Tom is one of the twin co-founders of Vite Ramen, a small business making high protein, ultra-nutritious instant ramen. He has a B.S. in Clinical Nutrition from UC Davis and is passionate about small business marketing and branding. He served as marketing director for Vite Ramen, including two extremely successful Kickstarter campaigns, and loves helping other small businesses build their marketing strategies without huge budgets. Tom is an advocate for mental health acceptance (especially ADHD/ASD), and can be found playing with his dog Rocky or nerding out about his dozens of hobbies in his spare time.
About Vite Ramen
We’re a bunch of nerds who like esports, anime, gaming, TCGs, parkour, cooking, and all kinds of other stuff! Vite Kitchens was started by twin brothers, Tim and Tom Zheng. Tim cooked in a Michelin Star restaurant after culinary school, then graduated with a degree in Managerial Economics from UC Davis, while Tom graduated with a degree in Clinical Nutrition from UC Davis.
Our dream is to make delicious, nutritious food for everybody, and do some silly (but fun) things on the side, like making unreasonably large pots of noodles or hand making giant plinko boards for cons!
We spent hundreds of hours in our tiny college apartment testing recipes and many late nights calculating nutrition to make what would eventually be Vite Ramen!
Eventually, with shaky hands and bated breath, we managed to launch our Kickstarter, which was successful beyond our wildest dreams, being funded in under an hour! 4,295 backers pledged $249,087 to help get us started, and because of their generosity, we never had to take investors or VC funding, meaning we’re able to execute our vision exactly how we want it, with people first.
As a small business that believes that food shouldn’t be a race to the bottom, we want to make ramen ethically and responsibly: in fact, we make all the noodles ourselves in the USA, pay employees a living wage and only use high quality ingredients we’d eat ourselves (because we do)!
We’re also committed to always keeping a fair, living wage for everyone we work with and ensuring healthy work-life balances, including no questions asked paid time off for mental health. The unfortunate reality of the situation is that if we wanted to produce at dirt cheap levels like standard instant ramen, we would have to outsource to factories overseas who might exploit their workers, and that’s something that we refuse to do. Instead, we produce in the USA to make sure that every part of Vite Ramen, from the ingredients to the labor, is traceable and accountable.
Being from a culinary background, we’re intimately familiar with the kind of exploitation that workers can be subject to, and the kind of poverty people can experience even while working twelve hour days. The first step to combating this kind of exploitation is to set up business models that incorporate living wages and healthy amounts of vacation and PTO for people, rather than the unsustainable business models that currently exist. Ever since the beginning, it’s been our intention to set up a program in the future to help distribute our ramen free of charge to those who need it, as giving back to others is something that we think the world can always use more of.
Vite Kitchens is all about communication, transparency, and just generally trying to be good people.
We’re a startup so we’re still working out the kinks, but we will always listen to everyone’s suggestions, complaints, and strive to improve ourselves any way we can. Feel free to contact us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!