Cynthia Tenggara: Catering Business Owner Who Doesn’t Like to Cook

Three years ago, Cynthia Tenggara never thought that she would become an owner of a food business like today. 

At that time, Cynthia –who doesn't like to cook– was thinking of becoming a stewardess for an international airline. The 28-year-old got motivated by her fiancé, an experienced entrepreneur who had built several startups, and finally decided to start an e-commerce business.

“(At that time) food commerce was booming in Japan and didn’t exist in Indonesia,” Cynthia told LiveOlive. 

She continued by enthusiastically explained how she started the bento delivery and online catering company, Berry Kitchen, until it has 45 employees and serves at least 450 customers per day. Although the company is still lack of experience and must compete with many other well-established catering companies in town, Berry Kitchen seeks to innovate by being the only online catering company in Indonesia which offers at least a dozen different dishes each day. This year, the company will expand its business further upon receiving Rp 500 million of seed funding from ANGIN –an angel investment network initiated by the Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI).

In the midst of her busy schedule to run a business, create new menus and prepare herself for the upcoming wedding, Cynthia shared some of her views on money, work and life principles that she inherited from her family.

LO: When you were growing up, what was money like for you?

Cynthia: I have always believed that money is important, but it is not the most important thing in life. The reason is because I can still be happy with what I have; therefore money is not my ultimate goal. My parents own a shop and they always managed to finish work and go home before 6 pm. They are not rich, but they are happy.

LO: What did your parents teach you about money?

Cynthia: My parents are quite thrifty, so they always think carefully before buying something. I was taught not to idolize money, because money is not everything. Also, I’m used to give tithes since I was able to make money. I remember vividly the first time I received a salary of Rp 1.7 million and lived in a boarding house and have to support myself. I was supposed to give all of it as an offering but I couldn’t afford to lose all of the money, so I ended up paying off my “debt” within two months.     

LO: How do you manage your money?

Cynthia: I do not have a budget, but I always have a rough estimate (of spending) every month. My income basically covers my daily expenses and savings. I try to save 20% consistently each month. This month I would like to have insurance and start investing my money.

LO:  What was the worst money decision you have ever made?

Cynthia: Let me think… One time –after experiencing a break-up– I used 20% of my savings for traveling and shopping alone in Singapore for a week. 

LO: What was the best money decision you have ever made?

Cynthia: Using my savings to invest in Berry Kitchen. The result is yet to be seen, but I have learned a lot of new things and met many people that I would not have met if it wasn’t for this business.

LO: What did you prepare when you started Berry Kitchen?

Cynthia: Since I used my own money, I tried to minimize the capital by utilizing a website. My starting capital at that time was around Rp 100 million. Before that, I had set aside an emergency fund which would cover 8-12 months of living expenses.

LO: Over the past two years, there must be a lot of challenges in building your business?

Cynthia: Yes, the challenge is always there. For example, we initially only have one chef who learned about restaurant business through self-learning for 9 years; therefore our knowledge about food ingredients and other things were lacking. That's why we needed a long time to do trial and error. Since we now have a new partner, this problem is solved. (Ivan de Putra, an experienced chef who had worked at the prestigious restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Singapore, joined as head chef and one of the shareholders in Berry Kitchen since last January).

LO: What do you do after receiving investment from ANGIN?

Cynthia: We used the money to renovate the kitchen, buy new equipments such as vegetable washing machine etc. We are also planning to hire more people to develop the website and add 5-6 people in managerial level. Compared to the financial support, what is more useful is the mentoring that we receive from female entrepreneurs who have successfully nurtured their offline businesses.   

LO: What is your definition of wealth?

Cynthia: Wealthy is being able to live like a king and give like a king; when a person has Rp 50 million to live and another Rp 50 million to be given away. If we are still self-centric, that means we are not wealthy yet. (Cynthia coordinated a charity called “Spare for Share”, where she collected branded preloved items from her friends and sold them at extremely low prices to lower middle class workers. The entire sales proceeds were donated further to another foundation or home that needs it).

LO: What are your plans within the next 5 years?

Cynthia: Five years from now, I want Berry Kitchen to break even and sell 1000-1500 lunch boxes per day.

Read more: I Want to Take Cooking and Baking Lesson

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