We had the good fortune of connecting with Yibo Wei and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yibo, what do you attribute your success to?
Integrity. Sea cucumbers, bird nests, and fish maw; these exotic food items used in centuries-old Chinese dishes are only some of those we sell in the western market. As one of the biggest e-commerce platforms selling genuine Chinese delicacies in America, we always strive to maintain authenticity, trustworthiness, and transparency. Because we don’t have a physical retail store, it is especially challenging to establish customer trust given the high unit price of dried seafood. So we established rigorous product standards, provided accurate product information, offered product samples and unconditional return policy to safeguard our integrity. Confidence and trust are central to integrity, and this is also our commitment to our suppliers. Whether they are Alaska’s fishermen or Wisconsin’s American ginseng farmers, we partnered with people who share the same values as we do. Despite difficulties such as extreme weather, US-China trade war, and cutthroat competition, we remain steadfast in our mission to deliver on promises and put our best foot forward for every client. Our commitment to integrity also extends to the realms of social responsibility and the environment. We care about and are committed to leading the whole industry towards a more sustainable future. Overfishing in Mexico and South America once pushed certain species of sea cucumbers to the brink of extinction. So, we are the first in the industry who work with environmental organizations, local governments, and fishermen communities to establish sustainable management of the sea cucumber fisheries in hopes of protecting these creatures and securing income for rural communities. Since our founding, our business philosophy has been and will always be integrity first. This is also the fundamental reason for the success of our business. We stand up for what we believe in.
What should our readers know about your business?
We are the No. 1 online sea cucumber retailer in America. Every sea cucumber in our product line is wild and individually hand-caught. We perfectly combine traditional techniques with modern technology to produce dried products, and the whole process is supervised by FDA and the American Health Bureau. Not a single additive is introduced during the production process, making it the best green, healthy, organic food. As the industry leader, we are also proud to have established the industry standard for dried sea cucumbers throughout the United States by doing 4 things. 1. Product documentation. We referred to a large number of academic materials about sea cucumbers and summarized the types, nutrients, and pharmacological effects of each product. We then sent our sea cucumber samples to professional quality inspection institutes to analyze their properties. We also took pictures of our products, as well as compiled creative recipes. Finally, we established a detailed and comprehensive encyclopedia for different types of sea cucumbers. 2. Standardization. We divided sea cucumbers into different specifications and grades according to their age, size, and appearance. 3. Sample packs. We provided samples for customers to try so they can better choose the most suitable products. 4. Online pre-sale consulting services and unconditional return and exchange services. Once XLSEAFOOD went live in 2013, it quickly became a sensation in the entire Northern American Chinese community. In 2015, we were honored with a commendation from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and California State Senator Bob Huff for our outstanding dedication and commitment to the industry. As a local American business, we are also committed to popularizing Chinese food ingredients to mainstream American society. We participated in exhibitions in the States to introduce these exotic ingredients to the western palate. More importantly, we hope to extol the benefits of the traditional Chinese food and Chinese style of health maintenance, inspire people to be open-minded to cook something that may surprise them, and reduce some of the common prejudices against traditional Chinese food. In recent years, we have expanded our products to include fish maw, birds nest, abalone, scallops, mushrooms, Chinese herbal medicine, etc. At the same time, we have opened flagship stores on mainstream e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Walmart to bring more healthy food to more families.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I will take them to the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles. As the busiest passenger and freight terminal port in the United States, perhaps the world, one can truly appreciate the scale of the operation at this American logistics hub. Besides, nearby museums featuring the Queen Mary and USS Iowa Museum, are excellent stops for learning about the height of pre-WWII maritime engineering. My favorite destination is the Pacific Aquarium, the largest on the west coast. It features a collection of over 11,000 animals representing over 500 different species. I want to show my friends a variety of special “seafood” in the Western Pacific region, and the highlight, an area where we can directly interact with 2 species of sea cucumber unique to the United States.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Firstly, I would like to shoutout to my customers, whose unwavering trust, support, and recommendations in the last years are what make XLSEAFOOD into the way it is today. At the same time, this progress also belongs to my partner and my team of colleagues. Fishing and processing dried sea cucumbers is a very laborious procedure. After being hand-picked out of the ocean, sea cucumbers are sent to our processing center in California. To ensure the quality, each must be thoroughly cleaned many times, and then dried in the open air on the net. Because it is sun-dried, it needs to be manually flipped one by one every day. To maintain high temperature and proper humidity control, the warehouse must operate without air conditioning even in LA’s 110-degree summer heat. Therefore, every sea cucumber that leaves the factory is truly the crystallized results of our team’s efforts. Finally, I want to thank my wife. The road to entrepreneurship is full of various uncertainties, and she has always supported and encouraged me to move forward. Back in the early days of the business, we needed to do all the work ourselves. When we upgraded the website in 2015, my wife spent 4-5 hours every day in addition to her full-time job helping me redesign the website. She even self-studied Photoshop to complete art editing work. Later, our home doubled as the office, the sunroom served as our photo room, and I am glad to have her on this adventurous road.