Just like many folks before me, I came to the US from a country called Burma because clearly, I was too young and could not overthrow the authoritarian junta there. Hence, the easier option is to search for a new home and freedom of course. Being an immigrant and exploring the nits and gritty of entrepreneurship in the US has been quite a journey so far, and hence I want to build a community to help people like myself, connect and network with other like-minded folks online and offline to build things that matter instead of running circles on the corporate wheel like little hamsters.
I have done my fair share of running on the wheel at Goldman Sachs, Federal Reserve, and Exelon previously as a tech auditor and learned a thing or two about consumer technology thanks to Marcus and Apple Card. The pay was an average tech salary, maybe above average since I deal with cyber security mostly, but things get really boring to a point that I started feeling everyone around me is pretending to make big deals out of ordinary and mundane activities just to keep their sanity. So, I reached a point where I decided to leave New York to embark on a new adventure helping family office investments back in Burma instead.
However, I quickly realized that family offices are also not my type of jam and I’d rather live in New York than anywhere else in the world, not even Bangkok could keep me happy or feel at home. That’s when it hits me that I have spent all my adult life in the US that I just wanted to go back home while being at my literal home (birthplace). Luckily, there was a seat left on an emergency flight back to the US from South Korea and I got myself back to New York after spending 5 months in Burma and Thailand while narrowly avoiding the apocalyptic New York rampaged by the pandemic during that time. One interesting thing to note is that I did some research into microenterprise home kitchen concept/proliferation for my family office role and noticed similar patterns in the US. As an aspiring VC (at that time) I did my research into the US cottage laws and food delivery industry for deal pipelines, so I am no stranger to the numbers and signals in the industry at least.
To cut to the chase, I would like to share some perspectives on why I started Syr after coming back to New York after the impromptu adventure. Syr is a peer-to-peer marketplace for food where people can cook and sell food locally. In the US, the average cost of opening a restaurant is about $375,000 and the cost of starting a food truck is right around $50,000 — $175,000 depending on the location. Syr serves as an incubator for people who want to start their own food businesses with less than $1,000 cost to start.
Syr is committed to serving as a platform that manages microenterprise kitchen operations for independent food creators. The vision is to build a Shopify-like “business in a box” model that helps home chefs form an LLC, go through the proper permitting processes, and build their customers. The point is to enable food entrepreneurs to build a brand following that could transform into a professional retail business rather than create a gig economy for home cooking.
Our users are largely centered around immigrants who are looking for non-traditional ways to earn side income doing what they love from the comfort and safety of their homes. On Syr, most of our food creators are people of color and about 80% are female. The name Syr comes from the Norse Goddess Freya, who represents love, as a tribute to our chefs who made it possible for our users to enjoy food made with love and care through the platform.
Entrepreneurship sounds fun and filled with adventures to many folks today especially with the remote work environment where people have more time in their hands than they ever had before to start something as a small side hustle and to grow into a business. Nevertheless, there are also plenty of downtrodden experiences and a plethora of rejections lying in wake. Overall, everything is hard and overwhelming, the hard thing about the hard things just like Ben Horowitz infamously said, building a business is. The silver lining though is that it only needs a few wins to even out the bad, but those wins depend largely on execution and luck so you must persevere until the bitter end. It’s only over when a founder gives up, really.
Fundraising is hard, getting new users is hard, hiring is hard, managing your board and the team is also hard so there really is no easy way to live once you embark on this entrepreneurship journey. But it is all worth it because it is a billion times better than pretending to act serious about things that lack excitement to you, and you will feel alive.