For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.” There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling. Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that.
Kim literally put the Treats Truck on the road in June 2007. Her treats, prepared in her Brooklyn bakery, immediately became a hit with New Yorkers who now look forward to the arrival of the Treats Truck (nicknamed “Sugar”) in their neighborhoods. Recently, Kim was among several small businesses from across the nation tapped by Visa to be featured in a commercial showcasing the innovation and commitment of entrepreneurs. “I still love seeing my customers and they’re supporting me as best they can, even though they’re dealing with economic problems too,” Kim says. “They want me to succeed because they see me working hard and know that I care about the quality of the food and the Treats Truck experience.”
“I hit the jackpot with Elliot,” Kim says. “His background was ideal for what I needed. Plus, we hit it off personally, which was very important to me. Starting a business is like a cookie recipe. Sometimes a dash of naiveté can be good, but you also need to realize the importance of decisions, because what you’re doing is big. I believed in my idea and Elliot believed in me.”
Kim worked with SCORE mentor Elliot Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”
Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”