Mogo in the Korea Times!
Hello Mogotarians! We recently had an short article published in the Korea Times with an interview of the CEO of Mogo!
The link to the article is below, as is the full interview with all the parts that didn’t make it into print!
Q. Mogo seems to offer a handful of novel ideas: delivery service, vegetarian-friendly, DIY meal kit. What’s your elevator pitch?
A. My elevator pitch varies for different audiences, but the basic idea is this: Mogo is a first-of-it’s-kind meal-kit delivery service for anyone who has desired for convenient, healthy and delicious pre-packaged food. Mogo’s food is free of artificial colours, chemicals, additives or preservatives and is socially conscious and incredibly simple to make. Mogo’s goal is to shake up the status quo for pre-packaged foods by showing consumers that a quick and easy meal does not have to be either junk food or bland and tasteless, and that cooking and the invention that comes with it can be fun and enriching.
Q. What kind of delivery service is used? ie regular mail, in-house delivery, outsourced to delivery company?
A. Currently I use a standard Korean logistics company who have been great to work with. One of the cornerstones when designing my business plan was that my meal kits had to be easily obtainable without the hurdles or roadblocks of having to create or join a new delivery ecosystem like other food delivery companies have had to do or forced their customers to do, so a standard Korean logistics company was the perfect fit. Simply just go to the website, order, and it’s shipped to you within a few days.
Q. I imagine not including meat products vastly extends shelf life of your products and cuts out a lot of liability on your part. Plus, as your site says, vegetarians face very limited options. Are you a vegetarian? And is there a recommended way of adding meat to the dishes?
A. All Mogo meal kits were designed to be stand-alone but infinitely customizable using meats or other veggies. In fact, some of the meals the Mogo team have created were inspired by dishes that were originally designed using meat as a necessity, but we knew that we could be creative and find alternatives. Designing them in this way actually has many benefits. First of all, as you noted, it allows Mogo meal kits to have a great shelf life without the need for refrigeration, which enables Mogo to compete in the market space that I first envisioned Mogo making an impact in, which is the pre-packaged foods market. Secondly, but no less important, is the social aspect of Mogo meal kits being vegetarian-friendly. The amount of resources to raise an animal for consumption is vastly larger than an equal amount of sustenance via vegetables, and through the labour of love, the Mogo team has been able to create delicious recipes without using meat so it has all worked out well. I am personally not a vegetarian, but I do strongly believe that personal accountability, social responsibility, and sustainability is crucial for the future of our planet, and since Mogo doesn’t need to use meat in its products to make a great tasty meal, that helps to reduce the burden on this little blue orb we call our home.
Q. Why do you make customers prepare the food themselves? Why not just serve as a regular delivery restaurant? I haven’t found any promotional materials on this, though to me it is the most interesting aspect.
A. This is a great question, with a couple of answers. When I first had the idea, I spoke to a prominent Korean angel investor and he told me over and over again that I needed to open a restaraunt. This was only in a very short conversation so I wasn’t able to convey to him what my entire concept was, but I knew that no matter what, that a restaraunt was not the path I wanted to take. Over the years with people’s lives getting busier and with more easy ways to prepare and obtain food, many people have lost touch with what it is to not only cook, but also with the relationship they have with their food. People these days seem to be generally content not knowing what they are eating, and mystery powders and square meat blocks have somehow becoming not only okay, but the norm. Call me a dreamer, but I wanted to change that so a restaraunt was not an option, and I wanted to offer something in the hugely overlooked pre-packaged food industry that is currently littered with some of the worst junk food that someone could possibly consume. Luckily for Mogo, there seems to have been a resurgence of people as of late who have a growing passion for cooking and want to learn more about it, so I think now is the best time for Mogo.
Q. Are the meals all as easy to prepare? Which one is best to try first?
A. All of our meals take less than 35 minutes, and each meal kit comes with a very easy-to-follow recipe card. Another vital point that I had when I came up with this concept was that it had to be easy enough for absolutely anyone to make, and with the least amount of utensils and tools necessary. Most of our meal kits can be made using nothing more than a pot or pan on a stove.
Q. The website says they can be eaten “whenever, wherever,” but I’m assuming you’d need a full kitchen, right?
A. Actually not at all. As long as you have a burner, a pot and pan and a little preparation space, you can literally cook it anywhere. You could even take a portable burner and cook our kits out camping if you wanted to. It’s a really flexible system and meal option.
Q. I like the name, which I’m guessing has a meaning in Korean but also a double meaning, like a pun on “go.” Can you explain the name to me so I can explain it correctly myself?
A. This is a fun story. I chose this name because it sounds similar to the Korean phrase telling someone to eat, when spoken quickly. My mother has said it to me so often that it’s kind of become ingrained into my psyche, so naturally that’s the name I chose. Ironically, I found out after choosing the name that if you write “Mogo” in the Sino-Korean characters traditionally used in poetry, it actually is the word for the drums that are used during dinner time back when that sort of thing was commonly done.
Q. Can I ask about your background? Is this your primary occupation? What makes you an experienced food enthusiast? Have you ever founded a startup before?
A. I’m a Korean American that loves to travel and loves food. This is indeed my primary occupation, as I quit my former company to pursue this dream. While generally it’s more acceptable to let others label you as an “experienced” food enthusiast, I’d say I may fit in that category from the sheer amount of places I’ve traveled to. I’ve had cuisine from over thirty different countries so it’s help shaped my love for food as a singular, massive and delicious entity and inspired me to share some of those tastes through Mogo. When I was living in New York I did attempt to start a startup but unfortunately I attempted to do so during the last big recession so it wasn’t successful. It was definitely a situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, though I did learn a lot from it and have applied those learnings with Mogo.