This startup is bringing “Michelin star” meals to Chinese homes

Walking in the streets of China’s “Silicon Valley”, Beijing’s Zhongguancun hi-tech hub, big tech names like Youku and Microsoft keep your eyes busy. Besides these big companies, there are also numerous startups contributing to the high-tech scene, who could potentially change our way of living.

But these startups need to solve many challenges to land investment and grow bigger. For them, joining a startup contest can be one way to get money and attention.

In the cozy basement of a building in Zhongguancun, a group of energetic young entrepreneurs, investors and volunteers gathered at Slush Inception, a smaller-scale Chinese version of the startup event from Finland, last Thursday.

Slush Inception. Photo provided by Slush China.

Nise Tech was the final winner after six entrepreneurs presented their ideas.

Founded in 2015 in Beijing, Nise Tech aims to provide a one-stop dietary solution for individuals based on smart hardware. The company uses a smart cooking device, a mobile app and a food delivery system to offer customers a personalized eating experience at a low price.

The company landed RMB 10 million (USD 1.54 million) in a Pre-A series financing round last April. This round of fundraising was led by Walden International Capital, which also invested in drone maker DJI Technology and action camera maker Gopro.

How did Nise Tech start?

Grant Hu, the CEO of Nise Tech, has lived in Canada for 17 years. In 2014 he quit his job and returned to China to build his own startup in a hardware incubator in Zhongguancun.

Before Nise Tech, Hu founded an American hardware investment fund and worked as the country director of Nexus China.

Hu is a foodie and crazy about cooking. When he found out that a new western-style restaurant in Hong Kong was cooking grouper using the sous-vide method, he flew there to try it and returned home the next day. He also flew to Lanzhou just for a taste of the authentic Lanzhou handmade noodles.

Hu usually cooks a table of delicious of food for his family on the weekends when he is free.

Grant Hu, the CEO of Nise Tech. Photo provided by Nise Tech.

But Hu has been wondering why commercial kitchens can cook professional-quality dishes while home cooks cannot.

Later, an idea burst into his mind. He wanted to turn professional equipment in restaurant kitchens into smart cookers for individual homes.   

“We aim to help people cook healthy food at home quickly. We want them to feel like they are eating at Michelin-starred restaurants,” Hu told AllChinaTech.

Last December, Nise Tech launched its product, the Sous Vide Pro.

What is the Sous Vide Pro?

Sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in plastic bags and cooked in a temperature-controlled water bath.

The Sous Vide Pro is a smartphone-connected cooking wand that controls temperature and circulates the water in a water bath to ensure precise sous-vide cooking.

People can use their mobile phones to get information about the ingredients and cooking process by scanning QR codes.

In addition, people can buy ready-to-cook ingredients directly, using an app.

“We are working with many food manufacturers to provide various fresh ingredients to our users,” Hu said.

“Young people are under so much pressure from work that they usually eat outside or order takeout, which could pose many potential nutrition and health hazards, and our smart products and services can help them cook healthy food at home quickly, ” he added.

Sous Vide Pro. Photo provided by Nise Tech.

Last December, Nise Tech launched a crowdfunding campaign for this product and in only two hours, RMB 2,000,000 (USD 308,000) was paid by supporters.

“We have about 1,000 users right now,” Hu said.

Nise Tech also has developed various cookers targeting the high-end consumer crowd who are interested in smart kitchen products.

What’s next?

Nise Tech aims to work with smart phones, smart bands and smart scale manufacturers in the near future.

“We will customize better dietary solutions for individual customers based on data about their physical conditions and exercise regimes, ” Hu said.                         

Right now, the company is mainly targeting small business market and individual homes.

“We will provide products and services for about 3000 coffee shops, fitness centers and boutique hotels with smart cookers, smart apps, food delivery and personalized cooking methods,” Hu added.

The company is planning its Series A financing round.

(Top photo provided by Nise Tech.)

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