Name: Natjawee Somsri
Course: BSc Economics
Gusto Nero is the first organic black rice pasta launched in the UK. With the promise of Paddies to Plate: An Organic Process, Gusto Nero brings you the best of Thailand's local produce. Our delicious pasta is made from premium quality Black Jasmine Rice, organically grown and harvested by happy farmers. We have worked with a local manufacturer to discover the secrets to making the best pasta from Black Jasmine Rice, rich in flavours and brimming with that chewy goodness!
How did UEA Student Enterprise help you?
I originally applied for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa in June 2014 with another idea I had. Unfortunately this was rejected and I had to go back to the drawing board. Over this time I have engaged with the service to take advantage of ongoing business coaching as well as attending workshops. Not only did it help me boost my confidence they also helped me lots by introducing me to a variety of business contacts.
What worries did you have while setting up your business, and how did you overcome them?
My biggest initial fear was being able to create a product that met enough different unique user preferences in the food market such as vegan or gluten-free. To overcome this I really had to get to better know and understand this customer segments so I could ensure my product met their needs. As a result we have had a lot of support and interest coming from these communities.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business rather than look for work from someone else?
I worked for a number of companies, whilst studying and after graduation, in different fields, such as retail, photography, fashion and consulting. It was at this time when I realized I would like to do my own thing and began to work on my initial idea.
During this time I also experienced some personal health problems and had to improve my own diet. This led me to exploring how different foods affect your body and more specifically the benefits of organic produce, not just for the body but for people and planet.
Despite being rejected for two previous applications for the Tier 1 Visa I was determined to make a success of it. I left my job overnight and went back home to Thailand to research into Black rice. With a lot of hardwork and some support my applications was successful and I have now been here in the UK for the last year launching the product.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Creativity, analytical thinking and patience.
What motivates you?
The fact that by going organic my business is doing something that is good for all living things.
How do you define success?
I just want to play a little part in making this planet better for any living creature.
Where did your funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? Was UEA part of this?
I personally invested all my life savings and was helped hugely by my mum – can’t thank you enough mum.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When a customer says my pasta just make his/her day!
What piece of advice would you give to university students who want to become entrepreneurs?
It is all about hard work...and testing your idea out on the real world. If you don’t take action nothing will happen. But be prepared to be patient as nothing comes quickly or easily.