eat2explore (www.eat2explore.com), Founder, Rowena Scherer
Business Name and What it Does
eat2explore is an award-winning educational food & culture “explorer box” that inspires families to cook, taste and discover different world’s cuisines and cultures. New country and regional boxes will debut this year including Jamaica and Thailand. Kids and families can try different foods from around the world like arroz con pollo or beef shawarma with eat2explore’s subscription box service. eat2explore brings the food of different countries (22 countries/regions like Italy, Kenya, Peru, etc.) straight to your kitchen table. It provides tools for families to cook together, learn and dine on different cuisines and cultures. Once kids are done exploring the country, they’ll love that they can track their “travels” with a sticker on their eat2explore passport and collect country flag pins. The boxes can be purchased one box at a time, or through a monthly subscription. eat2explore provides three easy-to-follow-recipes and a shopping list to purchase proteins and vegetables of your choice, as well as including hard-to-find spices and sauces.
eat2explore’s boxes allow kids and families to cook, learn, and dine on different cuisines and cultures. It is a fun way to explore the 3Cs – country, culture and cuisine – in your own kitchen! There are no perishable ingredients in the box, so you can cook whenever you have the time (no stress over fresh ingredients going bad). Their non-perishable spices and sauces also allow you to try different cuisines without investing in big bottles of spices /sauces that might go to waste. Adults and children may be intimidated by something they are not familiar with. eat2explore really makes everything so easy, so that you can try vegetarian tagine, Tibs Wot or even lamb burgers for the first time! Kids can even try more familiar dishes like BBQ chicken, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs. Kids will also be learning important life skills like grocery shopping, chopping meat, vegetables and tofu, while learning about measuring ingredients, the cooking process and enjoying a delicious meal together!
eat2explore offers educational materials for families to learn about the country and its culture or celebrations as well as an activity sheet for kids to learn word puzzles, math, geography, etc. All of this is presented in a fun way to encourage healthy eating and spending time together. Available at www.eat2explore.com and Amazon.
Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business
Rowena Scherer founded eat2explore to teach her kids and kids around the world about different cuisines and countries while having fun. Rowena is a busy working mom in New York City who grew up cooking with her family in Malaysia. As her kids were growing up, she forgot the joy of taking a break and cooking with her family. She created eat2explore for families and friends to have an opportunity to create lasting memories at home.
Rowena is a legal immigrant from Malaysia who believes that the US provides an amazing platform for entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks and work hard. She started eat2explore for her children and other busy families. In 2016, she realized during a family cooking class, that her kids love to travel and try different cuisines, but they couldn’t chop an onion. Rowena started eat2explore in 2018 after a career in finance. She was happy to prove that it is never too late to pursue your love and passion. She vowed to build a company before she turned 50, and when she quit her finance career to focus full-time on eat2explore she was 48. Rowena combined her passion for food, travel and children and created eat2explore. She has an undergraduate degree in finance and psychology (double degree – Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Art) from Victoria University in New Zealand and an Executive MBA from New York University Stern (both with full scholarships). She also has a culinary degree from French Culinary Institute in NY.
Rowena grew up cooking with her family back in Malaysia and those are some of her fondest memories. When she started a family of my own as a working mom, she found herself constantly juggling her kids’ busy schedules and getting dinner on the table after a full day’s work. She had forgotten the joy of taking a break and having fun cooking together as a family. Rowena realized that there must be many more out there just like her – families who are craving this opportunity to create lasting memories all without leaving the home. Mealtime should be an experience and cooking is a life-skill everyone should have! In addition, food and culture are interrelated – kids should learn that every country has their own unique culture and cuisines.
The challenges the business/market is facing
At eat2explore, we are constantly striving to build brand awareness and stand out from other kids’ activity and cooking subscription boxes out there. We work with a great team, and we find it is very important to work with the right people from packaging, manufacturing, public relations and marketing. It is important to stay ahead of trends and offer our customers the best experience available. In the last two years we learned how to be flexible and change with the times. We provided opportunities and experiences for families who were spending more time at home and unable to travel. We continued to offer this as the world opened back up in 2022. eat2explore recently increased the price of our boxes and subscription services to keep up with the current economy. We had not altered pricing since our inception in 2018. The updated pricing allowed us to better service our customers with the best customer service and the best educational experiences in the kitchen.
We are always looking for new ways to convert brand awareness to sales, as well as cash management and fundraising. We want to continue to deliver the best and consistent products to customers as the company grows and add new countries to our mix year over year.
The opportunities the business/market is facing
We are always looking to expand our availability in other countries, and we will start selling in the United Kingdom in the 4th quarter this year. We really want to bring eat2explore to everyone around the world. It is such an important experience to teach people about diversity, and different cultures and cuisines around the world. As parents and teachers, we can do our part to celebrate our diverse cultures, as well as embrace the things we have in common. What is more fun than doing this through food? Maybe you can’t hop on a plane to Japan, but eat2explore can treat you to three unique recipes with authentic spices and sauces that will take you to a noodle shop in Tokyo. Kids and families will also receive a history lesson about each country and a few fun facts to share with their friends. Kids will also get a country-specific tool (chopsticks for Japan), collectables, shopping list and meaningful time spent with family and friends.
Looking ahead we would like to continue to collaborate with Tourism Boards from different countries to cross promote the countries that eat2explore offers, and work with local country’s spice/condiment suppliers for better pricing and authentic ingredients to give our customers a truly authentic experience.
We recently worked hand-in-hand with the Jamaica Tourism Board to provide recipes from Chef Andre Fowles–a Jamaican born chef in New York City, a three-time Food Network “Chopped” champion and he was recognized by Star Chef New York. We want to provide more of these authentic experiences for our customers and continue to grow!
We hope to encourage our customers to travel to these near and far destinations, as well as spend time together and create fun bonding moments.
We plan to expand in grocery stores across the U.S., so that our customers can find our products locally and easily, and get everything they need while they are already at the grocery store.
Advice to others about business
I would recommend that all new business owners try all selling platforms that are available out there. What works for someone else, may not work for you. Be flexible along the way. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to tweak your product or idea. Continue to learn and listen to your customers. They are your biggest supporters and will be the first on the lines to recommend your product or services to other potential customers. Be the reason someone smiles that day… one bump along the road (negative experience) can turn people away, so always be open to a conversation, and see how you can make things right. Sometimes people just want to be sure their message is heard, and you can be that sounding board for them. They will notice this and tell their friends.
Don’t wait to launch! If you have a good idea, do whatever you can to scale the business. Don’t wait! As the great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Appreciate and encourage feedback from customers. We’ve rolled with the punches along the way, and tweaked recipes, spices and sauces along the way to get everything just right, and we’re still learning!
Always remember to have fun along the way.