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Small business, big dreams | Updated: 2013-07-22 13:30

Small business, big dreams

A Chinese breakfast fare, such as Chinese pancake, soybean milk and tofu.[Photo/]

The small fast food restaurant Huang Taiji Traditional Food specializes in traditional Chinese breakfast fare, such as Chinese pancake, soybean milk and tofu, and also embodies the personal philosophy of its founder He Chang.

Before opening his first outlet, Chang, 31, has been something of a nomad in his professional life, dabbling at a number of different professions with varying levels of success. He once worked at China's search engine giant Baidu and previously studied design in Denmark. Despite these dalliances, Chang never gave up his dream of running a restaurant.

In August 2012, he opened his first outlet in Beijing's Central Business District (CBD), which had just 13 seats in no more than 20 square meters of available space. Beijing's CBD features a large cluster of office buildings and before 9 o'clock every morning there is always a long queue of office workers waiting to partake of Huang Taiji's delights.

In the space of just a year, the restaurant has achieved unbelievable success, taking total revenues of almost 1 million yuan per month and achieving an estimated brand value of nearly 40 million yuan. Secret of its success

Jianbing Guozi, the Chinese crepe, is very common in north China and street vendors can be seen serving them up every morning in Beijing. Huang Taiji's success story is perhaps all the more surprising due to the fact that its considerable fortune has been made solely by selling this apparently ordinary food item. So just what is the secret of its success?

Typically in business, the brand name is crucial and the restaurant's name is impressive as it has the same pronunciation as "Huang Taiji", the Qing Dynasty emperor whose groundwork led to the overthrowing of the Ming Dynasty. Literally translated, the Chinese characters mean "Yellow too lucky". Cleary in business, selecting a good name will get you off to a good start.

Quality is also a vital ingredient and the small restaurant recognizes this with its motto: "Quality, fresh ingredients, memorable traditional taste." In He Chang's words, the goal of Huang Taiji is to "cook simple Chinese food to perfection" instead of simply focusing on making money. This, then, is the difference between Huang Taiji and the street vendors. At Huang Taiji, with a piece of Chinese pancake and a bowl of tofu or soybean milk, the emphasis is on the pure enjoyment and taste of a traditional Chinese breakfast.

The founder He Chang and his team are also adept at marketing and grasp every opportunity to promote their brand, often in eye-catching ways. For instance, He Chang and his wife sometimes deliver takeout orders in their Mercedes. In addition, they maintain up-to-date communications with their customers on Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ and Weixin. The strategy is clearly working, as they currently have more than 37,000 followers on Sina Weibo, including several big-name Chinese investors.

Commenting on his marketing strategy, He Chang said the essence of marketing is to do something a bit different and stand out. The strategy is clearly working for Huang Taiji.

But He Chang is fully aware that marketing is just a means and not an end in itself. He said: "In this industry, we need to maintain a lot of regular customers. Therefore, our focus should be the quality of the food and service. When customers are happy with your food and service, marketing is easy."

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