that and we did that throughout kind of end of Jan fab into March and with also covid easing and our new model from then on it just became so much better and we kind of yeah had our really deep trough and that's when it started going how do you say that going coming back stronger.

Y Combinator sign

SM: What comes to mind is that classic diagram of the line chart you know the reality of the ups and downs of being founder which we all know but this particular I guess even three month period for you of the high of getting accepted to Y Combinator the low of omicron hitting and everything completely drying up then being on the program which sounds so exhilarating and helpful but then the the demoralizing feeling of going into those meetings and it must have been even more frustrating has a founder where you feel like you are in charge it's your business your master of your own destiny and yet despite everything that you're doing it's not changing the results because moving the Needles so frustrating - but congratulations for coming out stronger and what a fantastic lesson in there as well to actually say okay the sucks this isn't working out but what can we take from this and you use that time to dive into the feedback and pivot so was that feedback from the mentors on Y Combinator that helped you?

HZ: Definitely. They asked amazing questions; one of the biggest changes we did was we stopped doing the grocery fulfilment back in the day our model was a managed marketplace model which means that the customer will choose what they want to eat and then we assigned the chef we ordered the groceries the groceries arrive then the chef comes and cooks everything now our model is different the customer will choose the chef and the chef will create a special menu for that person it's more bespoke it's the menus are more unique although you can request the menu that is celebrity has had if you wanted to but it's not I'm standard of the shelf these are the hangry menus and any chef can cook them so this is one way in which the model has changed because customers ask to be able to select and choose their chef rather than getting assigned a chef and they know nothing about the stranger who is coming to their home

SM: What's the most popular celebrity menu?

HZ: Oh so a lot of Made in Chelsea the influencers and a lot of the cast they have used us and people were asked us oh I saw you guys on Zara's or Louise's pinkies like story what did they have for this event like and I book the same one so they're really really popular with actually so it's the Made in Chelsea lot as opposed to like A-List celebrities that I'm not ordering like Jessica Biel's so just sadly we haven't cooked for yet but it's we've worked luckily with amazing celebrities in that sense right from let's say reality TV show who live in London and who have a lot of followers and Influence and every time we do we get so much out of it which is amazing amazing and just again I've curiosity while we're on this did the Maiden Chelsea lot did they find out about you organically or did you approach them to so a bit of both so I'm just thinking and so Ollie lock is one of our angel investors okay and he found out about us organically oh wow he somehow found out about us I need to look into like the first message right or maybe we reached out to him I don't remember it was so long ago and then at some point he reached out saying how much he loves the idea and then when we were raising we told him and then yeah and now obviously he's opened a lot of doors yeah obviously like a lot of people know that he's involved so yeah one thing leads to another I guess that goes to show again the value of the right investor if they cannot work introductions it's not just the money that they bring to the table sets fantastic so this digress we were on kind of the YC I kind of took us off path a little bit a model changed a lot of the model. So now customers choose which chef they like the most based on they can read reviews they can see photos of their food they can see their menus prices location all of these factors and then the chef will buy and bring the groceries so we don't have to deal with those logistics anymore which were complete nightmare. It was like trying to build HelloFresh within yhangry and as you mentioned the grocery fulfilment side of things -

SM: In 2020 every every Tom Dick and Harry is delivering groceries to your front door we suddenly had Gorillas Getir I can't remember the names of all of them it's just like this is just not I'm not a professional investor but I can already see this is already getting crowded here so that makes a lot of sense so well done so that was you know came out stronger from from YC so that was amazing and you mentioned within their very briefly that I want to make sure that we come on to Dragon's Den: so was this during what time period?

