Omsom is taking Asian food mainstream as demand grows for ethnic packaged food

Asian food startup Omsom is setting its sights on the growing ethnic packaged food market.

Similar to how Cava (CAVA) and Chipotle (CMG) popularized Mediterranean and Mexican food on their way to becoming multibillion-dollar enterprises, Omsom aims to win America over with its Asian cooking sauces and packaged spicy noodles.

"The white space we found was that Asian American stories and flavors are taking America by storm," Omsom co-founder and CEO Vanessa Pham told Yahoo Finance for the season two premiere of Lead This Way. "But when you walk into the mainstream grocery store, and you look at the shelf, it is not ... up to par with what you're seeing in restaurants and even in movie theaters."

"As a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, I think I was on a safe path. I just wanted to do right by my parents' sacrifices and refugee journey," Pham said. She was leaning into the idea of "de-risking" but felt like she wasn't honoring her potential.

By 2019, the two sisters quit their jobs to work full-time on Omsom, bootstrapping the business for the first year.

"I was 24, Kim was 26, ... we really did not have anything to work with as far as funds. We put everything we had into the business," Pham said.

To supercharge their vision of a "proud and loud" Asian food brand, the Phams applied to the Mars SEEDS of CHANGE Accelerator and were the only pre-launch business to be a part of the program. They received a $50,000 equity-free grant to start, and the process helped connect them with others who were eager to support the brand.

Their current investors include Jen Rubio, founder of luggage company Away; Shan-Lyn Ma, founder of wedding platform Zola; Jared Smith, founder of RXBar; and VC founder Elly Truesdell of New Fare Partners.

As of March 2024, the pair, who first launched their products during the start of the pandemic in May 2020, have sold more than 4 million products in over 2,000 stores. Their products can be found in the aisles of Whole Foods (AMZN), Target (TGT), and Sprouts (SFM).


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