Passion with a PINCH of Culture
Sean Wen, 2014 Fellow
Like a lot of his classmates at UT Austin, Sean began his career in finance, joining Goldman Sachs as an analyst. He quickly realized that he wanted to be a part of something bigger and more meaningful—and when he heard about Venture for America, it seemed like the right opportunity for Sean to make an impact.
I wanted to mow the lawn and turn around to see the fresh grass behind me. I didn’t want to be a small part in the machinery of the lawnmower.
Inspired by Fellow Foodies
Sean joined the class of 2014 and took a job at a startup in Baltimore where he fell in love with the city and the VFA community almost immediately upon arrival. He had the chance to experience Remington Chop—an annual event started by VFA Fellows—which gives local food lovers the chance to learn from Baltimore’s best chefs and brewmasters. It’s a day full of culinary workshops, live music, a pop up biergarten, and a real community spirit. Sean had always been passionate about food, and watching his fellow Fellows build an event for the community inspired him to quit stalling and begin pursuing his passion.
Chasing a Dream with an Old Friend
When Sean joined VFA, his college friend Andrew was living and working in Southeast Asia. Andrew and Sean had a tradition of organizing Vietnamese style crawfish boils at UT Austin, and Andrew thought their fun, well-attended events could translate into a business. Sean knew he wanted to continue living the VFA mission to revitalize cities through entrepreneurship, so he moved from Baltimore to another VFA city, San Antonio, to set up shop. But he knew he still had some learning to do before going full-time, so he landed a job with Geekdom, a coworking space that helped him learn the landscape of San Antonia’s startup community.
Catching the Attention of a Major Brand
Before launching, Sean entered VFA’s Innovation Fund, a crowdfunding competition that helped him and Andrew validate their ideas and build out the brand for their new company, Pinch Crawfish Kitchen. They took their Indiegogo campaign very seriously—launching social media campaigns with an impossible number of crawfish puns (Craylor Swift, anyone?) and designing rewards like stickers and beanies—and it paid off. Sean woke up one morning to find a $10,000 boost in his funds. Unbeknownst to Sean, Pinch had caught the attention of Triscuit, who teamed up with Indiegogo to flash fund 55 artisanal food makers. Triscuit helped fund Sean’s campaign, and also helped Pinch get some great press. With enough seed funding to get off the ground, Pinch threw their first boil in March and have been cooking up a storm ever since.
Whenever you have the support of your CEO or boss that is huge. It has been really nice to have someone in our corner.
Building for the Future
Like a lot of fledgling founders, Sean is balancing a full time job and a burgeoning business—but unlike a lot of entrepreneurs, he has the full support and encouragement of Geekdom. Pinch has expanded beyond just crawfish, cooking up crab, shrimp, mussels and more. In addition to community boils, Pinch sets up the occasional pop up food stand and has begun catering private events. Check out their website and look out for their first brick and mortar restaurant, coming soon!