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Bird's-nest entrepreneur aims for high-flying business

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2014-11-21 07:59

Bird's-nest entrepreneur aims for high-flying business
Yang Congyun opens her first bird's-nest store in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, with dreams of prosperity. Photo provided to China Daily

When she was pregnant in 2010, her father bought 2 kilograms of edible bird's nests from a friend in Malaysia to help keep her healthy. Since then, her family has the habit of eating the nests from time to time.

In October last year, she shared on WeChat how her mother painstakingly made her delicious edible bird's nest to nourish her body because she was not feeling very well at the time.

"I posted online that I was moved because my mother had to use tweezers to pick away all the stray feathers. Many friends were touched by her show of love," she says.

When her friends started asking her to buy the nests for them, she began to sell them on WeChat in January. Her customer base grew through word-of-mouth.

In April, she visited the Malaysian state of Sarawak, a region famous for edible bird's nests, to invest in several birdhouses and take photos and videos of the nests. Her sales surpassed 300,000 yuan within eight days during that time.

But she soon found that many customers were not returning. She then learned that they simply stored the nests away because they were too busy or they thought it too complicated to prepare the soup.

It takes about three hours to soak the nests in purified water and 50 minutes to boil them. Because the soup will not taste good without proper boiling, she started boiling it for some of her friends. Beginning in May, she started delivering boiled edible bird's nests to her customers.

"I like her nests and her good service," says Zhang Yan, 37, a businesswoman in Yiwu and a regular customer. "I will have my boiled bird's nests delivered whenever I call her. I feel that my lungs are better than before because I smoke."

In August, Yang opened a store in Yiwu, moving her business from online to a brick-and-mortar shop.

"I want to make it a cozy gathering place for my friends, who can chat among themselves and relax here," she says.

One small bowl of boiled edible bird's nest costs 80 to 100 yuan, with more than a dozen flavors available including date, lily and ginger. Customers can also order egg tarts and puddings made from bird's nests.

She makes seasonal flavors, often fruits, to cater to the tastes of youngsters.

"The nests are good for men and women, young and old people. One may choose flavors in accordance with one's constitution. For example, men who often smoke can have the tremella flavor, made from a fungus, to moisten the lungs," she says.

Yang plans to open a second and third store in Yiwu through crowdfunding in Dongyang, Zhejiang province.


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