A HK Startup Heading to World’s #1 Food Tech Accelerator
Raised USD$200k seed money. Heading to Food-X, the world’s #1 food innovation accelerator based out of New York. HK startup, Yomee, is set to disrupt the yogurt market.
How did Yomee start?
Ashok: Yomee started like most businesses start: from personal need. I grew up in India, where almost everyone makes yogurt at home because it’s just the right temperature to make yogurt year-round. I grew up eating homemade yogurt, but when I moved to Hong Kong, I couldn’t be bothered making yogurt at home until our daughter started eating solids. When we found out that she loves yogurt, we wanted to buy good ones for her, but almost all yogurts sold in Hong Kong are expensive. They’re also often imported and therefore not fresh, and can contain lots of sugar and other artificial ingredients.
I owned another startup company previously, and one day my wife asked, “Can’t you make a device that makes yogurt automatically?” I thought that there must have been so many in the market already, but when I googled and checked on Amazon I found that there were no fully automatic yogurt makers in the market.
I decided to team up with my friend Tu Hien Le, and together we are developing and launching Yomee.
Why did you choose Tu-Hien to be your co-founder?
Ashok: I have known Tu-Hien since 2012 when her and her husband were working in the financial industry in Hong Kong. Both of our families shared a love for fun and food. She left to move back to the US to build a consumer product startup and that successfully launched summer of 2016. With the US being the largest and fastest growing yogurt market, I wanted to launch Yomee in the U.S. With Tu-Hien’s marketing and business development experience from her previous startup, I knew she would be a great fit for the company. Not to mention her and her daughter are avid and adventurous yogurt eaters having tried almost every brand that can be found at local grocery stores.
Why did Tu-Hien decide to join you?
Tu: I wanted to join Ashok because I believe in his vision of how Yomee combines both technology and food innovation to bring fresh healthy foods to as many people as possible. Yomee is not just making fresh yogurt, but creating that happy and healthy lifestyle we all seek.
Was it a difficult decision to launch a startup?
Ashok and Tu: It’s always risky building something from scratch. There are so many hurdles to overcome and many excuses you can make to not try. But in life, big risks means big rewards. Because we both believe in Yomee’s potential and how we could impact people’s lifestyle positively, we knew we had to make a real effort to bring Yomee to market. With both of our ingenuity, creativity, determination, and resourcefulness, we are confident Yomee will make a great positive impact in people’s lives.
How did you raised the initial US $200,000 seed round?
Ashok and Tu: We were accepted into Food-X, the #1 food innovation accelerator in the world based out of New York. From there we were able to make the right connections in the food space to raise outside capital. On August 29th we plan on launching a crowdfunding campaign for Yomee on Kickstarter so supporters can place early pre-orders. From there we will be able to start mass production.
How would you compare store bought vs. fresh made yogurt?
Ashok and Tu: We often consume yogurt bought in the small 6oz containers from the grocery stores for its nutritional value and convenience. However if you look a little closer at the label, you can often find store bought yogurts are loaded with sugars to increase shelf life along with having artificial additives for flavor and texture. Something people do not realize is that store bought yogurts may not even contain the live active cultures that improve digestion and gut health. Finally, popular yogurt brands found in Hong Kong are often times imported from overseas so are also more expensive.
Most notably, fresh yogurt can improve gut health with active cultures. The live cultures in fresh yogurt can help “reprogram” your current bacteria present in your digestive system to enhance digestion and immune system. Additionally, making fresh yogurt allows control of ingredients. When making your own fresh yogurt, you are able to adjust sweetness levels and also create fruit combinations of your choice to make the perfect mix just for you. Finally, fresh yogurt advocates a greener solution. In fact, making your own yogurt from home gives you an opportunity to reduce plastic waste that comes with the individual packaged yogurt containers and the energy it takes to ship and cool the food from the factory to the grocery stores.
How does Yomee address the discrepancy between store bought vs. fresh yogurt?
Ashok and Tu: Yomee combines the convenience of store bought yogurt with the health benefits of fresh yogurt. With a new smart pod-based a fully automatic yogurt maker, you can now make delicious and healthy yogurt to your taste conveniently at home. Yomee takes up less space than a coffee maker and has a smaller footprint than a blender on your kitchen countertop. Intelligently designed, Yomee is nearly silent and is a breeze to use with the free Yomee smartphone app.
How does Yomee work?
Ashok and Tu: We understand people in Hong Kong have very busy lifestyle so we made Yomee really simple to use.
To make yogurt, you choose the milk you like, pour it into the yomee cup, insert the yomee pod that comes in 4 flavours – plain, vanilla, strawberry or blueberry, hit start, and 6 hours later you will have fresh, chilled yogurt ready to eat. Yomee is also designed to enjoy your yogurt on-the-go with no set-up or clean-up required.
How is Yomee different from other yogurt maker and brands?
At Yomee, we are not just a food tech company but a healthy way of life. We combine technology with food innovation to bring people back to the natural way of eating, not processed and store bought but fresh and homemade. Yomee encourages a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Why did you choose Hong Kong?
Ashok: Hong Kong is one of the best cities for a FoodTech startup. On one hand, it provides access to progressive consumers who are willing to try new brands, trends, technologies and food. On the other hand, Hong Kong provides talent and proximity for manufacturing in China, including an established based for dairy products exported to China.
Where can we get Yomee?
Ashok and Tu: You can sign up for our VIP list on our Yomee website to get notified when we begin pre-orders. In the meantime, we share exciting healthy lifestyle tips and recipes on our newly launched blog.