Alumni Interview: Kelly Senyei

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Meet Kelly Senyei, professional chef, founder of Just a Taste and GA Business Fundamentals and Tactics graduate.

What were you doing before you came to GA?

Prior to enrolling in the Business Fundamentals and Tactics program at GA, I was working at Condé Nast as an editor at Epicurious.com and Gourmet.com. I was also running my site, Just a Taste, part-time.

What brought you to GA?

I was inspired to enroll in the Business Fundamentals and Tactics program at GA because I wanted to transform my site from a part-time hobby to a full-time business. I come from the creative side and never felt like I had learned the basic business principles to make it happen, so I enrolled in what I viewed as “business bootcamp” at GA. The program was informative, inspiring and empowering.

What was the best thing you took away from your course?

While I learned countless practical skills in the program — from how to build a financial model to how to effectively acquire a key customer base — the biggest asset was channeling my newfound knowledge into action. I felt inspired to implement classroom lessons into my own business, particularly in the early phases of developing a strong business plan.

Tell us about Just a Taste.

I founded Just a Taste in 2008 as a way to chronicle my family’s rich recipe history. Over the past five and-a-half years, the site has grown into an expansive online destination that serves up food and lifestyle inspiration for every meal and any occasion. I publish original recipes, step-by-step recipe photo tutorials, and a weekly video series that helps food lovers save time and up their game in the kitchen.

Tell us about your book, Food Blogging For Dummies.

Food Blogging For Dummies is a resource for anyone and everyone who is inspired to share their passion for food with the online world. The book is a comprehensive guide that covers everything from how to register a domain and brainstorm your blog name, to how to photograph food and monetize your site. It has been an incredible experience to help so many people bring their culinary passions to life online.

How do you promote your business and personal brand?

It’s no surprise that social media is a huge component of successfully marketing and promoting a brand, but I’ve recently streamlined my efforts and seen great engagement on both Facebook and Pinterest. At the end of the day though, content is king. So I devote a large portion of my time to content strategy and to really understanding my audience’s needs so that I can best meet them.

Any challenges that you didn’t expect?

It wasn’t unexpected, but the biggest challenge I’ve encountered is managing my time. I am the only employee, so I do everything from developing the content plan, creating the recipes, and photographing each dish, to marketing the content, setting and reaching financial and traffic goals, and, of course, doing the dishes!

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself since starting your own business?

I knew transforming Just a Taste from a hobby to a business would test my abilities not only from a creative standpoint, but even more so from a business standpoint. I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve reacted to bumps in the road and made course corrections along the way to keep the site on a successful path. I’ve learned to constantly evolve my approach and strategy, while at the same time not be afraid to take risks.

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best advice I ever received was to surround yourself with smart, supportive, critical thinkers who can serve as mentors and sounding boards as you navigate the entrepreneurial world. It’s important to make your own decisions, but it never hurts to get a second opinion.

What’s your favorite recipe?

On the savory side, my all-time favorite recipe is Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, which stars tender shredded chicken tossed in an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce. It’s gourmet comfort food at its finest. And on the sweet side, I can’t get enough of my Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are soft and chewy in the center and slightly crisp on the edges.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure has always been doughnuts. I don’t discriminate when it comes to deep-fried dough, but my all-time favorite would have to be a glazed apple fritter.