A sensuous experience in a cinema gave Zac Chua the incentive to start his own popcorn business, using the flavours of Asia.
What’s your story?
I’m Zac, Founder and CEO of popcorn distributor and manufacturer The Kettle Gourmet. Having always wanted to be my own boss, I started the company after smelling the overbearing delicious aroma of Nasi Lemak whilst enjoying my popcorn in the cinema. As a foodie, I love the unique, local flavours from across all Asia and with The Kettle Gourmet I aim to combine these delicious flavours with popcorn. Four years on from starting the business in my kitchen, we typically move an average of 1,200 bags of popcorn daily.
What excites you most about your industry?
The F&B sector is an incredibly volatile industry, which means it’s an exciting space to work in. Not only are there new trends and consumer needs or desires that are constantly changing due to circumstances – which we’ve seen hugely over the last year – but there are always new flavours and recipes that are always emerging. As Singapore’s food scene continues to rise, I look forward to incorporating these exciting and vibrant flavours into our popcorn.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Growing up I realized that I have more drive than everyone around me. I believe I’m an incredibly motivated person and have always aimed to achieve the best possible results. Mixing this character trait with being a food lover and a proud Singaporean, I always aim to make sure The Kettle Gourmet offers the best, unique flavours to consumers.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Other than running a business itself, I would say that my influence and negotiation skills have been the most useful throughout my journey as CEO of The Kettle Gourmet. Running a small team, made up of an average of 22 years old, I use these two traits everyday to make sure that together we create the best popcorn for our consumers. Another large aspect of The Kettle Gourmet is liaising and working with existing or potential partners, suppliers and clients whom I meet on a weekly basis to continue our relationship and expand our reach across Singapore and further afield!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history – so just “whack”.
Who inspires you?
My late father, a Venture Capitalist, who taught me the importance of being humble.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
$0.01 doubled everyday for 31 days equals $10 million.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would concentrate my time and efforts into building the foundation of the business properly by sourcing the right suppliers, hiring like-minded and driven employees, investing more in branding and PR for The Kettle Gourmet and lastly, taking guidance from mentors who have the necessary experience and knowledge to help me start my own business.
How do you unwind?
As a people person, I love to unwind at the end of a long week with my colleagues, friends and/or family. At The Kettle Gourmet offices, we’ve renamed Friday ‘People Day’ and my favourite thing to do, winding down into the weekend, is to play either a game of Mahjong or Dota 2 together.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
In the early days of launching The Kettle Gourmet, I decided to focus on implementing a purely digital-first approach, selling our popcorn through our own website and partnering with online retailers across Singapore. Looking back on it now, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made, as throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit other F&B companies incredibly hard, we’ve managed to come out even stronger and better, with sales growing 247% amidst the pandemic.
Everyone in business should read this book:
‘The 5am Club’, written by one of my favourite authors, Robin Sharma, which dictates how a strict morning routine can be a catalyst to maximum productivity, good health and even success. As a creature of habit, I base my everyday routine off this book and have found that I am happier and more driven in both my personal and professional life.
Shameless plug for your business:
The Kettle Gourmet is a Singapore-based popcorn manufacturer and distributor. Aiming to make snacking fun for consumers it features a range of local, unique flavours including Kaya Butter Toast, Chilli Crab, Chicken Floss and Nasi Lemak, as well as traditional favourites Salted Caramel and Chocolate. The Kettle Gourmet uses only the highest-quality ingredients including non-GMO natural corn and has no trans-fat in its baking process. As well as offering family and smaller sized packets of delicious popcorn, The Kettle curates gift boxes of various sizes (from $32 for six packs) for consumers to send to friends, families or clients.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.