Although Chinese people are proud of their rich food heritage, the trend of fast food startups is quickly taking on among the country’s busy working professionals and millennials. AllChinaTech has picked out the top five fast food startups in China to demonstrate how these new businesses are wooing customers to try out these Chinese food of web celeb status.
Huangtaiji – Chinese crepe jianbing
Founded in: 2012
Financing status: tens of million in RMB (several million in USD) in April 2016
Huangtaiji is the first fast food chain that used the Internet to market its brand. Huangtaiji makes and sells a crepe-like Chinese street food called jianbing. It sells jianbing, soybean milk and tofu just like how KFC sells its fried chicken and coke.
The chain name “Huangtaiji” means “extremely lucky” in Mandarin, and the name did bring the startup luck as it received tens of million in RMB (or several million in USD) investment from China’s leading food delivery platform Ele.me in April last year.
Over the past four years, the Beijing-headquartered startup has established dozens of stores in Beijing and Shanghai. In June 2016, the first overseas outlet was opened in Sydney.
Xishaoye roujiamo (or Chinese hamburger)
Founded in: 2014
Financing status: USD 11.5 million in December 2016
This fast food chain sold a record 200,000 hamburger-like roujiamo in just 100 days, shortly after the startup opened its first Beijing restaurant in April 2014.
The startup’s founder, Meng Bing, was an engineer at tech giants Tencent and Baidu before he resigned to start this food startup. Meng uses the Internet to standardize and manage the food and supply chains.
A list of celebrities including real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi and Xiaomi founder Lei Jun visited Xishaoye Roujiamo stores to support this startup. So far, this chain has opened 14 restaurants and one store catering to online orders in Beijing.
Fmeimei – Bento vending machines
Founded in: 2015
Financing status: RMB 50 million (USD 7.6 million) financing in July 2016
Fmeimei has bento vending machines in office buildings, metro stations, and airports.
Fmeimei has its own kitchen to prepare the food before sending them to vending machines located across the city. Customers can select their bento sets and pay via their smartphones before the machine heats up the food.
The next phase will involve launching 3,000 machines in the next few years, and reaching its future daily sales target of 300,000 bentos.
Xiao Heng Dumplings
Founded in: 2014
Financing status: RMB 50 million (USD 7.6 million) in February 2016
Beijing-based Xiao Heng provides dumplings via online and offline channels. It aims to build a famous fast food dumpling brand by operating both its own brick-and-mortar stores and online delivery business.
Xiao Heng’s latest financing comes from a string of investors including ZhenFund which was founded by China’s famous investment guru Xu Xiaoping.
The company’s slogan is “it’s fashionable to eat dumplings”, and it wants to provide this traditional Chinese food via their online platform to a huge group of smartphone-savvy millennials.
Yujian Xiaomian – Sichuan style noodles
Founded in: 2014
Financing status: RMB 25 million (USD 3.8 million) in November 2016
The fast food chain sells Sichuan style noodles that originated from southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing – home to China’s hotspot.
Xiaomian is one of the few Chinese food suitable as a fast food, as it does not involve a lot of stir frying or complicated cooking procedures. Yujian Xiaomian opens stores mainly in central business districts and shopping malls.
The startup has opened 10 franchises in Guangzhou, and it is planning to launch 50 chains over the next three years.
In terms of taste, I would rank these four food chains in Beijing in the following order: Xiao Heng Dumplings, Xishaoye Roujiamo, Fmeimei, and Huangtaiji. Which one is your favourite?
(Top photo from Pixabay.com)