Michelle Chu, founder of Kono's Kitchen, with her dog Kono.
Kono's Kitchen founder Michelle Chu found that launching during COVID-19 helped her business, as more people were home with their pets and dedicating time to training them. — Sarah DeRemer / @dogtographer.la

Business inspiration often stems from lived experiences — an entrepreneur's "real-life" challenges and passions can spark some of the most inventive solutions. For Kono's Kitchen founder Michelle Chu, that inspiration came from an American Staffordshire Terrier mix rescue named Kono.

When Chu rescued Kono in December 2018, she quickly settled into her new role as a dog mom and set out to give her new pup the best life possible. In this process, Chu discovered the benefits of a raw food diet for dogs. However, she also realized that keeping a raw diet was time-consuming, expensive and difficult to maintain during travel. Chu knew that she could use her passion for pet care to make a raw diet more accessible.

From this discovery, Kono's Kitchen was born. The brand offers freeze-dried raw treats for dogs, giving pet parents a convenient way to feed their pups a healthier diet. Additionally, 10% of all profits go toward the medical expenses of rescue dogs in need.

Launching during the pandemic was 'perfect timing'

According to Chu, Kono's Kitchen had always been set to launch in 2020. This timeline remained unchanged by the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that turned out to be good for business.

"As it turns out, it was perfect timing to launch during COVID, because I was selling the treats online as more people were adopting pets and working from home," Chu explained. "There's more time for dog training and, therefore, a greater demand for treats!"

Kono's Kitchen filled another growing need during the pandemic: a sense of community and connection to like-minded individuals, in this case, "imperfect pet parents."

"There are more people now than ever before interested in feeding their dog(s) a raw diet and Kono's Kitchen helps make it easier to feed a healthier diet, starting with treats," Chu told CO—.

[Read: The Pet Economy Kicks Into Overdrive]

As it turns out, it was perfect timing to launch during COVID, because I was selling the treats online as more people were adopting pets and working from home.

Michelle Chu, founder, Kono's Kitchen

Early workflows make for smoother growth

For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to launch their business or side hustle during the pandemic, Chu recommends establishing efficient workflows early in the process. Prior to launch, Chu set up templates and workflows on various platforms, including Canva, Klaviyo, Google Sheets and Notion. She especially loves using Canva for asset creation.

"It's such a great platform for non-designers like me who want to create different types of content, like guides, infographics and even email templates," said Chu.

She then developed email marketing templates within Klaviyo, allowing her to simply drop in the content and send the emails to her customer base.

Chu has also found that batching her time, or focusing on one type of task in a given period, has also boosted her productivity.

"You will definitely tweak your systems as you learn and grow," she added, "but having the foundation set allows you to focus more on things like building relationships with your customers."

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