Interview with Hannah Balthazar (28), business owner of Yohki
“You are what you eat”, according to the well-known proverbial saying. But since there were no healthful, earth-friendly culinary preparation kits on offer for those living in and around Brussels, Hannah thought outside the box…and put Yohki in a box – a box which contains healthy, tasty menus and ingredients that’s neatly delivered to your door.
About Hannah: she studied business administration at ICHEC, followed by an intensive job as a supply chain consultant and analyst in Brussels (and beyond). In 2020, at the age of 27, she decided to take the big leap and start her own business: Yohki.
Local & sustainable meal kits
Discover the story of Yohki
“Yohki delivers healthy, balanced and sustainable meal packages within Brussels and its surrounding area. We work as much as possible with local and seasonal products, to limit our ecological footprint. In collaboration with a certified dietitian, we thoughtfully put together the menus – with strong focus on the health aspect. Naturally, we also have a range of well-balanced, nutrient-rich vegetarian and vegan options.”
Are you alone at the helm of the company?
‘I have a business partner who lives in the US. In Brussels, I can count on a dietician and some interns.”
“Was the obvious choice: I was born and raised here. From a professional point of view, Brussels is an excellent base from which to build a network. And there is a clientele that’s open to our vision and values.
Also very interesting are the many government initiatives to support entrepreneurs, for example through programs, grants…. Also, people in the food industry here are bubbling with ideas, and are very open to sharing them with us. Nowadays in Brussels, there is a real ecosystem growing around sustainable food.”
Were your business plans not thwarted by COVID-19?
“The crisis was actually a catalyst for becoming permanently self-employed. In fact, this crisis offered a unique opportunity to position ourselves in the market. Simply because there was a sudden sharp increase in demand for home-delivered meals. In terms of healthy meals and ingredients, there was a gap in the market.”
What were the biggest hurdles in getting started?
“The financial aspect. On the one hand, you need sufficient start-up capital. But on the other hand, there is also the personal aspect, because you need to be able to fall back on a certain financial autonomy in order to focus 100% on the start-up of the company.”
Where were the opportunities, in your experience?
“The support and guidance for start-ups in Brussels is very broad and diverse. Last year, for example, I took part in a hackathon organised by hub.brussels. I was also able to participate in the greenlab trajectory for starters with a sustainable business plan. Greenlab gave me a lot of knowledge and tools to get myself started. It also opened doors to a network of people who share common values, which ensures for a buoyant, dynamic vibe – even if everyone is focusing on their own project. A very motivating dynamic, especially if you’re just starting your own business!”
Is there an age limit on starting a business?
“I don’t think so. First and foremost, you need to gain a good understanding of the target audience and the market you want to enter. This can sometimes take a few years after graduation. But in my opinion, it really comes down to your personal attitude, your experience, maturity and the opportunities you find. For me, it’s not so much about age, but rather a unique moment that presents itself – one that is simply ideal to start your own business. No matter when this moment comes, you have to jump on it!”
“I have the impression that there is no typical ‘profile’ that makes you a good entrepreneur. At least, I haven’t met that person yet. I just think you have to be good at self-assessment, and set clear goals. On this basis, you can define your workable framework that’s aligned with your wants and needs”.
3 entrepreneurial tips from Hannah:
- 1) Strongly believe in your project, , but keep both feet firmly on the ground.
- 2) Take necessary risks, , but be aware of all possible consequences.
- 3) Trust yourself, , but don’t hesitate to call on the help of others (especially if they offer it).
Like Hannah, do you want to start your own business? Discover our extensive services for start-up entrepreneurs:
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Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to embark on a promising industrial project? Participate in the greenlab.brussels rebootcamp from October 2 to 4, 2020!
Do you want to open your own restaurant? Come test your culinary concept for less and with less risk at Kokotte, our hospitality incubator.