Hello SnackFever Fam! Hope you guys are having a great start to the week :).
This is Jo Jang, the CEO of SnackFever. I’d like to start by telling you how much we appreciate your support and love so far and that we recognize we wouldn’t be where we are without you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Can you believe it? We are already celebrating our 1st year anniversary! What a journey it’s been. Time flies…It feels like yesterday David, my co-founder, and I were going to all the Korean grocers here in Koreatown, Los Angeles, checking prices and buying all the snacks, asking for a discount convincing them they were for our church kids (lol), and packing them day and night in ugly brown boxes on our ping pong table. We have come a long way!
Josh on the left, our first summer intern, packing our first boxes.
How it all started
Before SnackFever, David, as an intern, and I were working for a venture capital firm called Strong Ventures (founded by Korean friends I grew up with in the Canary Islands of Spain) investing in small tech startups throughout Korea and the US (we still use the same office). We started SnackFever as a challenge to see if we could start a startup with just $500 by bootstrapping as much as possible. I came up with this idea on a road trip to Silicon Valley with John Nahm, the managing director of Strong Ventures. We came up with this name after DramaFever, whose founders are our friends also from the Canary Islands. We wanted to target the same audience and we figured it would be an easy name to remember. Just like DramaFever, we wanted to offer something addictive (!), so we came up with the idea of snacks and food since we have easy access here in Koreatown. After all, unlike K-dramas, snacks and food cannot be downloaded illegally so we thought it would be a good idea ^_^.
Several years ago, John and I started a Facebook group called “Coreanos que hablan español” (translated as “Koreans who speak Spanish”), a group for Koreans like us from Spanish-speaking countries. In the beginning, we were just a few hundred members and there were lots of interaction, but as it happens with many groups, it quickly died down :(. Then, a few years later, out of nowhere, we noticed many Latin American girls started joining by the hundreds every day. We are now at 90,000 members! We were absolutely befuddled. We had no idea so many people in Latin America and the rest of the world were so into K-pop, K-dramas and Korean culture in general. We knew then that most of the girls were actually looking for Korean guys who spoke Spanish (lol) but anyway I began posting interesting stuff about Korean culture every day and we also got to learn a lot about these fans and how passionate and loyal they are.
Being the admin of this crazy engaging group, my inbox flooded with messages. People would ask me about Korea all the time. One of the most repeated questions was: “Can you teach me Korean?” which was a bit odd for me at the time. I had never understood why anyone would want to learn Korean, a language isolate with a weird grammar and syntax mainly spoken in Korea. So, one day I started responding with “Ok, I’ll teach you, but pay me $50.” 200 people signed up. I could not believe it! So I created another Facebook group called “Quiero Estudiar Coreano” to teach Korean in Spanish. I taught online for a year over a webinar for 1 hour every Sunday afternoon. I became good friends with my students from all over Latin America, Puerto Rico, US and Spain. One day, I mentioned to them the idea of SnackFever and they absolutely loved it.
So we built our first crappy-looking website in about a week and just launched. No pre-launch party or anything fancy (we didn’t have $$!). Our first customers were my students from Puerto Rico and the US who helped us out tremendously spreading the word. Muchísimas gracias!! From there, we grew and improved every month, making lots of mistakes along the way but learning a great deal.
The Evolution of our Boxes
We bought our first boxes from Uline, bought stickers and some snacks from the Korean grocer. David’s high school friend designed our first logo. Yeah, we know we sucked big time in the beginning.
Howard joins SnackFever in mid-August 2015
And Hot-ward instantly becomes the most popular member. Hashtag #hotward. We were introduced to him by my friend Charlie from Koreadaily. Howard had recently graduated from UC Berkeley and had come down to LA to look for a job. The first day, I made him tie ribbons on the chopsticks we included in one of the boxes LOL.
Steve joins the team in October
Steve stays with us for a few months before he heads back to Korea to start his own startup. We miss you, Steve! Good luck with your startup.
James, Min and Lea join
James (pictured center), SnackFever’s Chief Content Officer, worked for KoreAM, before joining our team. Min is with us part-time, still at school, majoring in computer science! Lea was our adorable maknae and only intern, a senior at UCLA majoring in psychology. She left us this summer to join an ad agency. Good luck, Lea! We miss you too.
SnackFever Fam came visit us
Our most loyal fans (we call them family) visited our office. Love you guys! Crickett on the left, our keun noona and SnackFever evangelist aka @noonasquad :).
We hired a bunch of talented interns for the summer. We said, “we don’t guarantee (much) money but we do guarantee fun!” and that’s how we convinced them to join us :). I hope the interns are having fun at least!
This month, we’ve been extremely busy working on many exciting projects and collaborations. We’re working hard improving our boxes, adding new snacks and swag. We’re also having a booth at KCON LA so if you’re coming please stop by and say hi. We’re giving away lots of stuff. Oh and by the way, our friends at Music Mind are giving away free KCON tickets!
The future of SnackFever
As a Korean kid growing up in the Canary Islands and England, my motherland was very foreign and mostly unknown to many of my friends and neighbors. So it fills me with so much pride and joy these days when I see so many non-Koreans who are big fans of Korea. Through SnackFever, we want to bring a slice of Korean culture to our members, not just snacks. And we’re working hard every day to deliver the best service we can.
I love creating communities and making friends from all over the world. I absolutely love this community and we see you guys as a big family. To us, our customers (we prefer calling you members or family), are the most important thing for our business. We love to listen and interact with you. We’ve made so many mistakes, yet you’ve been so forgiving. We can’t thank you enough. It’s really made our jobs much more fun and easier.
At the end of the day, we’re just a group of dorky oppas (and now some unnies) having fun at work. We understand we’re not perfect yet and that we still need lots of improvement. We don’t want you to see us like a company or a big faceless corporation. In this second year, we want to be even more successful but we need your help spreading the word. We are excited for the future and the opportunity to work and interact with our SnackFever Family. So, once again, thank you so much and please feel free to let us know if you have any feedback.
Ok, now back to packing your Special Anniversary July Boxes.
Have a wonderful day!
At your service,
Jo Jang, CEO SnackFever
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