SAN FRANCISCO, April 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — While restaurants and small businesses everywhere have struggled to survive the pandemic, U.S.-based food tech startup Yo-Kai Express (YKE) has leveraged its technology and ideas to evolve and transform its business models to broader platforms. An innovator that featured at CES this year, YKE made its first splash in 2018 with a robotic ramen vending machine that served just a few options. Since that time, the firm has successfully built out several partnerships and platforms with major food corporations on multiple continents and is even collaborating now with celebrity chefs.
Scrum Ventures’ Food Tech Studio – Bites! (FTS-B!), an open innovation program that connects global startups with Japan’s leading food manufacturers, has recognized YKE as a stand out among the participants. This resulted in a series of business matching meetings with program partners such as JR East, Japan’s largest railway company, and led to YKE Japan’s new Tokyo headquarters plan. The new office will be located at K, D, C,,, a JR East facility developed as a food tech coworking space with shared concept kitchens and dining hall demo workspaces. Other program partnerships have introduced innovative materials to YKE so it can debut new vegan menu items.
“We’re excited not only to grow during these challenging times but to find so many outstanding business partners through Food Tech Studio – Bites! who share our vision of creating a unique Yo-Kai ecosystem,” said company founder and CEO Andy Lin. “We’re honored to be the first U.S. food tech company at K,D,C,,, and pleased to be uniting small businesses with large corporations in Japan as well as help modernize dining habits, save resources and reduce food waste with our platform.”
More than just food lockers that warm noodles, Yo-Kai’s devices are already incorporating co-branded items with celebrated Michelin-recommended ramen restaurants such as Bigiyi, Ivan Ramen, Ramen Nakamura, Menya Jiro and MokBar. Its technology handles the last-mile cooking of both hot or cold, savory or sweet dishes and bowls. It now boasts a growing list of over 20 menu items, including Taiwanese beef noodle soup, Vietnamese pho, gyu donburi, chicken teriyaki and even desserts such as vegan brownie, tiramisu and a matcha mousse bombe. New this summer: milk tea shave ice topped with boba and Himalyan salt whipped cream.
YKE’s vending machine got a popular reception two years ago at Lake Tahoe’s Squaw ski resort and can also be found in some Marriott hotels, Ontario International Airport, several U.S. university dining halls and on major Silicon Valley corporate campuses. YKE already has one machine in Taiwan, and an established presence in California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. It’s preparing for further expansion soon in the Seattle, NY and Boston areas. The firm also has its sights set on including non-Asian cuisine in the future.
During the pandemic, YKE pivoted to develop mail-order meal kits, and its two newer platforms—the Yatai, a fully autonomous mobile unit, and the Takumi, a food subscription-based, single-button home appliance, build on the trends of contactless food delivery and the rise of gourmet ghost kitchens.
About Yo-Kai Express
Yo-Kai Express (YKE) is a rapidly growing global food tech startup with offices in Northern California and Tokyo. YKE is redefining gourmet autonomous restaurant solutions using technology it developed to perform last-mile cooking of an array of both hot and cold, savory and sweet menu selections. YKE first launched a vending machine platform, built for high-traffic areas such as airports and ski resorts, in 2018, offering items as steaming hot bowls of tonkotsu ramen 24 hours a day and in under a minute.
For more information, visit www.yokaiexpress.com/about.
About Food Tech Studio-Bites!
Food Tech Studio – Bites! is an open innovation program that connects best-in-class startups from around the world with Japan’s leading food manufacturers to support the creation of new products and services. It helps them realize top-line growth opportunities in Japan, the U.S. and beyond––while also facilitating lasting relationships that enable the food value chain to flourish and be more sustainable. It selected 85 startup participants and has arranged over 200 business matching meetings to date.
About K,D, C,,,
Short for “Kimchi, Durian, and Cardamom,” K,D,C,,, is Tokyo’s newest experimental food lab and gathering site developed by JR East, Japan’s largest railway company. Located atop JR East’s Shin-Okubo Station, a trendy area for young shoppers and diners, this is a venue for creators and entrepreneurs. Here, they test out and exchange new culinary ideas, propose “new food cultures” and “new lifestyles through food,” enjoy, and innovate.
SOURCE Yo-Kai Express