Consumer tastes are constantly changing, but one thing is certain: people are looking for healthier food options, including their favorite comfort foods.
Ramen is often a staple of the pantry, jokingly known as the favorite food of students and young entrepreneurs, but the market potential is huge: the market value of the global instant noodle industry in 2020 was nearly $46 billion and is expected to be about $66 billion by the end of 2027.
That’s true immi comes in. Two years ago, we profiled the company as it raised $3.8 million in seed funding. Kevin Lee and Kevin Chanthasiriphan started the company to carve out a niche in this large market and introduce a plant-based version of instant ramen that is also lower in carbs and higher in protein.
“We’ve still been stubborn, really focused on the ramen space,” Lee said in an interview. “We’ve seen some new people enter the ramen space, but there are still no competitors in that low-carb, high-protein, plant-based value prop territory. We continue to maintain that lead and have an evergreen opportunity to address, especially in retail.”
Online demand for immi’s products hasn’t slowed down either, which is partly why Lee and Chanthasiriphan are eager to embark on the next phase of their business.
Today, immi still has its three original vegetable flavours: Spicy “Beef”, Tom Yum “Shrimp”, and Black Garlic “Chicken”. However, a new round of $10 million in Series A funding puts the company on track to unveil nine additional flavors, round out the executive team and expand its reach to retailers nationwide.
Touch Capital led the recently closed round and was joined by a bevy of celebrity investors, including Naomi Osaka, Usher, Apolo Ohno, David Grutman, Kygo’s Palm Tree Crew and Gryffin. Immi has now raised about $15 million in total funding, with Lee disclosing that the valuation was raised “by a good amount” during the launch round.
Other investors participating in Series A include Siddhi Capital, Gold House Ventures, Anti VC, Harizury, Lab Capital Advisors, CAA’s Co-Head of Basketball, Lynja, Lauren Kleinman (Dreamday, The Quality Edit), Theresa Kang (Blue Marble Pictures ), and the CEOs or co-founders of Fly By Jing, Bokksu, Boba Guys, LMNT, OWYN, Hero Cosmetics, Supply, Rumble Boxing, Worlds, Venice Music, Adgile Media Group, and Hyphen Capital.
Immi grew sales more than six times year over year and sold out seven times since 2021, launching in 2022 in retailers including Whole Foods, Wegmans and The Fresh Market. According to the founders, there are even more locations available to open this year.
By 2021, the company had its own tasting community of about 4,000 people and that number has grown to 6,000. In addition to taste, the community gives the founders direct feedback on which retailers they would like to see immi launch next. Lee said this is valuable information that often helps the company better market itself to retailers by proving the size of a future customer base.
Following that rapid growth, the company began to receive some inbound investor attention in the third quarter of 2022, from both existing and new investors, Lee said.
“We wanted to raise this $10 million because there were so many opportunities ahead to build our team, improve the product and then launch it in more stores, especially after seeing some of the early Whole Foods data,” Lee added. “We had excellent speed out of the gate due to our direct-to-consumer audience and retail demand for people to come across our bright yellow packaging.”
As mentioned, part of the new capital will be invested in product development research. While Chanthasiriphan didn’t hint at what any of the nine new flavors would be — immi specializes in less commonly available flavors — he did say it will be a mix of permanent, temporary, and co-branded partnership flavors with influencers. , celebrities and movie studios.
On top of that are another 12 flavors that the company is just now “messing around” with to see which immi should prioritize. It also explores other products beyond windows.
“There are a lot of unique partnership opportunities to launch that,” Chanthasiriphan said in an interview. “We also have noodle improvements in the pipeline in terms of texture, cooking times for the noodles, and sizes, such as cups.”