Japan’s Base Food raises $880K seed funding to sell nutritionally complete pasta...

Japan’s Base Food raises $880K seed funding to sell nutritionally complete pasta in US

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CEO Shun Hashimoto (third person from left) and his co-founders / colleagues at Base Food
Image credit: Base Food

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Base Food, developing a nutritionally complete food product capable of becoming a staple food named Base Pasta, in late October announced it had raised 100 million yen (about $880,000) from Japanese VC firm Global Brain in its seed round. With this money, Base Food is going to prepare overseas expansion mainly targeting the U.S., to diversify their product range, as well as to create a community for repeat customers and to increase staffers for it.

Base Food is the food-tech startup founded in April of 2016 by Shun Hashimoto, formerly engaged in the autonomous driving business at DeNA and other activities. Most of its members are around thirty and with background in Internet ventures, and it is interesting that these members established a food product manufacturer. The firm started developing the product in July of said year and successively conducted a crowdfunding campaign in November. This year, it launched Base Pasta and commenced full-scale sales with the regular purchase model in February.

Package of Base Pasta
Image credit Base Food

As the number of people who are increasingly conscious about their health grows, Base Pasta targets those who do not know which nutrients to take, as a complete nutritious food allowing intake of 31 kinds of nutrients just in a single meal. Unlike other complete foods such as Soylent or Comp, Base Pasta does not only have functional immediacy, but also provides satisfaction with its delicious taste and can become a staple food. Hashimoto commented on the concept of Base Pasta.

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Hashimoto explained:

The idea of nutritiously complete foods like Soylent are excellent, but it may be difficult for some people to adopt because they are forced to change their eating habits into drink-based ones. I thought that improving conventional food itself would be better than serving something new.

The purpose of a meal is to take in nutrients, in addition to having a close relationship with others or to enable change in mental pace. At the Peperosso Italian restaurant in Setagaya, Tokyo Peperosso or the Odorumen Akira food truck, menus with Base Pasta have been already served.

Asked about its taste, they quickly cooked it in the office kitchen. Photo shows one with tomato sauce.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

 

Although Base Pasta can be easily cooked with separately sold sauces, the firm is expending efforts to create recipes which offer higher levels of nutrition and satisfaction with support from many nutritionists and restaurants. Alex Ramirez, the manager of the professional baseball team DeNA Baystars, recommends Base Pasta to players who need to be aware of nutritional management while having tight schedules. Hashimoto noted about the business plan:

As gradually becoming recognized by the market while only a year having passed since foundation, the business balance is going into the black on a single month basis. Our speed of execution is highly evaluated by investors with this fundraising. I think the secured money can be used for future business positively without producing deficits.

To the US, the complete food’s birthplace

Base Food is going to advance into the US later this year and throughout next year. The firm expects Amazon or D2C (direct to consumer) with regular purchase model as its distribution channel as in Japan. Hashimoto thinks it is significantly meaningful to venture into the home of health consciousness since D2C has an affinity for healthcare.

Well, why was such a complete nutritious food with a good taste capable of being staple food born in Japan, not in the US?

Hashimoto said:

Yes, what we are doing may be “Columbus’s egg”. It is what anybody can do once heard the idea, but few people hit the idea and further few people actually do.

I think the reason why no product capable of being staple food exists in the US where complete nutritious food was first created is because they tended to focus on the increase of drink-style variation as seen in organic Soylent. Additionally, the idea of making staple food healthy may be easy for the Japanese to come up with. Well, the Japanese love tasty food.

Sometimes startups face language or culture barriers in overseas countries in their international development, but the Base Food team shows great eagerness to target global market with food. Following Kombucha which attracted New Yorker’s attention or Oi Ocha Tea which is favored in Silicon Valley, can Base Pasta penetrate into the new market as a health-conscious food from Japan.

 The Base Food team with investors from Global Brain. Global Brain has recently been focusing on food tech.
Image credit: Base Food

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy