The direct-to-consumer Chinese food startup partners with Imaginary Ventures; debuts Chinese noodle kits, including new plant-based options in collaboration with Impossible Foods
SEATTLE, Oct. 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Growing direct-to-consumer Chinese food brand Xiao Chi Jie (XCJ) ? founded by second generation Chinese Americans Jennifer Liao and Caleb Wang ? has raised $10 million in their Series A financing round led by Imaginary Ventures, joining actor Simu Liu, Goldhouse Ventures, and Hyphen Capital along with founders Colin McCabe (Chopt), Jason Wang (Caviar), Gabi Lewis (Magic Spoon), Katrina Lake (Stitch Fix), Scott Cutler (StockX), Shan-lyn Ma (Zola), and more. The startup ships restaurant-quality soup dumplings and Chinese BBQ skewers nationwide, and today debuts new noodle kits which include a plant-based option developed in collaboration with Impossible Foods, featuring the brand's Impossibletm Pork product.
Liao and Wang started XCJ in 2018 as a restaurant passion project after years of frustrating searches for honest representations of their favorite Chinese street food specialties stateside. The Seattle-based fast casual concept flourished, but the pandemic forced them to innovate; instead of serving hot takeout meals, they started freezing batches of handmade soup dumplings and making local deliveries. Word (and demand) spread like wildfire, and when they started receiving inquiries about national shipping, the founders had their lightbulb moment. They officially launched XCJ as a direct-to-consumer company in late 2020, and have since sent over ten million soup dumplings to home kitchens across the country.
"Despite its prevalence in the U.S., Chinese cuisine is woefully underrepresented ? especially in the CPG space," says Liao. "We're excited to partner with Imaginary to change that and continue sharing the diversity and rich depth of the food that we grew up loving."
IMAGINARY invests in iconic, generationally defining brands and the technology businesses that empower them.
"When you break down the $50BN Chinese food market category, it's evident there is a powerful and accelerating consumer demand," says Logan Langberg, Partner at Imaginary Ventures. "While the category is massive, it's in large part comprised solely of restaurants. What's missing from the market is a CPG brand that is an honest representation of Chinese food with the ability to dominate online, wholesale and food service to become a staple in American households. We believe XCJ is that. Excellent quality products, technical founders, vertical integration capabilities and 300% growth just this year further underscore that belief, and we are beyond excited to partner with them."
As trend reports continue to point to the explosive popularity of Asian cuisine in the U.S., XCJ is in a position to supply an increasing demand for consumer food brands that both thoughtfully represent their offerings and are run by diverse founders. The brand's current lineup includes restaurant-quality xiao long bao (soup dumplings); bamboo steamers; sauces (including chili crisp); sh?o k?o (Chinese BBQ skewers); and ice creams. Today, that lineup will grow to include various noodle kits inspired by different regions of China: Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles, Beijing Zha Jiang Noodles, and Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodles. The first two will have the option of making the dish plant-based (a rarity in the Chinese food landscape) by substituting Impossibletm Pork.
With this funding round, the two-year-old DTC company will continue to focus on high-quality products and customer experience, lean into cultural experiences and education, and explore paths to increase accessibility. XCJ will also rebrand in 2023 to reflect their continued expansion because, as Liao notes, "we want a new name that can continue to grow with us as we invite more people to learn about our food and culture."
For more information about XCJ and to order your first delivery, visit www.thexcj.com.
Growing direct-to-consumer Chinese food company Xiao Chi Jie (XCJ) was founded in 2020 by second-generation Chinese Americans Caleb Wang and Jennifer Liao, who are on a mission to share honest representations of the food they grew up eating and open consumers' minds and palates to new and exciting flavors, textures and aromas. Available nationwide, XCJ's product line includes restaurant-quality soup dumplings, Chinese BBQ skewers, sauces, bamboo steamers, ice creams, and now, noodle kits inspired by different regions of China. For more information, visit www.thexcj.com.
In 2018, Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown launched Imaginary Ventures to invest in the tech-enabled brands and platforms that are changing the way we live by providing best-in-class products and experiences. IMAGINARY is a dynamic ecosystem of brands, forging meaningful partnerships and fostering symbiotic relationships within their portfolio, going beyond capital to provide strategic and operational support to drive profitable businesses with staying power. The firm is headquartered in New York and currently has over $1 Billion under management.
SOURCE Xiao Chi Jie
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