Graduate turned entrepreneur Elena Sin lives by the axiom that success is no accident, preferring to create opportunity rather than wait for it to happen.
Elena Sin’s startup FOODHER is now across four states, has more than 100 chefs on board and has provided restaurant-quality meals for more than 2000 customers in the comfort of their own homes.
After a year, the entrepreneur acknowledges that times are tough right now, with the fledgling business being hit hard.
However, she says that there is nothing more meaningful than people who go out of their way and through what they do enrich the lives of others. ‘ That’s who we are in the hospitality industry, and with people alongside me who embrace this concept I have no doubt we’ll come through’, she says.
Elena joined ICHM in the July intake of 2005. Her first placement was at The Sebel on Collins in Melbourne as a Food and Beverage Attendant, her second was at the Shangri-La Cairns as Guest Service Agent and her third was in San Diego, California as a Corporate Management Trainee for Hyatt Hotels.
After her traineeship in the USA, she returned to ICHM to finish her bachelor’s degree and landed her first management job with Hyatt Regency Perth, as Conference and Event Services Manager.
‘It was during my time at Hyatt Regency Perth running the Event Services department that one of my clients from the WA Mining Club approached me and asked whether I would consider doing a similar role in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, in the mining and oil and gas industry.
‘I was not sure whether I could do it, but I took the opportunity anyway and figured I could learn along the way. And boy did I learn! The world of facilities management opened doors for me that that I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined, providing quality-of- life services to customers in some of the most remote areas of Australia.’
Elena went on to work for the top two of Fortune 500’s food and facilities management businesses worldwide; a life packed in a suitcase with 37 flights a year. ‘I thoroughly enjoyed my career and even made it to the C-suite. But a decade on I wanted to do more for the industry; an industry that I chose to embrace and will always be passionate about: hospitality.
Over the years, Elena had noticed a serious imbalance in the chef industry, where a disproportionate number of chefs worked long hours that rarely allowed them to use their creativity. ‘I knew I wanted to put power back into the hands of chefs, especially those with the skills, talent and meticulous eye for detail - often put on the backburner because of relentless hours and high stress-level environments - that make a meal something special.
‘When food is made with passion, you can taste it in every bite and I knew that we needed to find a way to take that taste and bring it into Australian homes. Thus, for the sake of great food and recognition, FOODHER was born: a double-sided online marketplace that connects passionate chefs with customers in their homes. Any professional chef or cook can upload their menus and customers can purchase direct rather than going through a restaurant or a caterer.
‘When I started the business almost a year ago, I didn’t have to convince investors or others about the merits of my idea. I just had to convince myself that this was the right thing for the chefs.
‘But as everyone who tries it knows, entrepreneurship can be a tough path, a long and gruelling one. It is littered with false starts and failures and it triggers a rollercoaster of emotions. And you have got to be able to keep going even when you don’t feel like it. But when it starts to blossom, it makes all the patience and hard work worthwhile.
‘We still have a long way to go but we are now across four states. We are only a small team of four dedicated people; but within the next five years we plan on seeing our platform extend across the globe. That would be the dream come true,’