From failure to fortune in a box
A broken down car, a failed business model and no customers - sounds like a recipe for disaster. For most, this would be the end of the road, but for The Roots Market, it was an opportunity for change.
UTS Business alumna, Daisy Park and her partner David Contreras, grew up eating traditional meals from their mother countries, Korea and Columbia, and they wanted to find a way to share the unique tastes and ingredients that connect them to their culture and each other.
This fed the inspiration behind their startup, The Roots Market - a thoughtfully curated subscription box filled with undiscovered foods from cultures around the world, delivered directly to your doorstep.
The pair work closely with locals who recommend the must-try foods and drinks from their countries to help others discover the world through food, one box at a time. But The Roots Market wasn’t always successful. With a big mission and little experience, founders Daisy and David have learnt to love failure.
“Learning and sharing our culture through food has not only been a part of our lives growing up, but also our relationship and travels. We realised there is already plenty right here in Sydney to explore but it's not always accessible so we’ve made it our mission to help bring the world a little closer to people,” she said.
To make this mission possible, the couple made the mutual decision to quit their full-time jobs and chase their dream. But it wasn’t easy. After launching their business in February this year, the founders experienced what most startups do at some stage in their journey: failure.
What went wrong?
Leading up to the first launch of their product, the couple ran into a series of unfortunate events including a broken-down car, leaving them no choice but to give away all the food they’d prepared and go back to the drawing board.
There were logistical issues too. The Roots Market originally used a one-time purchase model for their e-commerce business, selling individual food ingredients and drinks through multiple suppliers. However, they quickly faced problems working with multiple businesses and not having their own website.
Instead of giving in, Daisy and David decided to pivot and adopt a subscription business model. And in the company’s first month of launching their new monthly mystery box, they sold over 35 discovery boxes, showing that challenges are often the best opportunities for improvement.
“We're here to break down cultural barriers through food and make the experience of discovering other cultures and communities fun and easy,” said Daisy.
Learning to love failure
Their struggle taught the couple many valuable lessons - be flexible, don’t stay loyal to an idea that isn’t working, ask for help, be resourceful. But above all, love failure.
“Part of being an entrepreneur is bracing for that type of impact and bracing for failure,” said David. “Failure is the twin sister of entrepreneurship and the more you work with her the more successful you’ll be in the future.”
The UTS Startups community was instrumental in supporting The Roots Market through their ups and downs.
“UTS Startups has offered us a supportive and inclusive community, team members, incredible mentors, workshops and more,” they said.
Director of Entrepreneurship at UTS, Murray Hurps says community is at the heart of managing the risks associated with entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship will always be a little bit risky but it can be less dangerous if done in the right environment and we’re here to provide that environment.”
Daisy and David know that the struggle is far from over but are excited to continue their journey.
“We are still learning from our mistakes and every time we stand up from a mistake, we continue growing,” said David.
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