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Nana Ai Katsu Case Study

Nana Ai Katsu is a premium Katsu specialty shop based in Honolulu, Hawaii. The shop was established in August 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic by a husband and wife team, and quickly became a local hit. Gravity Capital helped the owners, Mike and Lei, expand from a stall in a marketplace to a standalone location through flexible financing.

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Introducing Nana Ai Katsu

We’re Mike and Lei, the husband and wife co-founders of Nana Ai Katsu. We are a local family business in Honolulu, Hawaii that specializes in katsu. We opened during a stressful time at the start of the COVID pandemic when our retail shops weren’t doing so well. My husband, Mike, loves to cook and it’s come up a few times in the past that we should start a food truck or small food stand so we did it! It was so scary to move into a new industry in the middle of a pandemic and we wouldn’t have grown if it wasn’t for the local community who supported us from the beginning. 

It’s important to us to give back to our community and charities so you might see us talking about fundraisers or promoting causes we support on Instagram. Right now, we are only open for take-out, and instead decided to use our dining room to feature local artists’ products such as dog bandanas, natural soy-based candles in cute mugs, handmade ceramics, and more!

Struggling with big barriers to SBA loans

We started Nana Ai Katsu with little upfront and our savings. Once we realized we wanted to expand we started to look for loan options. We had no idea it would be so difficult to obtain a loan, and this is something more people should tell you about. We tried for SBA loans, big bank loans, personal loans, and grants, which didn’t come through. Because we haven’t been in business for 2 years, big banks won’t even consider helping us. It was really frustrating because we really wanted to expand and felt we could do it with a little help.

Growing their business with Gravity Capital

Gravity made it so easy for us. The team communicated clearly and were transparent about the total cost of our funding. Instead of lengthy applications that would take me hours to fill out with other companies, Gravity’s was short and I got a response within 24 hours. We are so grateful to Gravity for helping us when we really needed it and when no one else would. We were able to pay for vendor and contractor bills to open our new bigger location a few months ago!

It’s so easy to sign up, and I love how it breaks the tradition of needing an entire day to fill out an application. Thank you for helping us to move forward with our business! You saved us months to a year of having to save up the money we needed right away to open our new location. Thank you for helping us when no one else would.

Nana Ai Katsu’s Experience

Gravity is amazing! This is one of the few companies I’ve seen where the company culture flows out of everyone you talk to. They are all supportive of the company, their clients, and each other. We’ve met many different team members and we like them all! When a company treats its employees well it’s passed down to everyone they interact with and I definitely feel it. Over the past few years the Gravity team has been consistent about checking in with us, either by dropping by, emailing, or calling. They even go out of their way to stop in to support us and other local businesses for lunch, or between client visits. 

Next on the Menu

We would like to come up with creative menu items that highlight local dishes. We mainly serve Japanese food but because we are local we can always incorporate that into our menu. Getting our liquor license is on our to-do list too and maybe hosting weekly dine-in events before we fully open up for dine-in. Once things are pretty steady we would like to open a second location on the island.

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