Dessert Pandamonium: Q&A with Katie Kang, Co-Founder of Kokopanda

It made its debut on 16th December 2016 at Plaza Singapura, and now it’s here to stay.

Kokopanda is the Korean softserve and beverage brand, which specialises in its wide array of superfood toppings, and it aims to start a new trend in guilt-free indulgence.

From desserts such as KoKo Twisto (a combination of half back yoga and held white cremo) to fruit enzyme drinks such as Cranberry Snow Pear and Jeju Tangerine, you’ll be sure to enjoy the taste and gain the benefits of superfoods in a delicious dessert and beverage! 

LadyBoss was invited to have a taste.

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It looks like the Korean brand is here to stay in our sunny island. When we asked Katie why Singapore is a strategic location for Kokopanda, Katie commented that the sunny weather is a perfect climate for consumers in search of something healthy yet tastes good.

Putting a twist on superfoods, we personally enjoyed the KoKo Twisto with dried fruits as a topping. With so many of our favourite fruits, we were spoilt for choice, and loved it! If we had to rate it — we’d give it 4/5 stars.

We also interviewed Katie of Kokopanda to talk about the business.

The concept of Kokopanda started out with the idea of “a cute little panda who was forced to come out of its own habitat due to rapid urbanisation, and had to go into the city to find food”.

Q: Tell us about your business. How long you’ve been doing it, and who are your customers?

A: Kokopanda just opened its first store outlet two months ago in December, at Plaza Singapura, and our main target audience are the wealthy and health conscious millennials.

Q: What are some of the benefits of consuming superfoods?

A: I strongly believe that we are what we eat. Therefore, our business motto is built on providing consumers with “guilt free indulgence”. By offering nutrients loaded superfood toppings such as chia seeds, we give our customers an option to choose delicious desserts that they can indulge in, while at the same time not having to give up enjoying what they like.

Q: What are your popular toppings and beverages? And what’s your personal favourite?

A: Our most popular toppings are the Korean dried fruits, especially the Jeju tangerine slices which are sweet and crispy!

My personal favourite however, is the dried strawberries.

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I later decided to pursue my passion in interior design instead of going back to the corporate world. Other than helping out with my friend’s fabric business, I also ran my own interior design consulting service business.

Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? Tell us about your background and how it helps you with what you are doing now?

A: After graduating from engineering school, I worked in the finance industry for a few years until my third child was born. I knew then that I wanted to spend more time with my family, and so I quit my job to become a stay home mum. It was a challenging time of transition during that period of being at home. However, I later decided to pursue my passion in interior design instead of going back to the corporate world. Other than helping out with my friend’s fabric business, I also ran my own interior design consulting service business.

Q: What’s the idea behind KokoPanda? How did you first come up with the idea?

A: The concept of Kokopanda started out with the idea of “a cute little panda who was forced to come out of its own habitat due to rapid urbanisation, and had to go into the city to find food.” We wanted to raise awareness of the extinction of cute animals like panda, through a simple story that everyone can remember. (A panda comes to town and fell in love with Korean healthy foods.) Just like how many of us are in love with Korean cuisine in Singapore!

Twisto White BckGrd

Q: What makes KokoPanda different from its competitors?

A: Our ingredients, which are mostly sourced from Korea. With the bulk of them being dried super foods, we think that they are more hygienic than perishable foods. We also offer both ice creams/ soft serves as well as healthy drinks. To me, our black yogurt and milk soft serve are the best amongst what I have had tried so far. Not only does it taste good, visually it’s appealing as well.

KOKOKONGO

I’ve met lots of Korean suppliers, however, I would only choose those whom I find trustworthy after visiting their warehouse and reviewing thoroughly on their quality control.

Q: How do you maintain the quality of your ingredients?

A: Coming from Korea, I know that our farmers treat our food products with great care. I’ve met lots of Korean suppliers, however, I would only choose those whom I find trustworthy after visiting their warehouse and reviewing thoroughly on their quality control.

Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?

A: We focus a lot on marketing on social media, as our main target audience are wealthy millennials who are likely to spend most of their time on the internet and mobile phones. We also try to reach out to the students attending schools near our shop. So far, we have quite a substantial number of followers on Instagram and Facebook. Most of our products are photo worthy, unique and colourful, which explains it.

Q: Where do you see the future of KokoPanda? Any upcoming branches?

Our goal is to set a new trend, based on the concept of guilt-free indulgence to both local and regional customers. We are looking at opening more outlets island wide, with 6-8 more branches within the year, as well as a new upcoming branch in Hong Kong.

Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?

A: Creating traffic to the hidden corner of a vast shopping mall like Plaza Singapura! We wanted to open our first shop in a central location as soon as possible, but all the good locations were taken and not easily available. Thankfully, we eventually managed to get our first shop open but it’s not easy to attract human traffic towards our shop as we are located at the back.

Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?

A: My family is my greatest source of motivation. I worked hard to support my family, and it’s heartening to know that all my children love to eat our ice cream, especially the Koko Twisto! I really liked the idea that we can add value to people’s life by providing and educating them on the availability of healthy and guilt-free dessert in town.

Keep trying and keep doing.

Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs keen in starting a business?

A: Keep trying and keep doing. I spent a long time just thinking and planning about what I wanted to do. But through all these years, I learnt that the only mistake I made was not acting on what I really wanted to do. It takes a lot of courage to deal with failure and rejection, but you will get stronger and wiser from there.

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