Meet Aaron Mo from Ong Ong Buns

Introducing our latest Member Spotlight – meet Aaron Mo, the visionary founder behind Ong Ong Buns, an Asian bakery on the rise. 

Founded with passion and determination, Ong Ong Buns’ flavourful journey began when Aaron realised just how good his wife’s baking was! Fast forward, and their delectable creations have now garnered a devoted following, leading to the establishment of a thriving pop-up store in a coveted location.

Fuelled by their entrepreneurial spirit and a taste for success, Aaron and his team are now poised for expansion. With the support of Funding Options by Tide, they’ve unlocked the means to grow sustainably while staying true to their roots. 

Join us as we speak with Aaron about their startup journey bringing Asian flavours to the forefront of the London bakery scene. 

Hi Aaron, thanks for speaking with us today! So, tell us, why did you start your business? 

My wife came to England just before lockdown and I discovered that her baking was very good! She does Chinese baking and Asian baked goods. It’s something that you don’t really get in Britain, at least in London. 

I thought if Bao Buns are already popular and baked goods are popular all over the Western world anyway, maybe it’s worth trying to set up a business. 

I also noticed that during lockdown, people were looking for different types of foods and more interesting things to eat. So, I saw this gap in the market and we were willing to take a risk. 

How did you get the ball rolling?

We started off by making some Chinese New Year cookies and selling those in an Asian supermarket. I took the risk of not selling online as I didn’t think people would be searching for that type of food. I wanted to look for a bricks and mortar building that would allow us to interact with people and explain more about what these goods are.

So, we found a place in Shoreditch, and as we grew, we had to keep moving to bigger and bigger premises. Now, we’re in Westfields in Stratford with a pop-up shop. But our more important investment was the bigger kitchen which is allowing us to grow more sustainably. 

Can you tell us more about running your business? Who do you have working with you? 

It started out with myself, my wife and my mum. Then once we started growing we had to hire more people. So, now we employ about 10 people, most of them part-time. 

What does a typical day look like at your business?

My role has changed a lot since we’ve grown. Initially, I focused on selling in front of house. But now, I’ve got a dedicated team for that as well as a dedicated team of bakers. 

Now that we have the people and are able to produce more goods, I can spend my time looking at ways to expand the business, like looking for more wholesalers, talking to people about taking on our buns and increasing our revenue. 

I can look for a second shop as well or more pop ups. So nowadays, I do a lot of chatting to people, deliveries, marketing, and the social media side of things.

What’s one thing people didn’t tell you about running your own business? 

The growing stage. I guess when I started, I was aware, and also warned, about the first three years, about keeping a company alive. It’s difficult. We’re still within those three years so we’re always up and down. There’s always threats of closure with us. 

The times when we’ve faced closure, it’s when we’ve tried to grow too quickly. It happened when we had two sites, one in Shoreditch and Covent Garden, which we had to close down. 

So, it’s really about knowing how to grow and when to grow, that’s the hardest thing. And how to do it sustainably. I don’t know if anyone really does know how to do it! At least, not until you get put into that situation.

Tell us about your experience with Funding Options by Tide. What made you choose us when you were looking for finance?

Just before December, I found a very good opportunity. There was this arch unit that had a relatively well-known bakery that had closed down and it had a fully fitted bakery. 

So, I had this opportunity to take over the equipment from the company and do so without investing too much in machines and fittings. It made sense.

When it got to the point of talking about contracts and so forth, I started to understand just how much money I needed. It was a lot for a two-year old company!

I was Googling and found Funding Options by Tide. Kaman was just fantastic. She was so dedicated to us. She knew that I wasn’t very clued up on finances and she was great at just breaking things down really well so that I could understand my options and the pros and cons of everything. 

She was very good at talking to her network and seeing what the best options were for me. The fact that she managed to find someone to loan us this money was something I didn’t think would happen. Kaman really made a lot of effort and I trusted her a lot.

Did you find it difficult or daunting to get finance before using Funding Options by Tide?

I did manage to get a personal loan to start the business but in terms of growing, it was very much unknown to me.

I didn’t know how to talk to banks or what to do or even what to Google for. So, yeah, it was very daunting, and a lot of guidance was necessary! 

Do you think there are any misconceptions about securing business finance? 

It was quite a daunting process, but then once you’ve done it, you realise actually it’s not so bad and there’s ways that you can access finance in a safe and secure way.

How did you use the finance you found through Funding Options by Tide? 

At the beginning, I was actually going to ask for more money with the idea to invest in the equipment from the established bakery but also to open another shop. Kaman was very good at just helping tone down my expectations and that allowed me to prioritise and focus on the equipment which was the best decision. 

Would you recommend Funding Options by Tide to a business owner looking for finance, and why?

I would. In fact, I have used Funding Option by Tide again since! I needed more finance to pay for a deposit to launch the pop up at Westfields. I didn’t look for help with funding from anyone else because I completely trusted Kaman.

Ready to start your finance journey and see your funding options? Get a no obligation quote now

Ruby Moore

Ruby Moore

Midweight Copywriter

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