From the Launch Lab to Boxpark

Eat Chay, an Asian vegan food restaurant incubated in the City Launch Lab, has secured a two and a half year space at Shoreditch Boxpark.

The vegan start-up serving bibimbap, kimchi and Korean barbecues, was founded by Liz Nguyen and Joseph Tam (MSc, Marketing Strategy & Innovation, 2016), who both met on their course at City.

During their studies, the pair took Eat Chay into City’s incubation space, the Launch Lab and won the CitySpark competition in 2017.

Liz said: “We were always interested in cooking but we wanted to create something different and made a point to use plant and fruit based ingredients in the food that we grew up with back home.

“After two years of trading at different locations in London and cutting pieces of seitan by hand, Boxpark offered us a place in July this year. We knew we would have to act quickly, so by the following Monday we had sent in our offer and landlord pack.

“We learnt a lot in the Launch Lab and winning CitySpark was very helpful as we developed skills in pitching concisely. This is one of the most important skills to have as when we meet customers we are able to capture them in the first moment.”

Evolve in the industry

The food industry being one of the most difficult to break into means that Eat Chay has had to continue evolving.

Joseph said: “When we first started we wanted to be similar to Veggie Pret, trading with gourmet style foods, but that is not Eat Chay – we are a street food vendor which develops with our customers.

“Anyone starting a business has to keep learning more about themselves and improving. Talk to people and ask for feedback as that is how you evolve – our first pitch was very different to the pitches we are doing now.

Speaking about Eat Chay’s future Liz said: “The food industry looks to be stepping away from chain restaurants, but for us to have multiple sites which link together and allow us to trade at different locations is the aim.

“We have never once thought about doing anything else or whether one of us would step away, this has always been what we have wanted to do.”

Eat Chay were recipients of City’s entrepreneurial incubation space, the Launch Lab. More information about entrepreneurship at City can be found here.