Wanicha (Bo) Watanawanichkorn, Banh Mi Bo
Used to eating Vietnamese food while studying in Australia, Bo was disappointed not to find any good Vietnamese sandwiches – Banh Mi – when she came back to Thailand with her Vietnamese-Australian partner. Realizing that she was not only the one and that there was a real market demand for Banh Mi, Bo and her partner jumped on the opportunity to introduce the authentic baguettes to Bangkok and set up Banh Mi Bo.
Our goal was to offer fresh food in a laid-back, relaxed type of setting. “Good food doesn’t have to be pricey or come in an upmarket restaurant.”
“Good food doesn’t have to be pricey or come in an upmarket restaurant”
“The key to a good Banh Mi is the bread”, says Bo. Not satisfied with the bread options in Bangkok, they decided to make their own.
“It took us about 6 months to get the bread recipe right. We tried and tried until it tasted just perfect. Once we figured out the bread, we learned how to do the filling.” How they make their delicious crunchy baguettes is a now a secret receipt and one of their key strengths as they plan to expand locally and internationally.
Open for just over a year, Banh Mi Bo initially operated as a food truck on quiet Sukhumvit soi 47 before moving to its new location on bustling soi 33/1 at the end of 2015. Customers have now the option to pick up their sandwiches themselves and enjoy a friendly chat with the owners, or call or order online to have their Banh Mi delivered.
With no experience in the food industry, Bo and her partner had to learn everything from scratch – how to manage operations, deal with contractors, and how to become more assertive. “When we started, I used to trust everybody and I wasn’t firm and assertive enough. I was too flexible with suppliers and too scared to demand things the way I wanted.”
Banh Mi Bo’s main challenge is now to get Thais to try the Vietnamese sandwiches. While they have built a good following of loyal Banh Mi-lovers, most of them are foreigners. Bo is set on changing this. “Many Thais don’t like bread and they don’t see it as the main meal. But I also think that many simply don’t know about our Banh Mi yet. We were recently featured on Channel 9 and after that we got lots of phone calls and inquiries. We want to introduce Banh Mi to Thais because we are convinced that they would love it.”
When in need of advice, Bo turns to her parents, business owners themselves. “They want to see us succeed and they encouraged us to keep going and give it our very best.”
This is also the advice that she would give to other new business owners: “Stick around, don’t give up too fast. You need to set milestones but you also need to be flexible because it’s not always going to turn out the way you had planned. Figure out why it didn’t go that way and move on. Make sure you always try your best to get wherever you want to be.”
“Stick around, don’t give up too fast. Make sure you always try your best to get to wherever you want to be.”
Company: Banh Mi Bo
No of Employees: 5