Spoon got the chance to interview three former USC students about their experiences starting an acai bowl food truck in the past year.
Amy Gong: Communications major, ’14
Bryan Leong: Finance major, ’13
Desmond Ng: Finance major, ’13
Spoon: What led to the idea to introduce acai bowls to LA?
BL: Desmond went to Santa Barbara and liked it so much because of its health attributes. Acai bowls are gluten-free, dairy-free and very healthy, so he looked into how to replicate that at home. Healthy food is either really gross or really expensive, so when I saw the opportunity to make something not only affordable, but also delicious, I wanted to take the chance to provide that.
AG: I’m a foodie who is interested in marketing, so I’ve always liked the idea of doing something that incorporated both those sides. However, I had developed a gluten allergy a few years ago, and as a result, couldn’t eat as many foods. Acai bowls are amazing because they are actually very healthy, and are gluten-free, and I thought it’d be really cool to introduce them to others with the same allergy as me.
S: How did you guys start Amazebowls?
BL: We had just graduated, and didn’t have much money. Opening a store is a really big time commitment, and we decided to choose a truck. Trucks can also go places and test out the market and see if people would buy our product.
S: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as you opened up Amazebowls?
AG: Educating people and telling them what acai berries are what acai bowls are, and telling them that it’s something delicious and healthy. Another was that because we were not very experienced (and were students), it was really hard to do in-depth research on the industry. For example, where to find the best supplies for the best prices. Another is dealing with the health department… they don’t really like food trucks that much, so there were a few hurdles getting through that. I think the fact that we sell healthy food does help that, though.
S: Share a memorable experience/favorite memory.
AG: First day of operations, we were at a gym in Santa Monica, and our first customer was the creator of the minions from Despicable Me. He even drew a minion on the reciept for us and we still have it to this day. The next week he came back, too.
S: What advice do you have for student food entrepreneurs?
BL: Do your research, especially if you’re not very knowledgable about the industry. We had a lot of ideas, but it was a lot harder to execute because we didn’t know too much about the food and beverage industry. If we had done a lot more research, we would have minimized mistakes. Also, you really need to believe in your product or service. Don’t just do it for the money.
AG: Take the risk to do something that you want to do. We just took the risk, did our research, and it paid off.
Check out when the Amazebowl truck is on campus here.