Daniel J. Kim, the company’s Founder & Chief Concept Officer, graduated from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 1998, and first worked as an investment banker. His passion lay elsewhere and in July 2007, Red Mango was born. He is currently the company’s chief concept officer and resident customer service evangelist, tweeting at @RedMango to respond to customer feedback and build engagement. Kim has been recognized as one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business for 2010” and was named to Dallas Business Journals “40 Under Forty” list of top business leaders. Of course none of those achievements can hold a candle to the fact that Daniel has also provided a Red Mango frozen yogurt machine to the home and office of actor Leonardo DiCaprio! Kidding aside (although true), we caught up with the man himself and picked his brain about entrepreneurship, passion, and of course, the best yogurt on the face of the Earth! Read below for the full interview…
For those of us unfamiliar with yourself and Red Mango, could you let us in on what it is exactly?
Dan: Red Mango is the fasting growing brand of all-natural frozen yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies. Our company is based on the principals of health, taste and style, and our mission is to help people feel happier and healthier whenever they engage with our brand and our restaurants.
Dan, not only are you the man behind the whole idea, but you are the concept officer as well. What are your plans to evolve the product brand into 2012?
Dan: I’m always looking for ways to improve or innovate popular treats, snacks or fast meal replacements in way that make them healthier and taste better. You’ll see me focus a lot on our smoothies over the next year or two.
Do you feel your success is even more vital, as it may inspire potential future Asian-American business owners?
Dan: I think my success is a result of my focus to everything I believe in, and everything I want the Red Mango brand to become.
So what exactly drove you to switch gears from investment banking to Yogurt?
Dan: I’m an entrepreneur at heart. Investment banking was a great experience as it introduced me to how businesses work and how transactions are executed. I’m passionate about building things that make people happy. That’s what Red Mango does.
Japan Cinema operates out of Texas as well, so we may be a bit biased by saying we love it here in Texas. How is the new headquarters operations enjoying the Dallas area?
Dan: I’m a California native, and spend a lot of time in New York. Dallas is great. I had to get used to the weather, especially during the summer, but it’s a terrific city that has a lot of offer, both culturally and economically.
Do you feel the healthy all-natural ingredients, in addition to numerous health benefits, contribute to the fact your yogurt tastes better then any other chain? Also what is your favorite flavor?
Dan: Absolutely. The secret to our yogurt is in its simplicity. We only use 5 ingredients to make our yogurt, with nonfat milk being the top ingredient. Making yogurt is like making wine. The secret is in how you ferment the milk into yogurt to make sure it not only tastes great, but is also the healthiest yogurt that can be created. My favorite flavor right now is Caribbean Coconut!
What are the five things that enabled you to be successful?
Dan: Focus, passion, working all the time, ability to overcome failure, and always staying connected to your customers.
OK, we have to ask, even a busy man like yourself watching movies from time to time. Have any favorite Asian films?
Dan: Probably, 200 Pound Beauty.
I’ve noticed you embrace Twitter and Facebook as tool of promotion and interaction, which is something I think a lot of businesses neglect. What causes you to believe in and understand viral marketing so well?
Dan: I think it’s because I let myself be who I am. Social media is all about being social, and all of us skilled at that. I think too many companies or people try too hard to be something they are not online, which is why they struggle. For me, everything I post on Facebook or Twitter represents who I am.
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