Tokyo Snack Box, “boxes” that take you on a journey to Japan
Live from Japan, overwhelmed by the boxes of orders in his apartment, Baptiste DELANNOY, 2019 IÉSEG graduate, tells us about his entrepreneurial adventure: Tokyo Snack Box.
When was Tokyo Snack Box born and what is the concept?
It all started in September 2020. Based in Tokyo for a few years and not being able to go back to France to visit my family because of the Covid-19 epidemic, I decided to send them a box full of delicious sweet and salty snacks that can only be found in Japan. After witnessing their enthusiasm upon reception of the box, I wanted to spread these moments of pleasure to as many people as possible around me. Moreover, I had this desire to accomplish something in 2020, so I decided to seize the opportunity and launch my own business, after studying the market. On the French market, I found only one similar company, so my goal is to become the national number 2.
Why did you choose this name?
I wanted a simple name which you allow for identifying clearly and easily my product. I wanted people to understand immediately what it is all about when they hear the name. In France, the “box” culture is very strong, it is a popular type of gift that sells very well.
How did you take advantage of the health crisis to launch your business?
I would say that there are two factors. First of all, Japan and the Japanese culture attract more and more people, especially French people. For example, France is the second major consumer of mangas in the world. Secondly, to travel to Japan, you need an important budget and quite a bit of time, therefore, this is not possible for everyone.
Wasn’t it too complicated to get started in Japan?
Thanks to my working visa, I was able to register as an auto-entrepreneur in Japan without too many difficulties. Having a work visa, I was able to register as an auto-entrepreneur in Japan without too many difficulties. However, this country is not yet very inclined towards start-ups, unlike France. There is less help, starting up is more complex and expensive. In the future, I hope to recruit people to help me grow my business faster. Not to mention that I also work full time at Adidas. Combining these two activities takes a lot of time, even if working from home allows me to have a little more flexibility in the organization of my working time and specially to gain a few more hours of sleep in the morning to be able to work in the evening on the preparation of my orders.
What have been your main difficulties and what are your future challenges?
I fight with the Japanese Post every day (laughs), sometimes there are lost packages, problems with customs… but these are the ups and downs of international business. The time difference is also a daily challenge because people start ordering when I go to bed, so I have to be on the lookout almost 24/7. When you’re starting out, every customer counts. I can’t afford to let anything go by, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. If I make a mistake, I have to move heaven and earth to make up for it and make sure the customer is satisfied. But it pays off because I have a high retention rate. I get around 400 orders a month and I had a 40% increase in orders for the holiday season. My annual turnover is now around €150,000.
My main challenge for the coming months is to develop my brand awareness. I’m starting from scratch and I don’t have the finances to pay big influencers or to do advertising campaigns. So, I rely mainly on digital marketing and word-of-mouth.
How did your courses at IÉSEG help you to launch your company?
I learned a lot from the marketing program. Studying at IÉSEG gave me the unique opportunity to go to Japan twice as an exchange student during my studies. Not all schools allow to go abroad twice. Moreover, when you study at IÉSEG, you are surrounded by the world of entrepreneurship, and that helps a lot when you want to start your own business.
How do you see your start-up evolving in the years to come?
I would like the borders to open up again quickly so that I can have my brother, who is also a student at IÉSEG, come and work with me. I would love it if he could do his internship at Tokyo Snack Box, so he could have a perfect first experience as a marketing manager. I would also like to be able to hire so that I can focus more on the strategic aspects of my business, and spend less time managing and preparing orders.
Do you have any advice for a future entrepreneur?
You have to know what advantage you have over the others, your point of difference, and take advantage of it quickly. Then, as soon as the market study is well done, you should not spend too much time on the business plan: you have to launch quickly, timing is important.
Tokyo Snack Box offers a 5% discount on all orders with the coupon code: IESEG
Visit the website: https://www.tokyosnackbox.com/en