Friday, June 9, 2017

Hooker’s Fusion: A Taste of Japanese-Inspired Street Food

By: Jane Ray
Business Advisor
(Guam SBDC)

EJ and Nao Hooker are a couple with a diverse background and a strong passion and love of entertaining friends and family.  They decided to employ their passion for food and ventured into the opportunity of entrepreneurship.  EJ was a world traveler as part of his job as a Navy Enlisted Sailor and retired recently after 20 years of service.  He is a California native while Nao is originally from Tokyo, Japan.  She has extensive background experience as a Sous Chef from her time in Japan.  The couple’s passion can be seen and tasted through the food that they create and prepare together. 

As an experiment, Nao created her own Asian Yakisoba sauce.  Their business, Hooker’s Fusion, has several bestselling items; Takoyaki balls with squid and their specially prepared Hooker’s Takoyaki sauce.  The Takoyaki is made differently than anyone else’s on Guam.  They also have stir fried Yakisoba noodles and cabbage with your choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp. 

 EJ and Nao do not only focus on using the freshest ingredients available for their dishes. They also demonstrate their firm commitment towards each of their customers.  Hooker’s key philosophy is to serve high quality, delicious food with great reverence for Omotenashi, which simply means the Japanese way of treating a customer with welcoming spirit, warmth, understanding, and above all, respect.  This concept resonates from Ichigo-ichie which is the host’s belief that every encounter is single and unique.  Their strong focus on serving each of their customers with the most aspiring and special experience is another part of the ingredient of their business.        

After extensive testing of their special sauces and dishes, EJ and Nao conducted several surveys and decided that it was time to move to the next level.  They came to the Guam Small Business Development Center for guidance to make their dream into reality.  Guam SBDC assisted them in researching business numbers on the financial plan and revising content within the business plan.  They believe that Guam SBDC was a crucial part of helping them reach their goals and turn their dream into reality.  Starting a business is a complicated process and Guam SBDC was able to help with the ins and outs of starting their business. 

The most memorable triumph in the startup process was getting their business license.  They realized that, at that moment, there was no turning back after the initial milestone.  The short-term goal for their business is to have an ecofriendly food truck while maintaining quality and tasty food at affordable pricing throughout Guam.  EJ and Nao believe that the key questions they should constantly ask themselves are whether or not their food is inexpensive, healthy, convenient, and tasty for their customers.  Ultimately, the key goal is to satisfy the needs of the people on Guam.             
The one piece advice that EJ and Nao have for all new entrepreneurs who wish to explore the opportunity is to start and continue through the entire startup process as there will be detours in the road.  Do not get discouraged based on a bump on the road.  It is important to remember that the process is not a sprint but is a marathon.  A firm commitment to the business and your customers is the key ingredient to a successful business.    

For more information, you can contact EJ at 671-848-2543 or email   

Friday, June 2, 2017

Nabeyama Aquaculture Ensuring Food Security with Aquaculture

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Lalou of Ngatpang State in the Republic of Palau. Owned and managed by Rubeang Hiromi Nabeyama and his children. Mr. Nabeyama demonstrated his determination in aquaculture by opening his own farm business growing milkfish (Aol), mangrove crab (Chemang), two species of rabbitfish (Klsebuul and Meas), and various species of giant clams (Kim). The newly opened farm is conveniently along the Compact Road on the Eastern coast of Babeldaob. Nabeyama began with giant clam farm over a decade ago. Later on, Nabeyama got into mangrove crab farming. In 2016, Nabeyama furthered his interest in aquaculture by participating in trips with the Ngerdubch Corporation to the Philippines to learn more about fish farming. Nabeyama Aquaculture is now in full operation, with stocks of rabbitfish, mangrove crabs, and giant clams being raised on the farm. The farm also conducted tours for elementary school students during the recent Educational Awareness Week in March; tours are also available for locals and tourists alike.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
In the interview, Mr. Nabeyama states that “merael mo diak a ngikel,” which means the fish are decreasing. His vision is to ensure food security for Palau with local favorites through aquaculture—harvesting raised fish and leaving the wild fish stock time to recover. His plan is to raise fish sustainably, sell them at competitive prices, provide healthy food choices, and contribute to research in Palau’s aquaculture. Nabeyama plans to add a local species of shrimp to his farm.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Over 10 years ago, Mr. Nabeyama planted his roots in aquaculture through giant clam farming. After that, Nabeyama added mangrove crabs to his repertoire. More recently, he attended field trips to the Philippines with the Ngerdubch Corporation to learn more about fish farming and aquaculture. The small, commercial-scale farm is a direct result of Nabeyama’s participation in Palau’s aquaculture industry and the agriculture/aquaculture loan packages available at the National Development Bank of Palau.

How did the Small Business Development Center help you?
Palau SBDC helped Nabeyama with his aquaculture loan application package at National Development Bank of Palau. The Center helped him develop realistic financial projections for business plan for his farm, Nabeyama Aquaculture.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
Nabeyama Aquaculture was started initial with personal investments by Mr. Nabeyama. With the help of an unsecured loan from NDPB, Nabeyama was able to push the project forward when funds were low. His investment in the farm includes the land (both used as collateral and used as the farm), personal funds, and a lot of help from his family. The success of the project will also be funded by the proceeds from the aquaculture loan Mr. Nabeyama secured from NDBP, that will be used to purchase fish stocks and feed, and to help progress the project closer towards full capacity.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced during the pre-development and start-up process?
There were many challenges along the way, including developing the land into its current state. The pre-development process took about six months in which the part of the adjacent mangrove forest was cleared and the two fishponds were excavated. Another hurdle in the process was the length of time and cost of obtaining an Environmental Assessment (EA), as a requirement for the Environmental Quality Protection permit.
During this pre-development process, Mr. Nabeyama invested a lot of his time, personal funds, and effort into the farm. Nabeyama’s children also spent a lot of time and effort helping in the farm development.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
Nabeyama plans to expand his farm north along the coastal edge of his property. Additional ponds will be excavated, then stocked with more fish, crabs, and shrimp to meet the anticipated demand for locally produced seafood products. Nabeyama also plans to include tours of the farm as an aqua-tourism activity to experience a different marine ecosystem and habitat. Visitors will be able to purchase freshly harvested fish or enjoy hot meals made with the products from the farm.

What advice would you give to others who want to start an aquaculture farm in Palau?
First of all it requires a lot of knowledge in the various species, systems, and nature itself. Workers, and farm owners, require training to understand feeding and maintenance of species. An understanding of the tides and tidal effects on the ponds and fish are equally important, as this may vary with time and place. Business owners must understand the importance of EQPB (Environmental Quality Protection) permits and be aware of the costs of obtaining such permits. Lastly, State Governments need to do its part in identifying areas suitable for aquaculture and enabling individuals or business to conduct much needed economic activities through proper legislations, such as reclassifying areas for aquaculture.

Nabeyama Aquaculture is located in Ngimis, Ngatpang open daily from 7:30am - 4:30pm. For more information on their services, they can be reached at 680-535-1045.