breaking their pockets.
Young entrepreneur brothers Agustin and Esteban Lau first decided they needed to do something about overpriced kitchen knives when they moved to Seattle.
“We were moving into a new apartment and the first thing we needed for our kitchen were knives for cooking. But, we were just blown away by the marked up prices we saw for a good set of knives. It just seemed ridiculous to us—especially as recent grads with entry-level salaries,” said Esteban.
After seeing this gap in the market, Agustin and Esteban decided to design a kitchen knife that didn’t force consumers to choose between quality and affordability.
However, their start wasn’t smooth.
“We had no experience in manufacturing or marketing or anything,” Esteban continues, “We just knew we had to get scrappy and learn by doing—even if that meant making countless mistakes”.
It took them an entire year to create their product, so it’s not surprising to hear that there was a lot of trial-and-error involved. This included learning from their market research or realizing that certain designs had unexpected technical limitations.
The biggest challenge
When asked what was the most challenging part of bringing their product to life, Esteban says, “well, talking directly to the factories without involving any middlemen was definitely challenging. We didn’t want to involve too many parties to keep our costs low, so we had to become experts ourselves little by little. It was definitely painful, but looking back it was the best decision because we learned so much. No class or course will teach you like experience.”
Esteban also shared that learning about different steels, handle materials, and other technicalities was another learning curve that delayed the entire process.
The most important factor in business
“Community,” claims Esteban.
“Having that group of people supporting you and giving you constant feedback is invaluable. Not just from a business perspective, but from an emotional one. It pushes you to do more and gives you the confidence that people actually want what you’re creating. At the end of the day, they’re the end consumers, so that’s all that matters.”
The Mëren team has reached hundreds of potential customers and turned them into fans before even launching. It’s one of the reasons they’ve been able to test and iterate successfully, and, more importantly, get a good head start.
For new businesses out there, it’s crucial that they get their target market involved as early as possible. Those that don’t miss out on the opportunity to quickly validate their idea and build up a list of people ready to buy once their product is out.
The final result
Good kitchen knives can cost upwards of $350 but Mëren is able to offer their set for only $159 (or a single chef’s knife for $79). Ultimately, they hope that these prices will allow home cooks to cook more easily without spending a fortune.
Esteban says, “after doing the research, we can say that the profit that kitchen knife sellers make is crazy high. Everyone deserves to experience a smooth, effortless cut—not just the few willing to spend a fortune. We’re so excited to show these knives to the world because we know how much of a difference they can make for the home cook.”
Mëren is raising the standard of kitchen knives at home.
However, it’s clear it takes time, effort and setbacks to successfully bring a product to the market. For anyone trying to build their own business, there are so many obstacles to starting. But as long as one is willing to get dirty and listen to the market, there’s a good chance.