PEOPLE

JUN 19, 2015

An Interview with Model Turned Entrepreneurial Maven, Misa Chien

privy interview   |   By Privy Editor

 

 

Occupation: Entrepreneur, Former Model

Based in: San Francisco

Last Education: University of California, Los Angeles


It started with a bánh mì sandwich.

Like any good entrepreneur, Misa Chien, the former co-owner of Nom Nom Truck, which specializes in those pork and picked veggie baguette sandwiches, would frequently check online reviews for her business. But when Chien couldn’t match the feedback—positive or negative—to her employees, she wondered why anyone hadn’t designed a way for patrons to leave employee-specific reviews. So with the former model’s customary pluck, she did it herself.

Forget the suggestion box. In 2013, Chien Founded Fosubo, which is an “employee-centric feedback system,” where business owners can send customers the names and pictures of their employees to leave star-ratings and personalized reviews. The app, said Chien, not only improves a business’s customer service, but it can potentially save at-risk revenue, as business owners can intervene with service glitches before these impact earnings. Despite an over-saturated Customer Experience Management Market, Fosubo, which was brought to market in August 2014, is already working with over 1000 stores, and has been steadily gaining a reputation as a business owner’s new best friend.

 

Chien has been featured in Inc. Magazine's “30 Under 30” and TechCo’s “50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley.” It’s no surprise, as she has been a business owner since she was a sophomore at UCLA. At 19, she started her own jewelry business, Miss Misa, out of her dorm room, racking up big profits with her own designs of one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry. It was good practice for her food truck venture, which was a participant on Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” known for winning several consecutive weeks. Chien and business partner, Jennifer Green, started Nom Nom Truck with an investment of $25,000, and were able to top $1MM in sales two years later.

 

Chien, who’s half Chinese and half Dutch, was also a model, booking campaigns for brand name companies like Target, Abercrombie, and Skechers. She gave up the 8-year modeling career in 2014 to focus on Fosubo. The entrepreneur believes her modeling career has only made her a stronger businesswoman. Her confidence is clear as Chien talks about Fosubo, predicting that her company will fill a much-needed void in the customer service market.

 

 

1.

 

Tell us about Fosubo and how it came about?

 

I came up for the idea of Fosubo when running my previous business, Nom Nom Truck. At the time I was searching for a feedback system that could allow employees to receive feedback on their performance, and at the same time help them excel and grow in their careers. I found there was nothing out there like that; the feedback loop is broken. We want to change that. We are the future of feedback—working to improve customer service through employee empowerment. Fosubo is definitely my greatest success so far. I love knowing how much of an impact our platform has on employees—helping them excel in their careers and in turn offering better customer service.

 

2.

 

What advice would you give fellow ladies looking to start their own business?

 

Go for it, you will always have regrets unless you try and go all in!

 

3.

 

You started modeling when you were 20. How did you get into the industry, and how did you navigate a business where there are as many legitimate agencies as dishonest ones?

 

 

I was studying abroad in Paris my junior year and decided to start modeling on the side. When I got back, I actually modeled for the Bruin UCLA catalog and after that I decided to apply to LA agencies with the portfolio I had built up. Once I got into the agency, I booked my first campaign—Abercrombie! I definitely recommend doing your research to make sure to get with the right representation; I feel very lucky to have been with several agencies who are really great at what they do.

 

4.

 

There’s a general belief that modeling and the way women are portrayed in the media can be harmful to young women. As someone who has been modeling for eight years, what’s your take on that, and how do you think your modeling career has affected you as a business woman?  

 

 

Modeling has greatly helped me in business. Usually when I model I am asked to be strong and charismatic, which is part of who I am, so it has been great to portray those characteristics through the lens. Often before a business meeting, I think of the tips I learned to trigger those traits before a shoot and work to continue to exude them in the workplace.

 

5.

 

We have to ask: in a selfie-crazed world of Facebook and Instagram, what are your tips on taking the best picture?

 

Think of something that genuinely makes you happy. Baby kittens are always my go-to trigger. Also, as Tyra would say: smile with your eyes.

 

6.

 

What have been the best and worst experiences of the traveling you did as a model?

 

I had to go to Quebec to California to Budapest all within 72 hours and do a pitch between that time. I did a great job, but it required a lot of coffee and fighting off jet lag!

 

7.

 

We enjoyed watching you on the “The Great Food Truck Race” with your Nom Nom Truck! What did you learn from that experience? And do you still like bánh mì sandwiches?

 

 

On that TV show, I learned a lot about perseverance. On the show, it looked like we were an overnight success, but between takes I would be on the computer for 3 hours straight, cold-calling locations and planning for the next city. It felt great to gain the rewards of winning 8 revenue challenges in a row, but it was definitely not an easy task and not as stress-free as it looked. As for the food, I still love bánh mì, but I am very picky about where I go for it.

 

8.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

 

Happy and satisfied with my company, and excited to grow a family.

 

9.

 

What do you like to do in your downtime? Interests? Hobbies? Secret side projects?

 

I am the team captain of a trampoline dodgeball team, which I absolutely love. I also love cats. I am very excited about the cat café that opened up in San Francisco.

 

10.

 

Onto the Fun Stuff! !

 

1. My last meal on Earth would be: Pizzeria Mozza, Margherita Pizza

2. Home away from home: San Diego

3. Dream vacation: Motorcycling through the steppes of Mongolia

4. Essential wardrobe item: Fanny pack

5. Essential gadget: My iPhone

6. Last great book I read: “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products”

 

 

 

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