Couples Who Work, Grow, and Build at INSEAD

Ian Weng

I came to INSEAD to immerse myself in an environment to build a business. I am proud to say that this dream became a reality in June 2021 after winning the 42nd INSEAD Venture Competition (IVC) with our new venture, SPATULA Foods. What I didn’t expect was sharing this experience, and building this business with my wife!

Shela and I are dual-career partners, who prioritise work as the primary channel for our ambition. In a typical year, my partner would not have been able to join me at INSEAD since her job requires her to stay local. With recent flexibility of remote working, it gave us the opportunity to experience the INSEAD journey together, in-person.


While studying on the Fontainebleau campus, the country was locked down due to COVID-19. With restricted access to fresh ingredients and a lack of time that comes with the MBA life, Shela and I relied on frozen meals. To our surprise, in a country renowned for food, we found a slice of paradise in Picard’s gourmet frozen meals beloved by the French. We couldn’t stop thinking about why high quality frozen meals didn’t exist back home in Canada. Frozen has a horrible reputation of low quality and tastelessness. What if we could combine the amazing taste of chef-inspired restaurant quality meals with the convenience of the frozen aisle? With this idea, my wife and I set out on a mission to reimagine frozen. 

The IVC process pushed us to turn this idea into a business.

We treated this idea like our baby as we prepared for the IVC throughout the course of six months and across three campuses (Singapore, Fontainebleau, Wharton). Just like a newborn, an early business needs constant attention at the beginning in order to grow; it also requires a lot of feeding and changing. We are grateful for all the IVC mentors, INSEAD alumni network, and our peers who stepped into our circle to help us raise this baby together.


Ultimately, SPATULA Foods was the outcome. SPATULA is a chef-to-customer frozen meals marketplace that is reinventing frozen food. We do this by delivering gourmet, flash frozen meals, crafted by award-winning local chefs. Meals are delivered right to our customer’s door, and can be heated up in minutes in a pan with the stir of a spatula.

After INSEAD, Shela and I returned back to Canada. I’ve been working on SPATULA full time, and our team has grown to six people. We’re super excited to be launching SPATULA in Toronto very soon, and bringing the new venture that we built at INSEAD to life!