976
10 min 3 sec

Mochi-Making Empire Produces Profits and Delight

Drawing on her Japanese heritage, a Bay Area teacher offers mochi classes using Airbnb Experiences.
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What It's About

An English teacher cooks up delectable Airbnb Experiences!

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Mochi-Making & Teaching
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Part of what I love about this episode is that we've not really focused on Airbnb Experiences before. Lots of people have great ideas for activities, tours, or classes—but don’t have a way to connect with enough customers. This is one of the biggest benefits of partnering with Airbnb or Verlocal!

Interested in starting an Airbnb Experience of your own? Head here to sign up!

Fun Fact

According to the Japan Kagami Mochi Association, mochi is thought to contain the pure spirit of rice and thus be possessed with "Toshigami," a deity that is said to visit during the New Year's period, bringing a good harvest and the blessing of ancestors.

Notes from Chris

Episode 976

Growing up, Kaori was surrounded by Japanese cooking. Her mother is Japanese, and her grandmother owned a ramen shop in Japan. Kaori dove deep into these roots and became skilled at making ramen from scratch.

While in college studying to be an English teacher, Kaori started teaching her mad ramen skills at a local cooking school. Soon, she expanded to offer other forms of Asian cuisine. SHE LOVED IT! Even though she wasn’t formally trained, she had a knack for communicating culinary concepts, and her classes were popular. What she learned for her education degree ended up being helpful for her time in cooking classes—so she eventually left her high school teaching career to focus on them.

Here’s where the mochi comes in. Kaori moved to the Bay Area and formally started her business, which she called Kaori's Kitchen. She knew her credibility came from her heritage as a “hapa” or half Japanese woman. Her mom had been making mochi for local festivals for many years and taught Kaori. Mochi is from Japan and is made to celebrate the new year. It’s so iconic to Japanese New Year that mochi is likened to the Christmas tree or Star of David in terms of symbolism.

With the success of her ramen classes in mind, Kaori developed a Mochi Making Class. Mochi ice cream was gaining popularity among ice cream lovers, but there wasn’t anyone in the Bay Area teaching it. In her class, Kaori, sometimes along with her mom, teaches how to make mochi five different ways. The class begins with mochi in a traditional soup. Participants then learn to make sweet mochi three ways with many topping options. To finish, everyone gets to fry and glaze a mochi donut.

But of course, she needed a way to get people to her classes. She first found a platform called Verlocal. Verlocal is a booking platform for experiences, such as cooking, hiking, and painting. Kaori focused on team building classes. Word soon got out that her mochi classes were amazing. She started to receive direct booking emails from companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Kaori’s Kitchen was taking off!

Within two months, the Saturday mochi classes she offered there were full … and have been ever since. In the beginning, Kaori charged a lowly $35 per person. Experience, reputation, and over 200 positive reviews allowed Kaori to increase her price to $75 per person. Currently, her classes are booked through Airbnb Experiences, Verlocal, and her own website, KaorisKitchen.com.

The business is bringing in a bit more than $90,000 a year in revenue. $24,000 comes in from Airbnb Experiences, making it a key partner. Kaori estimates each class has an average 75% profit margin because her costs are low. She runs most of them out of her home kitchen or she travels to the business hosting a team-building event. Plus, the ingredients are reasonable as the main ingredient in mochi is rice.

She’s now writing a book about starting an experience-based side hustle. She believes everyone is passionate about something, so why not make money doing what you love? A lot of millenials (and others) put a higher value on experiences than things, so the market is ready for experienced-based businesses. Kaori intends to self publish her book this November on Amazon. In addition, a publisher asked her to write a mochi cookbook. That’s in the works and should come out in 2020.

By focusing on her core expertise, and connecting with the right platforms that reach active travelers, she’s building security while sharing her knowledge.



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Kaori's Kitchen: See what's cooking over on Kaori's website!
  • Weebly: The platform that Kaori used to create her website for Kaori's Kitchen

  • Airbnb & Verlocal: The two platfroms that Kaori used to list her mochi and ramen making classes

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Many people crave 'the side hustle life'. They want to make money doing what they love and not have to work all of the time. They want flexibility and joy in what they do, and I believe that Airbnb Experiences and the experience industry allows you to do that.​"
—Kaori Becker #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau