Trendsetters Redefining Limits | Small Business Saturday 2020
by Christine Kim·
Small Business Saturday is all about celebrating small businesses. For this year's festivities we want to spotlight two incredible trailblazers. They are the fearless and innovative founders of Nguyen Coffee Supply and Neuro. We sat down with them (2020 via Zoom style) and learned how they are pushing the envelope in their respective industries.
Nguyen Coffee Supply is the first Vietnamese-American owned importer and roaster of green coffee beans from Vietnam to New York. The international journey of these coffee beans underscores a whole new game plan. Sahra Nguyen, the founder of Nguyen Coffee Supply, is unapologetically working towards bringing visibility, representation and transparency to Vietnam– revising the conversation on a global scale.
As a first generation Vietnamese American, she had the ability to see the world through different angles. She recognized Vietnamese food and culture was having its moment– especially in New York. Parallel to that wavelength, the coffee industry was leveling up offering specialty coffee and rendered a keen subculture. She saw the injustice in the coffee conversation because Vietnam is the second largest coffee producer in the world, yet there was a distinguishable disconnect.
“When Vietnamese coffee leaves Vietnam, it gets slapped on a label as no longer Vietnamese coffee. So people don’t have that cultural association, cultural connection, or even a sense of recognition for Vietnam and the producers and farmers,” Sahra said.
Instead of waiting for someone else to solve the problem, Sahra took it into her own hands. She decided to break the cycle by establishing direct-trade with growers and farmers in Vietnam. For her company, it’s a collective investment that elevates the entire supply chain and improves the sustainability for the farmers and the land. One of the main challenges included marketing the robusta bean. By debunking the stigma and classism that exists between robusta and arabica beans, Sahra is shifting the whole coffee community paradigm.
Nguyen Coffee Supply offers coffee blends “Loyalty”, “True Grit”, and “Moxy” (the names speak for themselves). These bold, conversation-starter blends could be found on their website. Don’t forget to check out their Phin Filters too.
Neuro is reimagining functional gum and mints to optimize state of mind. It is replacing the medicine cabinet supplements that people consume to feel healthy and transforming it into a more shareable, take-it-anywhere product. Introducing Neuro Gum and Neuro Mints.
The co-founders Kent Yoshimura and Ryan Chen met in an advanced Japanese class in college and bonded over Super Smash Bros. (They still play to this day and if they’re ever upset at each other, best guess it’s not about the business but Super Smash Bros.) One understood business advice is to not start one with your friend, but similar to their innovative business, Kent and Ryan are one isolated exception. They both understand in order to be the best versions of ourselves, it begins with the mind.
Kent used to train with Japanese Olympic judo team and competed internationally. Ryan, who became paralyzed from the waist down after a snowboarding trip, trained with the U.S. Paralympic Cross Country and Track Team. As athletes competing at the Olympic level, they first handedly understand the importance of the mind.
“It doesn’t stop him from doing all these different things because his state of mind is so strong. A lot of the things we do within our company revolves around how can we help people achieve a better mental state,” Kent said.
For these two, anything is possible with the right state of mind. Their hard work from the early days of packaging orders from their home and dedication to the core belief of their company has evolved into what we see today. Neuro made appearances on Time magazine Shark Tank, Dr. Oz, or Forbes 30 under 30.
“I love working on it every single day because it truly encompasses everything I want to do and everything I believe in. Every single thing I do in my life, whether it’s art, music, physical activity, it's all part of what Neuro represents.”
It’s more than a product, it’s making the possibility to be the best versions of ourselves accessible.
Neuro can be found in about 5,000 CVS stores nationwide, Amazon, Whole Foods and JetBlue. Oh, and of course on their website.
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