HZ: This was all mixed in there with everything so we pitched in Manchester in the BBC studios in November 2020 - the day the second lockdown was announced fifth of November I think wow and then our episode was aired only like ages later like more than half a year I think yes it was aired in May 2021 right so there was a long gap in between but and during that gap we didn't actually know whether we would get aired or not because you kind of go in good faith hoping obviously like a that you get an offer be that you might get a deal and see that you will get aired whenever the next season will Air and because of covid and everything they just weren't sure but they were just filming all the content and yeah so so what was that like then experience so this was around the so you were doing I don't even know how co-founders like you make the time to not only run and build the business but also just like the applications to all these things as well right I applying to why combinator applying to Dragon's Den it's just never end isn't it but congrats you made it on to both of these days you made it onto YC you made it on instead so what was that process like it was such an amazing experience right it was so professional like the whole like process was really impressive and we were being asked to produce certain things for the first time and we're like oh my god wow like they're so professional checking everything is like oh where do we get this from where do we get this right that was a really really good experience and then pitching itself it was NERF wrecking really but fun at the same time because it wasn't alone I think being able to walk in there together or do the trip together actually it was three of us so it was City me and our very first employee who was one of our early chefs and we the three of us took the train up together we stayed in an airbnb and the chef was preparing stuff overnight whereas we were like looking at the numbers studying remembering things because we know we'll get grilled and those and then yeah the next and then the airbnb the oven didn't work which was needed and a few other issues but anyway like it all worked out in the end so we walked into the Den together with the chef serving like a beautiful sweet horse canape meal and us pitching so it sounds like going in as a team you're supposed to like having to step in alone I was just gonna say it sounds like the most perfect team building experience and itself at an away day to Manchester and and on top issue think about to get a teamwork but you know it's very Into The Fire and also sounds like best training ground for pitching to VC I mean obviously you're pitching to Angels the dragons on the show but also you say that prepping all the numbers and the figures and it's so nerve-racking you're on TV got the cameras and everything as well so I imagine that then pitching to VCS on a standard cool must have felt like a walk in the park you completely nailed it right you're like having pitch in person with no materials whatsoever for two hours wow actually the pitch was like a minute but we were being asked questions for another like almost two hours afterwards from the dragons yes yes because they are making real investments and they don't know anything about the company before founders what gets edited on TV is such a tip of the iceberg yeah it's honest I think our episode was 12 or 13 minutes long yeah but we were in there for I think it was more than two hours wow that's so interesting I mean I'd always imagined obviously the real thing is much longer but how can they make an investment yeah based on like these whatever questions that get aired so that was really such a tough experience that actually pitching to anyone else doesn't quite compare especially if it's a zoom call you're not standing there they're sitting it's a very different Power dynamic as well you have nothing with their scribbling their nodes or on a zoom call like you can have everything in front of you if you wanted to and just look anything up or run through a pitch tag during the meeting exactly it's very different of course and so for anyone who hasn't seen the episode of you on Dragon's Den so did you get offered investment what happened then spoiler alert spoiler allowing it's the episode came out two years ago so maybe it's not a spoiler anymore but yeah we got offers and we struck a deal and who did you get the office from so tesian Peter tej and Peter okay so they were the two dragons that we really wanted amazing and we ended up yeah presenting our business in a certain way that actually they found great so that was awesome how much did they offer you so a hundred thousand each no wanted to raise 100,000 together so they ended up they initially both offered us the money and then we made them kind of combine right and join Force amazing but you decided to not actually accept the cash from these two TV Dragons Den investor stars was that about so we realized after dragon Stan that maybe we overestimated the amount of value that they could add to the business if we were a product let's say that should be shelved in a supermarket and I mean it would be a no-brainer like immediately like we would get so many sales but without business it's a little bit different and we then just thought back and forth maybe that's not the right way for us and maybe we should be looking at other investment channels

SM: Wow, so where did you go from there then - did you get other invest other Angels VCS what happened next?

