Yiran Qin is founder of Nummy, a mobile app that aims to disrupt the social and dating scene in London by table-sharing and creating a community for foodies. Nummy is still an early stage/pre-seed business.
Where did your business idea come from? Tell us about your start-up journey
My business Nummy is a social app that brings people together through food. In this day and age, everyone’s so focused on technology, that I wanted to create an online tool to bring people together offline and get them to actually sit around a table and dine together and create some meaningful relationships from that.
I moved to London four years ago and didn’t know anyone. Food has always been a big part of my life and all the friends that I’ve made here were through common food interests. I thought it would be a great idea for other people to meet in the same way if they’re new to the city.
After two years of working in London, I did my Masters in Business Management at Queen Mary University London. I went on their three day start up boot camp and was awarded a Build It grant. I just thought it was amazing that I could actually do something with my ideas.
What is your background? Is it an advantage or disadvantage to you as a tech founder?
I’ve always grown up in a white dominant environment in New Zealand, Switzerland and London.
From a young age we are told that it’s just going to be harder for us. I’ve accepted the fact that I just need to work extra hard to get what I want.
I have the advantage that I come from a family that helped me go to university and pursue a Masters. I know a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do that. But even though they support me financially and morally, my family don’t come from a tech background, so a lot of things I’ve just had to figure out for myself.
A disadvantage is not having an EU passport. I wasn’t able to even start my business or register my company without a Tier 1 visa.
What challenges have you faced?
As a woman and a person of colour I get treated differently. It makes me a double minority at least in the tech start-up world. So I know my journey has definitely been harder.
One of my pet peeves in my entrepreneurial journey is I don’t get taken very seriously. I don’t know if I don’t look the part or if it’s because I’m a woman. I remember I was speaking to a mentor in one of my incubator programs and they told me that if I’m so passionate about people and food, I should just start my own blog instead of creating a start-up. And the word he used was I was being ‘dramatic’. It was a bit of a shock to me. He didn’t ask me about my business. He didn’t ask me about my background. He just basically judged me on my appearance, and I think that’s been a common trend.
Have you had moments when you realize the business will be successful?
With Nummy I have been successful in creating restaurant partnerships with an app that hadn’t even launched. That’s a really good indication that people actually believe in the idea and are willing to work with me. I remember on the Tier 1 visa interview panel, they told me that they believe in my idea, but mostly they believed in me and what I’m able to do. So that was really awesome.
I also got to go to 10 Downing Street to speak with the PM’s business advisors about BAME entrepreneurs and the issues that we’re facing and how the government could help us.
How is Nummy navigating covid-19?
As restaurants are currently closed and trying to navigate their own path during the current situation, Nummy has also been compelled to adapt our business. Being an early-stage start-up, it has affected our partnerships and business model as we are no longer able to continue the momentum and traction as normal. But this has also presented an opportunity to readjust and adapt. Nummy is currently exploring different ways to continue providing food experiences for our community by hosting events online as well as fast-forward our position as a business that is not only table-sharing but truly a platform to bring people together through food despite circumstances.
How has OneTech supported you?
One of the main OneTech benefits was to meet my mentor. He’s been really great, as moral support, but also to give me amazing advice on marketing and expert knowledge. He has been there for me, just to talk about my day and what’s going on.
Other than that, the free work space for three months at We Work has been a huge help to be a part of a tech community. You don’t feel so lonely anymore. It’s much better than working at home.
I’m so happy to be in London because there is a growing recognition that it is harder for under represented founders and there are new programmes like OneTech to help us.
What is your advice to other underrepresented founders?
Don’t think it’s going to be an easy road. You just have to hustle and work hard. Focus on the positives and support instead the negatives and bad comments. Take them as constructive feedback and use it as something that will fuel your drive. Just never give up and keep going.
There are networks out there, support for people like us. You’re not alone. Reach out to other underrepresented founders and they’ll be 100% happy to talk to you or help you on your journey.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m definitely focused on building my company. Then, in the future, if everything goes well, I would like to work for or start my own VC firm that helps female and underrepresented founders. London is a really exciting place to be right now where there is a lot of opportunity for underrepresented founders. When I become successful, I would like to be a part of that change and help others like me.