Shanghai is a city of entrepreneurship. In our series, 'Shanghai Entrepreneurs,' we talk to people from different backgrounds and businesses about their motivations, experiences and what they have learned along the way.
Lauren Himle has put her obsession with fitness and health into good use by starting up her own healthy food business, as well as working for a personal training app. A positive and highly motivated individual, Himle has high hopes for her newly launched company. After three years of working in Shanghai, here she tells us her tips to succeed and stay in the game.
Tell us about your two companies and how they are involved with
By day I work for a startup called WeBox, a CSP venture (the guys that bring you Brawl on the Bund). It is a location-based app that provides personal training on demand (think Sherpas, but for fitness). By night I, along with my friend and business partner Jackie, run our startup Nomad Trading Co, a company that provides healthy food for people on the move. The two complement each other beautifully, largely due to the fact that they both have the same goal of making it easier for people to live healthy.
Why did you choose Shanghai?
When I was 15, I came to China for a summer study abroad program, where I had my first taste of total freedom and self-reliance. I found calmness in the chaos of this city and became addicted to its vibrancy. I made an effort to come back almost once a year until I graduated college, at which point I took a job that had me constantly traveling between Asia and America. I have now been here for about three years and don’t plan on leaving anytime soon.
What was your motivation and inspiration for starting your businesses?
I grew up with a mother who is an excellent cook and can out-lift most men. She definitely rubbed off on me and as such, I have always been a fitness fanatic who is comfortable in the kitchen. Throughout college and the early stages of my career I found it hard to find food that was healthy but also easy to eat on the go. I began spending Sundays in the kitchen testing out recipes (particularly for treats and snacks) that I could package and eat throughout the week. Soon I started cooking for my friends and realized I was on to something when they said they would pay for me to do their weekly meal prep.
What are the biggest challenges for setting up a business here?
The hardest part is maintaining focus. There is always so much going on every day of the week. You need to be ready to make sacrifices in many areas of your life – say goodbye to late nights out and hello to late nights in!
"Everyone is a little bit crazy but it takes eccentricity to thrive [in Shanghai]"
What is the one most important piece of advice you would give to
someone starting a new business here?
Take advantage of Shanghai’s entrepreneurial environment. You can afford to fail here and your failures will become the sturdy building blocks of your success. Don’t be afraid to talk about them either; lose your pride and gain a whole wealth of knowledge. The community in Shanghai is what makes it so great – everyone is a little bit crazy but it takes eccentricity to thrive here.
Who is your personal business idol?
Just as my mother is my inspiration, my father is my idol. Call me cliché but it’s the truth. When he was 25, my dad was already an elected state representative who risked everything to start his own business. He lived off ramen, didn’t take a paycheck and made hard sacrifices that came along with a life of entrepreneurship. Now nearly 40 years in the running, his firm is one of the most respected in its field.
What would you say your biggest success has been?
My resilience. In entrepreneurship, if you aren’t resilient you are shit outta luck.
Where do you see your company in five years?
In five years, I would like to see Nomad products in thousands of gyms across China and as a preferred nutrition partner for health conscious families, the career-focused and fitness enthusiasts alike. I want our brand to be synonymous with a healthy, balanced and enjoyable onthe-go lifestyle.
Wechat ID: Nomad Trading Co