The disruptive entrepreneur: Emmanuelle Coulon
We have created a new series at Neat, interviewing entrepreneurs from around the world to share knowledge and advice on why they decided to start their own business, what challenges they came up against and any advice they would give to a new entrepreneur!
Our entrepreneur this month is Emmanuelle Coulon. Emmanuelle started Maison Foodie, an export and marketing agency. Let’s hear from her directly…
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
Born in France, I come from a family of entrepreneurs. Asia has always attracted me: I am a black belt in judo and I started learning mandarin in high school. As a student, I had the opportunity to study in Singapore for one semester. This is when I fell in love with the region!
I began my career in France as a consultant specialising in technology and digital marketing. But my goal was to go back to Asia. In 2016, I finally moved to Singapore. I spent three amazing years there and then moved to Hong Kong. I was still a consultant, working with large corporations such as Jardines, Accor, Sephora.
When I arrived in Hong Kong, I knew it was the right time and the right place to launch my agency to support European companies in their growth in Asia.
What is your business you started?
Maison Foodie is an export and marketing agency. Our mission is to help European brands grow their business in Hong Kong, Singapore and China.
Asia is a very challenging region for foreign companies. This is why we bring together our expertise in Asian markets and our understanding of the European culture to help them scale in these attractive consumer markets. We provide three complementary types of services: go-to-market strategy, business development and brand building.
We are proud to partner with ambitious and innovative brands in consumer industries. Just to name a few, Maison Sassy, the contemporary French cider, Didier Goubet, the world’s finest vine grape juice from Bordeaux, and Champagne EPC, one of the most innovative champagne.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Coming from Europe and living in Asia, I am passionate about connecting my home region with my adopted region. European companies have highly valuable products to offer in Asia. But they struggle to understand Asian consumers and sometimes fail to efficiently connect with them.
Many entrepreneurs had contacted me asking for recommendations and advice about Asia. Step by step, I started collaborating with a few brands in food and beverage about their launch strategy in the region. I realised I was really excited about helping them write their success story here. This is when I decided to officially launch Maison Foodie! Our mission is to help ambitious brands unlock their potential in the region.
What is the most exciting thing about starting your own business?
Having a real impact. As an entrepreneur, you contribute to the mission you have defined. I am proud when I look at our clients and the accomplishments we have made together. For example, it feels so rewarding to see people falling in love with French cider Sassy. Taking part in the launch and growth of amazing brands in Asia is what drives me.
What are the biggest challenges you find starting your own business?
As an entrepreneur, you always have to reinvent yourself. On the one side, it is very stimulating. On the other side, it is a daunting challenge. The COVID crisis has reminded us how critical it is to be able to adapt very quickly. You have to be ready to rapidly change your strategy and find creative solutions. It is an even more complex task because, as a leader, you need to maintain a clear vision for your business and be able to unite your team around it.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Go out, meet people and share your ideas! When you are an entrepreneur, you may feel locked in your day-to-day operations, staying all day (and night) long in the office. You might be tempted to work on your project before starting to talk about it. But meeting with fellow entrepreneurs, customers and partners and sharing your project with them is essential to make progress. This has enabled me to look at my business from a different perspective, test my ideas and get valuable feedback. Also, every meeting is a chance to create new business opportunities.
Get more information about Maison Foodie here.