Direct-to-consumer Chinese food raises $10 million | So Good News
SEATTLE – Chinese startup Xiao Chi Jie has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Imaginary Ventures. The former delivers chilled soup dumplings, Chinese barbecue skewers and seafood dishes nationwide.
Second generation Chinese Americans Jennifer Liao and Caleb Wang founded the company as an entertainment food concept four years ago. At the beginning of the pandemic, the two started freezing and delivering jars of soup locally and soon received inquiries about shipping internationally. In late 2020, the founders repositioned the business as a direct-to-consumer grocery brand, shipping more than 10 million items to homes across the country.
The latest addition to the product line is three vegetable coolers, including a seed processing system developed in partnership with Impossible Foods. Offerings include Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles, Beijing Zha Jiang Noodles and Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodles.
“Despite its spread in the US, Chinese cuisine, and the magic and skill of local culinary traditions, is very sad – especially in the shopping area,” said Ms. Liao. “We’re excited to partner with Imaginary to change that and continue to share the variety and depth of food we’ve grown.”
Xiao Chi Jie, which translates to “street food method,” will use the funds to “focus on high-quality products and customer experience, lean on culture and education, and explore ways to increase availability.” In addition, the founder plans to renovate next year to show its growth in groups and new dishes, Ms. Liao said, “we want a new name that can continue to grow with us as we invite more people to learn about our food and culture.”
Imaginary Ventures, based in New York, invests in technology-enabled products and platforms.
“When you break down the category of China’s $50 billion grocery market, it’s clear that there is strong and urgent consumer demand,” said Logan Langberg, partner at Imaginary Ventures. “Although the group is large, a large part is made up of restaurants themselves. What is missing in the market is a CPG model that represents the truth of authentic Chinese food that can dominate the Internet, sell and eat to become a staple of American families. We believe that XCJ and that’s it. Great products, innovative technology, direct integration capabilities and 300% growth this year reaffirm that belief, and we’re excited to partner with them.”
Investors include Simu Liu, Goldhouse Ventures and Hyphen Capital, as well as consumer product startups Jason Wang, Gabi Lewis, Katrina Lake, Scott Cutler, Shan-lyn Ma, Colin McCabe and others.