HZ: I think it's not as uncommon that you go into the Den and you're like really nervous your as an entrepreneur you've just been grilled and you're like okay like I'll just do it or I mean deals fall through for many different reasons sometimes as well like in the due diligence process the investors will look at things and realize them okay like I actually thought it would be different and stuff doesn't end up happening yeah so but it is quite rare for the founders to be the ones turning down the angels afterwards maybe maybe okay but that's what you did so yeah went on to look for yeah funding from somewhere else yeah so we then ended up getting funding from VC Angels and as well as friends who we previously worked with because when we left a lot of our finance friends had said that hey we would love to support you and yeah we ended up raising 1.1 million wow with the biggest ticket coming from one of our customers actually wow yeah so we had an early customer who I think was beginning of 2020 literally before the lockdown had a chef cook for physically in their home and then during the lockdown organized four or five different virtual cooking classes without chefs and their friends to do something social and they emailed us and I think after the first event even said wow I thought this was such a great experience you made it so easy to find a chef let me know if you ever need investment and a year later when we raised in I think early 2021 we started the process we got in touched and they were interested amazing I guess it makes a lot of sense if someone has had that Direct experience with the product they've used it they loved it they really believe in it so that's fantastic what a great result and so this is all kind of you know from the early you know recovered getting started going through covid and why combinator Dragon's Den all these cool things so let's bring it up to speed so how's how's my hungry doing at the moment and you've got big plans coming up next so we look to the future but in the Here and Now what's current how how's it currently doing I think we have such an amazing team right now and a lot of stuff is happening and it just feels like every day like you're having your head down you're working because we've got goals we want to hit and it feels like the is there saying that the engine is rolling it's really popular the clogs the cogs are turning the cogs are turning the cogs are turning yeah which feels really great because unlike when it was quite tough for us during ycee when we felt a little bit helpless without knowing how we could change things now it feels like we know what we can do and we know what we must do and we know how to do it so we just need to work hard in order to get things done I love and that just feels so empowering which is I think which makes everyone really happy because it's helplessness that makes that is demoralizing and you don't think you're moving the needle like you're doing a lot of stuff because we're always working hard but we're not seeing anything forward whereas now it feels like right we're doing things and caterers parables like there's a result for it

SM: Yeah I love that that's fantastic it's when you when you're directionless when you still haven't I guess nailed at market fit and it's like is this paying off is and there's so energy consuming definitely and build a business that I love I love what you've just described there with like we know where we're going we know what we need to do now all that we need to do is put in the hard work to actually make it happen so that's fantastic and I'm aware that so you know you secured some some funding so congratulations on that obviously it's been a tough past year 18 months for the Startup ecosystem with everything happening now I'm aware that you've kind of you've you really managed to kind of manage the finances in a really kind of lean way you've got quite a runway ahead of you so congratulations on that you mentioned you kind of got two three years ahead of you what I'm very curious about is how do you find the right balance between maintaining the leaners the efficiency to make sure that you've got the two to three year runway coming up versus being a bit more I guess ballsy or a bit more of a risk and investing a bit more in a campaign or doing something that might also kind of boost it like I guess that that risk appetite how do you how do you find the right balance between between those two ends of the spectrum?

HZ: Yeah so I think so there are two different things that you can spend money on in a startup one is marketing and the other one is the team maybe you can spend money on other things as well but those are the two main things that I think we spent money on and for the team actually we found a really great formula or we found it I think one of our YC Partners in one of our office hours just mentioned like okay great you're at this kind of level now so in order to continue being prudent but also grows like every 30K of revenue or like GMB you can add another head count that basically pays ward so we have we obviously

look at our growth and whenever we have grown a certain amount we realize oh wow we just earned ourselves another head count so let's start looking for another role because as a team there's always more to do we never have enough hands on Deck but when the revenue gets to a certain level we realize okay now we've gotten to the stage where without increasing our burn rate we can actually add another person fantastic so for what like that like the team side of things it's quite simple and on the let marketing side of things what we started investing in is SEO which is hopefully longer lived who knows what's going to happen with ChatGPT and Bard and whether that's going to change obviously paid search but previously we were using channels like Facebook ads and Google ads and the moment you switch them off and stop paying you get nothing yeah and I think one of the mistakes we made is that we invest in SEO early enough and it Hite side if I were to start another business I now know to maybe do that little bit earlier on because it takes a while for it to pay off but when it does it's long-lived and hopefully like forever you need to maintain some things but anyway so we decided to do that and we decided to also improve our website ux and UI to increase conversion rates so that's another way to that's that's a bit more organic than just pumping ad spend yeah so when it comes to growth initiatives or marketing initiatives we try to actually look at the ones that are have a longer shelf life

