Young Chang Of A-Sha Foods USA: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder

Charlie Katz
Authority Magazine
Published in
7 min readDec 28, 2021

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No only means maybe, things change so fast in our industry that a no today can quickly turn into a yes tomorrow. Nothing is impossible and don’t give up.

As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Young Chang.

Young Chang is a 18 year veteran of working in Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., and IBM. With a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Computer Science, and Masters in Business Administration from USC’s Marshall School of Business, he decided to make a total career change and become a founder of a food manufacturing and distribution company. Having thrived in the business for the past 6 years, the focus remains to change the world and make a lasting impact on humankind through food.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was happily working my corporate job at Warner Bros studio in Burbank, CA, and I started to realize day after day that I wasn’t the best at what I did. The thing I was very good at was communicating, and relating to people and issues. At that time, I started thinking about making a career change into a different direction, but I didn’t have the confidence to make the switch cold turkey. After talking to several mentors and family members, the decision was made to leave the security and comforts of a Big Company and take the leap to venture on my own. That big leap is oftentimes the scariest decision of a person’s career, but it seems almost all successful people have had that moment, when a decision was made that changed everything. I’ve always had the belief that I could be successful at anything I chose to do, but my objective was to do that thing in the shortest time possible. Leveraging my experience and the experience of others, I was able to shorten that time and have never looked back since.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The scariest moment in this journey was logging into our bank account and realizing that I had burned through $1mil USD in capital that we had to start this business. That is a scary moment when you realize that this is a very tough and real business. How money is spent and allocated is very important, and making sure to spend money efficiently and smartly.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

A support system is very important, and also making sure you surround yourself with people that have your best interests at heart. Having my mentors, that include past EVP/SVPs at previous work, college professors, and college classmates, and most importantly my main partner who is also my brother in law, really support and provide advice, guidance, and trust is worth more than anything, and it gives me hope to keep pushing through tough times. My parents taught me hard work, and I’ve never thought I was the smartest or quickest person in the room, but I always knew that I could outwork anyone on any day.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Things today have changed drastically from where we started. Now 6 years in, having a legit viable business, we are able to really compete in the tough food industry. This is an unforgiving business, and seeing all the new upstarts that are emerging, reminds us that the task is never done. The business continues to evolve and we too must evolve with it. Staying true to who we are as a company and what we stand for will ultimately keep us going, but how we react to continuing changes and challenges in the environment will determine our future success.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

All mistakes are learning experiences, and mistakes constantly happen, even today. That just means that we can learn something new everyday. Making mistakes isn’t always a bad thing, but repeating the same mistakes is not something that we can accept. The funny story that comes to mind is when we received our first order from Walmart in which our carton configuration was different from what the customer wanted. I didn’t really have the experience to know what that actually meant, and that order ended up taking us 5 days to complete with 8 full time workers. We very much underestimated the effort it takes to fulfill for a large retailer.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes A-Sha Foods stand out is the way we think and operate. As both partners in the business were not in the food industry before, we felt this was our greatest advantage — that nothing we did would be considered conventional, since the way we walked and talked and operated our business were from points of view in entertainment, tech, real estate, and branding and marketing. We were never able to think outside of the box as we were never in the box to begin with.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I love my job. My job is my hobby. It is my life. I work 80–85 hours per week on this business and the enthusiasm has never wavered. As cheesy as the saying goes, doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life. I recommend colleagues always know what the ultimate end game is for success, and to know how that success is measured. If a person continues moving in that direction, then they are doing the right thing. Life is a gift, and taking advantage of every moment makes anything you do worthwhile.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My aforementioned brother in law Henry Liao, the Chairman of Breeze Group in Taiwan, is my #1 supporter and business partner. He is truly the wizard behind the curtain, and makes the entire machine run. Under his guidance he has imparted all his knowledge to me, and we have been able to blend that knowledge with my work experiences and growing up in the states, to form our Executive super team. Mr. Liao was the one that insisted I quit my day job and join him in this business. The story began the day he convinced me to quit my Corporate Job.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We definitely can do more along these lines, as the world is always in the constant need for more goodness. Every year for the holidays, A-Sha Foods makes a bunch of donations to needy organizations and families around the USA (World Harvest Food Bank, Asian Youth Center, Feeding South Florida, etc). Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat NBA team, whom we’ve had a long relationship with, often participates along with A-Sha to donate food to hungry folks in the community.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. No only means maybe, things change so fast in our industry that a no today can quickly turn into a yes tomorrow. Nothing is impossible and don’t give up.
  2. Work smart, not hard. There are so many resources and technologies available now at our fingertips. To not take advantage of the data and technology available is a shame.
  3. Be humble, be confident. True confidence comes from knowledge and preparation. Being the smartest person in the room usually is a result of doing the most preparation and putting in the extra work. Staying humble and having quiet confidence allows you to be knowledgeable and endearing at the same time.
  4. Lead by example. People can see through disingenuous people right away, and when someone is talking but not really knowing. Do something to show others that you can do just as you say and that true leaders walk the talk.
  5. I’ve always heard the saying that the only guarantees in life were death and taxes, but I sure wish I had a better understanding of what the taxes part meant when I started my business. Certain moves and considerations would have been made as a result.

Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

Mental and physical health is very important. In our high stress jobs, having an outlet is very important to maintain sanity. I love hot yoga and spinning to maintain my health. Having that one hour block of time to myself and being able to just zone out, helps me to feel refreshed and ready to attack issues again. No health, no wealth.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

World hunger is such a big issue, and I and A-Sha Foods would love to be part of this solution. While I can’t think of an immediate solution for this problem, I believe this answer lies somewhere in the regulations of CPG foods. The best before date on packaging is such a deterrent and something that adds value but actually hinders the ability to salvage food that is perfectly fine to eat. I would like to start a movement to start labeling food that is technically past the best before date, but is ok to eat beyond, and that food can be sent to those in need. Consolidating all this food that is safe to eat but not able to sell can go a long way in feeding hungry people and reducing waste in our environment.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website URL: www.ashadrynoodle.com

Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ashadrynoodles/

IG URL: https://www.instagram.com/ashadrynoodle/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Charlie Katz
Authority Magazine

Executive Creative Director at Bitbean Software Development