Sep 1, 2010
People to Watch 2010
By Jordan DeFrank, New Orleans Magazine
It would seem as though the current economy would be the worst time to begin a start-up venture. Fortunately, George Chin, Egbert Ming and Andrew Wong disregarded naysayers when they founded Jazzmen Rice earlier this year.
"Our biggest challenge was to open a new business in a slow national economy," says Chin. "Because of many business failures, it has been difficult to obtain financing and outside funding." But, he says, "I like the challenges a new business brings." Ming, who has also been a nurse anesthetist for the past 26 years, also found the risks of a brand new business thrilling. "To me, creating something from nothing is what it is all about," he says.
Jazzmen Rice sells a U.S.-bred jasmine-type aromatic variety of rice called Jazzman. Americans have had to buy traditional jasmine rice imported from Thailand, until now. With the exotic strain now grown locally (and thus selling for less), Jazzmen Rice is expected to boost production from 500 tons in its first year to 63,000 tons by 2011.
The childhood friends find satisfaction in the venture potential to boost the local economy. "Jazzmen Rice is a new product to New Orleans and the rest of the country," Ming says. "Growing this product creates jobs and helps the people of the state of Louisiana. The growth potential in limitless, and our goal is that this great product will also aide people in other states and why not other countries."
"My greatest accomplishment is to see consumers realize that our premium rice is in fact better than many out there in the market," Wong says. "In the near future, we would like to be all over the world," Chin says.