Podcast episode artwork with Steph Melodia and Heinin Zhang of yhangry

SM: I'm so glad that you mentioned that genuinely because I just think that there does need to be more of an awareness and a deep appreciation for those longer tail marketing activities it's it is easy you know I do understand with founders it's your own capital especially if you don't come from a marketing background it you know you want that reassurance and Google Facebook Meta they make it as easy as possible for you to spend their money with them like let's not forget the biggest tech companies for a reason 80% of their annual revenue comes from the advertising so you're continuing to line the pockets of Mark Zuckerberg and you know alphabet but you've completely hit the nail on the head as well with like once you switch it off it's it's an on and off of the tap and it's your love that you say you know or if you were to start again you'd you'd prioritize those earlier those longer tail activities to get started sooner but I think more and more founders need to realize that because they just I think there's that nervousness they don't they want those instantaneous results difficult it is difficult like results immediately and you only have let's say limited runway if you had I don't know a few months to prove something you rather just want to have a quick and be quick buck you get some money in immediately and also get some feedback in I think we're starting up your own business is is like a very expensive MBA I think everything that all the lessons you can learn from actually doing it for real and rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in. Looking ahead then so I meant of kind of hinted as a few times so what are your exciting plans for 2024 and beyond now:

HZ: So our next goal will be to expand globally with the US to start and in order to get there we need to do a bunch of things so yeah so we're right now in execution mode and working towards that exciting have you got a few locations that your prioritizing we've got a few that we're thinking of but we haven't actually created any set list yet because I think we know vaguely what we're doing but at the same time I think as an early stage startup it doesn't make sense to create any plans that exceed more than six months or even three months because so much changes and I was speaking to someone recently who set that at their startup and it's a bigger startup they have 12 months 12 month plans but they revise them every six months so the first six months is high conviction the second six months is low conviction and most likely actually 90% of the time will change when they revise the 12 month plan in six months again for sure and it feels like for us maybe that's like three months into yes and so it's creating a list now with having done very little research to be honest because we're spending our time executing and actually growing the business now and fixing certain things that we need to do it's something that will do course when you get to it yeah of course that makes sense so you hiring people on the ground locally in these places or still all kind of still a bit great at the moment yeah I think we are a remote first but hybrid team so everyone's around or most people are around London and we work from home but on average we probably meet up once a month either for social or ad hoc if we need to do some in-person brainstorming it's not the same as doing it on zoom as good as like some of the tools are it's different to have people's brains active and people going back and forth in one physical space so we do that and we think it's a good setup so when it comes to expanding we know that yes we can grow a team remotely so maybe we don't need to hire someone on the ground however we also do see the value of when people get together and that it really helps in creating like a team atmosphere and somewhat of a culture rather than just knowing people on Slack and on calls yeah but I guess of course you got a balance it with the practicalities of the finance and the right person who that higher would be and yeah role yeah so I think we'll worry about that later

SM: My last question for you Heinin thank you so much it's been really interesting here and we're about the story and the ups and downs along the way this this is called the Strategy and Tragedy podcast partly because I believe that the best lessons can often come from our biggest mistakes or "tragedies" - what is a tragedy you may want to have really covered this because we've gone through the highs and the lows but what's a tragedy that's happened with yhangry that's really taught you the biggest lesson?

HZ: I think one of the biggest mistakes that we made is that we priced ourselves the product too low when we launched we were starting out. I think not super confident to stick a high price tag on it we're like oh that seems expensive like maybe we just go for the lower option and we we knew at the time that uber actually started with uber black before rolling out uberx but we approached the other way we started our first product focusing on our equivalent of uberx and sort of the more premium market and we actually now have slowly changed because we've learned more about our customers we initially thought oh like everyone will book why angry all the time but then we realize you need space and most likely you need to have a little bit more disposable income to be a regular customer which we obviously want to acquire more of and the end we realized now that in hindsight if we knew it earlier it would it's always just easier to lower your prices than to increase them

SM: That is a fantastic lesson that makes a lot of sense and hopefully a lot of founders listening to this will will take that on board with them as well Heinin it's been an absolute pleasure congratulations on making it through the tough times and coming out stronger than ever before with yhangry I wish you all the best of luck thank you so much again for coming on the podcast!

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Strategy & Tragedy: CEO Stories with Steph Melodia is the best podcast for curious entrepreneurs and ambitious founders. Learn from those a few steps ahead of you in these candid interviews of the highs and lows of scaling and failing business. Watch the full episode here, subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music. Thank you for listening and for supporting the show!


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