Global Young Entrepreneur Star Awardee in Berlin, Ting, Hsin Yu Builds Taiwanese-style Restaurant Brand
The first time Ting Hsin Yu ever visited Germany was in 2013, when she went on a working holiday in the boutique industry, after which she returned to Taiwan for a few years, and then decided to leave the comfort of Taiwan and visited Germany again. She still worked in the boutique industry, but deep within, the seed of desire for opening up her own business had started to grow. Since her family in Taiwan owned a hot pot restaurant, she considered the possibility of starting up her own business in Berlin with the catering industry.
In the initial stage of starting her own business, Ting Hsin Yu still worked regular hours in the boutique industry to maintain fixed income, while at the same time she began planning her company's set up. In the process, she faced many difficulties such as having to read many Germany documents, face slow and inefficient operating procedures, understand complex catering regulations, and overcome language barriers, some of which even the Germans could not understand, and yet she strived on; and because she was so persistent, she not only relied on professional lawyers for help, but also became acquainted with many vendors at the market, with whom she later became friends with. The most difficult part of starting up or branding a new company, she says, is the "people problem"; finding someone suitable to work with in that startup, and having mutual trust with your partner is especially important, you also get to learn a lot through the process as well.
Ting had just decided to quit her full-time job when the pandemic struck and Germany went into lockdown, half of the market vendors that she knew gave up their side jobs in the catering industry and focused on their full-time jobs working from home. Ting also faced the dilemma of whether she should continue with her start-up or just simply give up. However, with encouragement from her vendor friends, she began working with food delivery platforms, and after a while her sales volume gradually increased, eventually returning to that before the lockdown. This increased her confidence tremendously, and she decided to continue with her plans.
She gauged for several years, seizing every opportunity to adjust her menu and update menu items, finally she decided to search for a storefront for her restaurant, the Mibap. She then confirmed the restaurant's menu, set to feature small hot pots, six Taiwanese-styled bentos (lunchboxes), Taiwanese egg cakes, and bubble tea. She brought two commercial cake machines directly from Taiwan to Berlin to make egg cakes; her family's hotpot soup recipe from Taiwan became her heritage in Berlin; she did not adjust flavors of the Taiwanese-styled bentos to please German customers, they remained served with Taiwanese features. The biggest Taiwanese feature of the restaurant is its uniquely tiled bar and tiled floor, recreating her early memories of school in Taiwan.
Ting visited and observed customers in many cities when she was conducting market research, she found there were major differences in consumer behavior. For example, customers were already familiar with Japanese ramen in Japanese restaurants, they were used to sauce-drenched Korean fried chicken in Korean restaurants, but the Taiwanese-styled bento often required a more detailed introduction and explanation.Ting hopes that there will be more Taiwanese-styled restaurants in Berlin. She believes that when the number of a certain product increases, branding of its food culture can be established.
The then Secretary of Taipei's Representative Office in Germany Chang Kuan-Jing often ordered bentos from Mibap for the events, she thus knew the potentials of Mibap and recommended Ting to compete for the "Global Young Entrepreneur Star Award", after which Ting was awarded and became more engaged in exchanges with Taiwanese instructors on matters of business operations. In her restaurant, Ting used tables and chairs that could be easily moved around due to her vision of attracting more Taiwanese customers, and creating a venue for the overseas community to interact with each other, a place where Taiwan-related events can be held. So far, events such as the OCAC Tour of Taiwan Gourmet Cuisines and Meet Up for Taiwan Film Festival Berlin have been held at Mibap, Ting hopes that it can further become a venue in Germany that consolidates Taiwanese people's strengths and promotes Taiwan's rich and diverse cultural values.
OCAC Deputy Minister Hsu Chia-Chin (middle) dined at Mibap on her visit in Germany, Ambassador James Hsieh (right), and Mibap owner Ting Hsin Yu (left).
The unique tiled bar is the first that comes to view upon entering Mibap, the tiles and Zhuyin symbols demonstrate strong Taiwanese features.
The restaurant's regular dish, the hotpot, with its soup recipe and ingredients exported from Taiwan.
The restaurant is often packed with Taiwanese customers that come for a taste of hotpot.