Sylvia Tam is the founder of Beviva, a brand dedicated to providing tasty and delicious plant-based, TSA-friendly, on-the-go foods. She spoke to us about her advice for those looking to start a business, how her struggles inspired her products, and how COVID-19 has expanded their product line.
- What inspired you to start your brand?
“I was inspired to create Beviva because of my own experience traveling on-the-go with the condition IBD, a digestive disease that made it very difficult to find foods that I could eat. So, I created a solution to be able to travel through TSA. You can bring your own plant-based milk and gluten-free cereal so you can eat it whenever you need it!”
- What is your favorite recipe using Beviva products?
“My favorite recipe is actually the easiest – just taking one of our cereal cups and slicing up some banana, strawberries, or blueberries, and eating a full-on cereal on-the-go. Statistics show that the majority of us love cereal but we only eat it at the kitchen table. I wanted to change that so that we can enjoy it whether you’re at the top of the mountain or traveling in a train station. Anywhere, you can enjoy it!”
- What is the most rewarding part of running a small business?
“Meeting and working with so many amazing mom-preneurs in the community along the journey, because it is a long journey! Having so many people that understand you and be able to come up with different ways of doing things, balancing family life, and even collaborating and doing things together towards the same mission of healthy living. I would say that now is an amazing time to start a business, especially if you think it isn’t the right time, it is the right time!”
- Tell us what makes the purple sweet potato so special!
“Have you tried purple sweet potatoes? Well if you ever do, or already have a love for it, you’ll know why! Purple sweet potatoes have their brilliant color because it contains a bio-active compound called anthocyanin. It’s actually really beneficial for us in terms of anti-inflammatory benefits and helps with preventing cancer cells from spreading. It has a lot of vitamins and minerals that are great for our eyes. It’s better than your typical sweet potatoes and, to be honest, it’s the gorgeous color that really gets me! The color itself is really what we’re striving for to add that rainbow nutrition into our snacks. So, because it’s not easy to eat plant-based foods easily, we make it into chips, granolas, cereals, and even milk so you can add it to your smoothie!”
- What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a business in the CPG space? Or challenges nobody talks about?
“If you have a great idea and want to start building, my best advice is to start building your community today. Don’t wait! Tell people, tell the world what you want and what you’re thinking of. By the time you actually have your beta product out and you have samples to try, your community will be waiting for it. So, always start with a “don’t worry, don’t wait, just go for it” mentality and share what you believe in, your purpose, your mission, and your passions. Put those into the community! Start a page and tell people before you actually come out with your product. You might save a lot of time by getting lots of feedback and suggestions and have them help you build this ideal product.”
- What are some lessons you’ve learned from starting a business from the ground up?
“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned from starting from the ground up is to think of it as a game and set everything up early in the beginning, so that way it becomes more efficient. Once you get busy, it’s difficult to slow down and even this year with COVID-19, I found that it was an opportunity for me to slow down and step back to actually step up. When you start from the ground up. it’s easy to not know where to start, but start with your strengths. If your strength is in content writing, photography, marketing, whatever it might be, focus on that area. All the other areas that you’re not in love with, find help and get someone to help you put something together. I think this is the ultimate solution when you start from the ground up.”
- What are the biggest challenges you faced during COVID?
“Even though Beviva is focused on helping everyone snack while on-the-go, we had to pivot during COVID-19 and talk to our customers. After we spoke to them, we were able to come up with some new products tailored towards people working at home or families. So rather than small pouches, we came up with these larger size granolas that could be used as a snacker, a topping, a cereal, anything they can think of. Another thing we came up with was the milk powder because customers were asking to put the milk that we had in our cup into their smoothie bowls. We thought that was really exciting. It’s important to keep in touch with your customers so that you know what they are asking for as well as attending some online festivals that have bonded many brands with us. That has been one of the biggest ways we got out of the COVID-19 challenge of not being able to attend trade shows live in person.”
- What is your vision for Beviva in the future?
“My vision for Beviva is to have a destination experience for anyone who believes in the same thing – to be able to have children raised in our family that are very attentive to our gut health. Ideally, we want to balance our three brains: our head brain, our heart brain, and our gut brain. It all starts from our gut, and if we are able to take care of it and get a habit of eating well, then we’re able to make use of our creativity as well as have more time for mindfulness. So, I want to create Beviva into a location where people can come to tap into those three brains, either through food, through education, and through live events and experiences. I hope that you will be able to experience my Beviva journey with me together!”
Want to hear more from Sylvia? Find her at www.beviva.com and on Instagram @bevivafoods.