Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Vincent Kitirattragarn, founder and CEO of Dang Foods, explains how this image represents his business.
Dang Foods imports and markets better-for-you snacks inspired by the heritage cuisine of Southeast Asia. I launched the company in 2012 after my mother gave me a recipe for Miang Kum, a Northern Thai dish that requires toasted coconut. At the time, I was cooking experimental dishes for the San Francisco Underground Farmer's Market. Once I made the dish, my roommates swarmed into the kitchen, drawn by the smell of the toasted coconuts. Noting their interest in it as a snack, I called my family in Thailand to find more because it tasted so dang good!
This photo shows my brother Andrew and me on one of our sourcing trips to Thailand. It encompasses our journey as a family-run company, built on the backs of coconut as a vital ingredient.
Our biggest challenge is creating a new category in the supermarket. Educating consumers is a core part of our go-to market strategy, and that's done one person at a time. Creating a new category is also one of our biggest opportunities; staking a claim to a new market with a "blue ocean" product.
We also have to deal with overseas suppliers who can be very resistant to change – getting them non-GMO or organic certified can be a big challenge – environmental impact is second to financial reward, so our approach is to show them the financial benefit of certification.
In the next few years, we'll continue to launch new snacks and grow distribution in the conventional, club, food service and ecommerce channels, first in the U.S., then internationally.
Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.