EASY COOK ASIA: Asian cook boxes for home cooking
What is Easy Cook Asia doing?
Travel to Asia from home with our cook box!
We deliver 12 different Asian country cook boxes once a month packed with ingredients, recipes, and stories to make Asian home cooking an easy, accessible, and authentic experience.
We’re launching a yearlong subscription plan featuring cook boxes of a different Asian country each month. Each box has ingredients for 3 popular dishes of the featured country, easy-to-follow recipe cards, and a storybook about that country’s dining culture.
Each subscriber receives a “passport” issued by EASY COOK ASIA and a monthly “boarding pass” to the featured country. Collect all 12 boarding passes and a passport to receive a special cook box and win a real boarding pass to Asia on the 13th month.
How did you get the idea of Easy Cook Asia?
When I moved to Berlin two years ago, I would visit Asian supermarkets and notice customers struggling to find the right ingredients because the labels on the products are often written in several different languages.
One of the customers there asked me, “I want to cook curry and this is a curry paste, but where do I find the coconut milk?” Bang! I got an idea: “What if I bundled the different ingredients of Asian dishes together with recipes and interesting stories?” From then on, I formed a team called Easy Cook Asia with Cheng-En, Yuri and Pinch to deliver an easy and authentic experience when it comes to shopping and cooking Asian food at home.
Why did you decide to start with Easy Cook Asia?
As I’d mentioned earlier, we often saw how customers at Asian supermarkets tend to struggle with the ingredients and were convinced that this is a problem worth solving. Initially, we thought we’d open an Asian supermarket that functions like Kochhaus, where you can buy ingredients that have been bundled together to prepare specific dishes. We eventually decided to introduce authentic Asian cook boxes in order to build a scalable business. Thanks to the popularity of HelloFresh, many of our customers are already familiar with cook boxes so we haven’t had to spend too much time explaining the concept to them.
What is the vision behind Easy Cook Asia?
We want to enable our customers to experience authentic Asian dining culture without leaving their homes.
How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?
We are all first-time founders who had relocated here from Asia a few years ago, so you could imagine how many challenges we’ve encountered so far. For instance, we had an idea but we didn’t have the capital to get started. German bureaucracy has also presented its own challenges, especially when it comes to food regulations, and we lack manpower since we’re a small team.
Things took a positive turn after we took part in the Make It Lean Contest, a startup competition hosted by Startup Incubator Berlin (SIB) and sponsored by Siemens. There, we scooped up two awards and ran a successful crowdfunding campaign. This led us to work in the Startup Incubator Berlin and we’re now part of the Berlin Startup Stipendium (BSS), where we’ve received professional coaching and learnt many things from our peers in the SIB community.
With regards to food safety, the IHK hygiene team has been fast and supportive in responding to our many questions. We’re now also under the mentorship of the EDEKA Food Tech Campus regarding food regulations and are building a strategy to enter the German market.
Who is your target audience?
Our main target customers are those who have an appetite for Asian food & culture and would like to learn more about it and be able to cook these dishes at home. They tend to either struggle with finding the right ingredients and/or buy regular quantities of ingredients, only to use a little and have the rest go to waste.
What is the USP of your startup?
We’re different from other companies that specialize in meal kit deliveries, in the sense that we see cooking as a way to experience other cultures. This is why we offer more than just efficiency, taste, and price in our product and service. We aim to deliver authentic Asian culinary experiences to our customers’ home kitchens, enriched with stories about Asian food and culture so that they can not only enjoy the cuisine of a country, but have stories about it to share with their loved ones over the dinner table.
Can you describe your typical workday?
I normally take my kids to kindergarten in the morning and then go to the Startup Incubator space located in Spandau. Our team meets at the incubator every Monday for our weekly team meeting but on other days, we’re flexible in terms of where we work.
These days, we’re very busy meeting and connecting with the various Asian communities here in Berlin in order to develop the respective country boxes and to prepare for the launch of our subscription.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Easy Cook Asia in five years?
In five years, I will be over 40 years old and my kids will be teenagers. I personally believe I don’t need any “work-life balance” because for me, Easy Cook Asia is a part of my life and my life is a part of Easy Cook Asia.
I hope to be in San Francisco or Amsterdam as our business expands to the U.S. and to the rest of Europe but no matter where the company will be, I will move with it and take my family with me.
What 3 tips would you give to founders?
1. Done is better than perfect! I want to share what Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
2. Please ask for help! Yes, it’s hard and I’m not good at it either. But you might be surprised to find that many people would love to help you — all you need to do is ask.
3. Work together! No one is perfect and each person has different talents, which is why we need to collaborate by bringing our strengths together. I strongly recommend every founder to form a team to accomplish bigger things together.
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