What Is Oishii?
The company was started in New York in 2017 by Hiroki Koga and Brendan Somerville — who have experience in business and in the food industry. According to the company website, Koga was inspired to launch the startup after he “visited America and found that the industry values quantity over quality.” The co-founder, who now serves as CEO, decided to share the Japanese strawberry experience. Together with Somerville, he launched the business and established what would be the first-of-its-kind indoor vertical strawberry farm in the US.
Vertical Farming Competition
Vertical farming has grown in popularity over the past two decades and is projected to reach $12 million in value by 2026. This is due to a boost in demand for fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a decrease in viable farming land. Agricultural food and technology companies raised a total of $8.1 billion in 2020, according to Crunchbase.
The growth is apparent for the startup when looking into its main competitors in the vertical farming market. Berlin-based urban farming network Infarm raised an impressive $170 million in a Series C funding round in September 2020 with another $100 million in 2021. Indoor vertical farming company Plenty Unlimited secured $140 in Series D funding, and Unfold (a product of Bayer’s investment arm and investment firm Temasek) pulled in $30 million in initial funding.
Oishii Secures Money and Investors
The strawberry farming company has raised a total of $55 million for its business to date, according to Crunchbase. While the startup raised $5 million in an earlier seed round, it has not publicized who invested in the company. This most recent round — which pulled in the bulk of the funding ($50 million) for Oishii— was led by SPARX Group’s Mirai Creation Fund III, as well as the Sony Innovation Fund, PKSHA Technology, Social Starts, and some angel investors.
Indoor Vertical Farming Final Takeaways
Oishii intends to use this money to expand its operations, which are currently limited to New York. The strawberry vertical farming startup is eyeing both domestic and international expansion for its business, focusing on large metropolitan areas across the US as well as the Middle East and Asia.
Indoor Vertical farming has proven most useful in large metropolitan areas where space is finite. Oishii will have to contend with other companies operating in the same industry, but the business is boasting momentum and has the benefit of being part of a growing market.
About the Author
Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.