The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas

Interview of Supporter Stores EasyCookAsia

Foodtech startup offering food and the culture of Asian countries and collaborating with Japanese companies

Berlin / Germany

Motives for starting business

EasyCookAsia is an e-commerce website selling Asian meal kits founded by CEO Minchul Lee in 2019. Having won in two major startup competitions in Germany, this startup has been attracting attention. It has also been successful in crowdfunding.

When he first arrived in Berlin in 2017, he was surprised by the number of Asian supermarket stores and consumers in Berlin. However, he realized that many users of those stores did not know how to properly cook Asian ingredients and founded EasyCookAsia wishing that people will know more about the culture of Asian countries through its cuisine. Lee's business philosophy of “selling culture, not food” is derived from this experience.

Later, he studied the business model with the help of the Startup Incubator Berlin, which is supported by the European Social Fund. The current 11 staff members are all from Asia, including one Japanese. The company has three offices: a warehouse/office and a co-working space in Berlin, and a specialized IT office in Taiwan. Along with its own e-commerce site, the company operates a store on Amazon Germany, and sales growth on Amazon has been particularly remarkable.

Focus on marketing

At the inception, the company’s marketing plan did not work well, and branding and target customer base had not been established. The company has strengthened its marketing efforts and is now able to effectively utilize the customer data. Germans account for 90% of the customers and the remaining 10% are foreigners living in Europe. Because Germans are highly sensitive to environmental issues, the company uses sustainable materials for packaging instead of plastic. “When selling food products in Europe, manufacturers must be sensitive to packaging and labels. It is very important to use less plastic and more paper,” Lee stresses based on his own experience.

Items full of new ideas

EasyCookAsia offers a wide variety of Asian meal kits, including oyakodon (chicken and egg on rice), rice balls, karaage (deep-fried chicken), pork cutlet curry and rice, dumplings on skewers, bibimbap, and butter-flavored chicken curry. Popular Japanese products include Baumkuchen and Kirin beer. The company's current focus is developing the “Travel Box” meal kit series themed on food and travel. The series currently includes the Seoul Travel Box, the Bangkok Combo Box, and the Japan Picnic Box. A Travel Box includes a well-designed travel guide, recipe book, passport and boarding pass, and gifts such as vouchers. The aim of developing the Travel Box series is to make buyers to become interested both in food and culture of the country and city, and actually visit the country in the future.

Future prospects

As for Japan, the company plans to release Travel Boxes of Tokyo, Osaka, and Hiroshima. “Sales of the Seoul Travel Box have been strong thanks to the collaboration with K-POP, which is popular in Europe. We plan to leverage our experience we have cultivated to launch the Japan Manga Box as a Japanese Travel Box. We are considering collaborating with popular Japanese manga and anime and incorporating menus inspired by the main character's dining scenes,” Lee said. Lee added, "Before the pandemic, we launched promotion in collaboration with the Japan Airlines. We are planning to add a travel guide in our upcoming Japan Travel Box and hope to promote travel to Japan through Japanese cuisine.”