Tri Tran
Co-founder CEO Munchery

I am one of those ‘Vietnamese boat people’.

In 1986, I was 11 years old and I illegally escaped Vietnam in a small 30-foot boat with 112 people piled on top of each other! My parents didn’t make it to the boat. First 2 days the boat was camouflaged to look like fishing boats. We were hidden inside the boat people were dumped on each other and literally drank around 8oz water in a day. Sea sickness kicked in and people started throwing on each other. The Smell of vomit and mud. I still remember that.

After coming to US, I stayed at my Uncles place, worked hard, got into MIT. I interned and upon graduation was able to go to visit my parents for first time in 11 years! Later I worked at silicon graphics and then a startup. Soon I decided I never want to work for a big company. After trying few ideas, I decided to take the leap of faith and quit my full time job. For our startup, I started out with the dreaded question “what’s for dinner”. That’s how munchies got started.

I delivered food for 2 months myself and then raised seed from our customers. I take away from my story is: “A lot of times people say you are at a disadvantage as an immigrant. I will say it’s reverse. You have overcome a lot of adversaries. Be willing to tell that story” To make a startup you need 2 things Never give up. Solve a real problem. As an immigrant, you already have one leg up.

From that dreaded boat trip from Vietnam trying to save my life to starting a company that raised 100+ M$ in funding and created 100’s of jobs, it’s been a great immigrant journey! I am very busy in general but would be happy to answer some questions every few days.

How did you meet your co-founder? Can you share your journey about going about finding the right co-founder?

I was lucky to meet Conrad Chu, my Co-founder and Munchery's CTO, while leading the engineering teams at Convio and GetActive Software (acquired by Convio). We loved working together, and as two fathers, felt the same problem of having little time to cook healthy, nutritious meals for our families while working as engineers. It was this shared experience that inspired us to create Munchery.

Did you try any other startup ideas before Munchery? If yes, what were they and why did each of them not work out :)?

My main foray into the startup world, prior to Munchery, was my role as Director of Engineering at GetActive, then at Convio. GetActive, which built online software and tools for non-profits, was acquired in 2007 by Convio, the leading provider of CRM for non-profits.

How did you validate the concept of Munchery before quitting your job? Can you share some stories?

I first begged any chefs I could find on Yelp to cook for Munchery. I still remember the first chef I met in person. She was very confused by what we were trying to do (rightfully so!), but she ends up being one of our biggest supporters today. Th...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free

How did you come up with the idea for Munchery?

In my family, I've always been the one to do the cooking. I love cooking and providing healthy, nutritious meals for my family, but as a software engineer, I found myself struggling to find the time to cook. When short on time, we'd have to settle...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
How did you maintain your state of mind and well being during the period of building a startup, which is filled with stress and hard decisions? Are there any self development practices that you put in place?

Working in the food industry is hard, how do you manage the relationships with your providers?

What was the mvp of munchery?

Amazing story. Nothing can scare you anymore!

Are there any particular incidents you remember when you said to yourself  “I have seen worse” or “I made a lot of sacrifices to be here” so I need to do this. Can you share any stories about things you did which otherwise you wouldn’t have if not for the incidents of escaping in a boat?