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Theo started KPOP Foods in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on KPOP Foods?
Growing up in Korean American families, we were fortunate to be surrounded by Korean food all the time. However, along with the food, an important principle that was instilled in us was the connection between Korean food and family, friends, and fun.
Mike and I met at business school at UCLA Anderson where we would take large groups of friends to Koreatown in Los Angeles to enjoy Korean food. Along with enjoying the food, our friends embraced the Korean culture and the energetic atmosphere.
This is what sparked the idea for KPOP Foods. We wanted to replicate the sensory and social experience our friends had at Korean BBQ and share it with the world!
The UCLA Anderson community played, and continues to play, a major role in KPOP Foods. We took the concept and business plan for KPOP Foods through UCLA Anderson’s entrepreneurial classes and startup program called Business Creation Option, a field study option required for graduation.
Prior to business school, Mike served in the U.S. Army and I came from a finance and banking background so neither of us had any real experience in food nor marketing.
Mike on patrol in Afghanistan
Our classmates, professors, and other members of faculty were instrumental in advising and helping us during our Kickstarter campaign, which launched during our final quarter at business school, and connecting us to potential investors, advisors, and food industry professionals.
If you’d like to learn more, I’ve actually written a LinkedIn post about UCLA Anderson’s role in KPOP Foods.
The Kickstarter campaign was key in validating our idea and giving us the confidence to pursue KPOP Foods full-time.
But even before Kickstarter, we did hours of research, talking to CEOs and founders of other successful Kickstarter campaigns, running focus groups to test our brand story and variations of KPOP Sauce, and picking people’s brains on ideas for our Kickstarter video.
We also found a way to create samples by buying little bento box soy sauce containers shaped like pigs and filling them up with KPOP Sauce to send to our friends and people interested across the nation.
The samples were great as we were able to send them in the mail, keeping costs low as we paid for everything ourselves with our savings and credit cards. This was also helpful in getting the awareness of our Kickstarter campaign out to people.
Our sample KPOP piglets...
As MBA students, we had significant student loans and were presented with opportunities to work at great companies, but thanks to our Kickstarter campaign, we were able to raise an initial investment round, allowing us to pay ourselves a minimum salary to cover rent, loan payments, and basic living expenses.
This was our chance to build something on our own and work for something that we truly loved so we dove right in.