STORY BY MOLLY ADAMSON
Nigel Hing is like any other college student. He often can be found up late in his apartment. Unlike most students, he’s not trying to cram for tomorrow’s hard test. He’s making pasta.
Hing, a senior finance major from Malaysia, makes pasta from his apartment behind the Kum n’ Go on University Avenue. He started his business, named Asianpasta, about two weeks ago, and plans to sell his Asian-Italian fused creations to fellow Drake students. Hing’s idea is to serve drunken students who just want good homemade food at 1 in the morning. His business hours will be from 10pm-2am.
Hing’s friend and housemate Ying Chyi Gooi, a senior majoring in actuarial science, says he was the one who gave Hing the idea. Hing cooks pasta for his friends all the time, according to Gooi.
Gooi also said that Hing is often coming up with many entrepreneur-like ideas, such as a photography business and a finance business that would help students with their money woes. When mentioning the photography business, Gooi mentioned the fact that he is the photography friend, while Hing is more of a businessman. So Hing would be relying on his friend to do the photography work if the business had taken off.
Instead of photography though, Hing decided to pursue Asian-inspired pasta.
“I realized that Americans, especially Iowans, are conservative.” Hing said. “I realized that they would be more comfortable with pasta that they recognize.”
So Hing goes to the store and buys pasta noodles that he believes are recognizable to his customers, and then goes home to give them an Asian twist.
Making the pasta is the easy part, according to Hing, but the hard part is getting the word out about his new business.
“For two days we actually cooked samples and gave them out to people around campus. Some people actually said no, which is mind boggling to me. Who says no to free food?” Hing laughed. “The hardest part is getting people to know how cheap it is.”
Hing plans to price the meals at four dollars a plate, with an extra two dollar charge if you call in and want it delivered to your dorm or apartment. He plans to keep the business small at ten plates sold per day.
To some, trying to keep your business from growing to its upmost potential might seem a little crazy, but to Hing, this pasta business is just a hobby. As a finance major, he plans to go into finance markets in the future.
He did say that the business has a possibility of growing though, and they may end up making pizza in the near future.
Starting a business in such a small community as Drake can be a challenge, and Hing addressed that.
“Drake is kind of conservative. It’s not like Harvard, or ISU. It’s so small, so if you do something wrong, everybody knows about it.” Hing continues. “So I have to kind of approach it carefully. The people at Drake don’t always experiment. They’re in close circles, they don’t get out and be adventurous much.”
Despite the challenges though, Hing keeps his head up. He always has a smile on his face, and a willingness to try.
That willingness to try is what gets entrepreneurs off their feet, according to Professor Thomas Swartwood, a professor of entrepreneurship at Drake who has taught Hing a couple of times.
“I think the difference between an entrepreneur and everyone else is that the entrepreneur actually does something,” Swartwood said. “That’s the fundamental difference. They’re not smarter, but they just get tired of bumping their toe or having to put Duck Tape on something, and so they fix it. They take a shot.”
Swartwood also gave advice to anyone seeking to become an entrepreneur like Hing.
“Students and people who want to start something always come up with an idea. They think it’s all about the idea. Ideas are like noses, we all have them,” Swartwood said. “But that doesn’t mean they’re all good, or worth pursuing. It’s not about having a good idea, it’s about the fact that does anybody else care.”
Hing definitely has the idea, and he’s seeing if anyone else cares about it.
Asianpasta has a Facebook page, and from there anyone can find the ordering form. Or you can call 515-441-2216. A plastic fork and paper plate will be included, so dishes don’t need to be washed. It usually takes them about fifteen minutes to prepare the meal, so prep time is appreciated. It is a cash only business.
It’s too early to tell, but hopefully Asianpasta gains a lot of customers, whether they’re drunk or not.