Aihui Ong, Founder and CEO of Love With Food: a subscription-based, healthy snack-snack food company that delivers the best available snacks every month to your door joins eHealth Radio and the General Health and Nutrition Channels.
- What were you doing before you started Love With Food?
- What lead you to the idea of starting Love With Food?
- What does using the name “Love With Food” mean to you?
- What distinguishes Love With Food from other gift box services?
- What is the key to running a successful business in such a competitive industry?
- What is the measurement of your success?
- What do you have planned in the future?
Singapore native Aihui Ong, who came to the United States in 1999, was a successful financial software engineer at Accenture who gave it all up and went backpacking for a year after her divorce, which “gave me newfound freedom, but my heart was still heavy with bitterness,” says Ong, Founder and CEO of Love With Food.
Rather than feign happiness, she set off to find solace in a foreign land with only a backpack and a hunger for new experience. Along the way, her taste buds “rejoiced” with gelato in Italy, her adrenaline soared in Switzerland with sky diving, her spine tingled while exploring Dracula’s castle in Romania, and she was intoxicated by the aromas of spices in Istanbul.
“However, I also witnessed many who were living in poverty,” says Ong. “So many people had neither clean water nor food, and this hard truth stuck with me throughout my journey.”
Twenty countries and twelve months later, and after some “burnout,” she returned to America jobless and bored, but wanted something new, only to discover a close friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Overcome with emotion, and struggling to come up with the right words, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “I’ll cook for you, because I only know how to show love with food.”
Caring for her friend, who today is happy and living life to the fullest, changed Ong’s life forever. “She helped me find the happiness that I spent so many miles and months seeking,” says Ong. It was another friend who started an all-natural stir-fry sauce business out of nothing but pure passion and her own savings that further renewed Ong’s purpose. Unfortunately, for her and many other food makers, gaining greater distribution wasn’t easy. After depleting her life savings, Ong’s friend had to shut down her operation. “Infuriated, I was motivated to help passionate food producers avoid this common fate, and reach their goals of successfully growing their food business,” says Ong.
Because the archaic food industry has not caught up with the present Internet age, Ong combined both of her biggest passions: food and technology. This is where Love With Food came into the arena in 2012. Ong started coding and creating a website to help food makers find alternative distribution and marketing channels and help consumers easily discover great gourmet food.
With the website as a platform to connect food producers with consumers, Ong realized that she could also use it as a means to help underprivileged children. For every box sold, Love With Food donates a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. “There are in fact more than 16 million children in America that are at risk of hunger. That’s more than 1 in 5 children that need a helping hand in order to thrive,” says Ong.
As for the future, Ong plans to continue disrupting the food world and its “old-fashioned way of selling food.” Through Love With Food, she also plans to continue fighting child hunger and donate more food. “To date, we have donated more than 320,000 meals,” says Ong. “That’s just the beginning.”