Indian startup eyes foray into Japanese lunch box market

NEW DELHI, NNA - An Indian startup that manufactures "smart" lunch boxes is looking to enter the Japanese market by the end of July as part of its overseas expansion plan to exploit largely untapped market opportunities in this home ware product category.

"We will be launching our specially designed lunch boxes in Japan in the next two to three months, targeting both the school and office segments as we see huge opportunities for our products in the Japanese market," Vashist Vasanthakumar, founder of Vaya Life Pvt. Ltd., told NNA in an interview.

The startup, incorporated last year, is involved in redesigning and re-engineering of mundane home products like lunch boxes into smart products with new features which it claims help keep the food fresh and hot for a longer period of time.

The company says it is betting big on the modern looks and features of its lunch boxes, which are different from others, to gain traction in various markets, including Japan.

"While the designs and features of many home products have changed over the years, the lunch box hasn't changed at all. We are offering newly designed lunch boxes," said Vasanthakumar. "And while most of the lunch boxes available in the market open from the top, which is contrary to the physics theory that heat escapes to the top, our products are designed to open from the bottom, so that when the heat escapes to the top, it has nowhere to escape, thus helping retain the heat."

"Our lunch boxes are designed to be very sleek, which can also fit into laptop bags," added Vasanthakumar, a U.S.-based technologist of Indian origin, who has worked with consumer electronics giant Apple Inc. of the United States.

Talking about the brand positioning and sales channel, Vasanthakumar said the company will position the brand in the mid-market and premium segment, and will be using e-commerce to sell the products in Japan.

The company has drawn on expertise from professionals in Germany, Japan, the United States and India to design its products to meet global requirements as it looks to expand its footprint in Asia and other markets.

"Our Japanese expert, for example, is helping us design a product that meets local requirements for markets such as Japan," said Vasanthakumar, adding that the company is already selling its products in markets like Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and the United States, and is planning to expand in South Korea and Japan in the next few months.

According to the company, which started selling its smart lunch boxes last year, it is currently selling over 300 units per day in India and overseas markets.

Industry experts say that demand from the school segment and office-goers preferring home-cooked food will continue to drive demand for lunch boxes, including such newly designed and innovative products, in markets across the world. (NNA/Kyodo)