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Startup Challenge’s Dumpling Queen Returns to the Party Scene

In the darker days of shelter in place, dinner with friends seemed a million miles away. 

But with increased access to covid tests, vaccines, and safeguards, there is a glimmer of hope for normalcy, even if that means meeting up with a few people to make, share and enjoy the food over the conversation.

And Miss Lippe’s Dumpling Party Founder Emily Lippe wants to make it as fun— and easy—as possible to connect over a shared love of food.

“I have always loved making and eating dumplings,” said Lippe. “Over the years. I started bringing friends together to do it. I’d have different friends from different aspects of my life come over and I’d show them how to make dumplings. I realized how fun it was to connect people who didn’t necessarily know each other over food.”

After years of facilitating dumpling-themed get-togethers, Lippe realized she could turn her passion for socializing over food into a business. After briefly considering a food truck, Lippe realized she enjoyed planning and facilitating parties more than actually serving food. 

“I come with everything pretty much prepared and I bring snacks because everyone always gets a little bit hungry at the beginning, “she said. “I bring two or three types of fillings for everyone to fold, and show you how to fold the dumplings. Once you’re done folding, I’ll cook them for you while you just kind of hang out and spend time with friends or new friends.”

When the COVID pandemic threw a wrench in her social-based business, Miss Lippe pivoted to take the business online.

“My business is about people sitting together and being next to each other and we weren’t allowed to do that for a long period of time,” she said. So I had to shift gears and figure out how to support people doing the parties virtually.  I developed a dumpling kit to ship to people so that they could just have that at their house and then we’d log into Zoom and we’d build them together.”

But as traditional gatherings become more commonplace, Lippe became eager to get back to hosting in-person events. Determined to develop her business, Lippe applied to Startup Challenge 2022, pitched her business idea for the first time… and won first place in the Mainstreet Division.

“It was a really good experience in terms of just coming up with a more concise way to look at my business and present my business,” said Lippe. “I just met a lot of really cool other small business owners. Even if I hadn’t won I felt like I just got to meet so many awesome people, I was really happy about it.” 

Though Lippe had never pitched before, participating in the Startup Challenge process helped build her confidence. 

They were so helpful,” she said. “They had webinars on a regular basis to talk about how to develop your pitch and the main criteria to look at. The whole time I was building out my pitch deck, I was referencing the videos they saved for us and the sample pitch decks that they had given us. That gave me the guidance to actually nail it down.”

Today Lippe hosts dumpling parties in the Monterey Bay Area, occasionally traveling to the Bay Area. She also sells her dumplings at local farmers’ markets and hopes to eventually open her own private space for parties and gatherings. Lippe is also looking to partner with more local businesses, such as beer and wine vendors.

“Now the adjustment is getting people to gather and finding partnerships and people who want to start doing more in-person events. My new challenge now is like getting that piece going again.

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