Yami Bags $50M Series B to Boost Its Online Asian Marketplace

Alex Zhou, the creator and CEO of Yami, had limited access to Asian goods and products when he went to the Midwest for college in 2007. Zhou had to go two hours to the nearest Asian market to buy his favorite Asian products. After coming to Los Angeles in 2013, he founded Yami, a direct-to-consumer marketplace for Asian food, skincare items, and household goods in the United States. Yami strives to provide Asian Americans and those Americans interested in Asian culture with an authentic offering of Asian culture, custom, and products. Yami has over 4,000 brands and over 260,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) in the food, cosmetics, health, and home categories, according to Zhou.

Yami reported on Wednesday that it has secured $50 million in a Series B round led by Altos Ventures and Balsam Bay Partners, with existing backers J.P Morgan and GGV Capital joining in. The Series B takes the company’s total funding to $60 million, according to Zhou, who did not provide its valuation. According to Zhou, the Los Angeles-based business would use the new capital to expand its U.S. operations by constructing a new warehouse in New Jersey to reduce delivery times.

In addition, Zhou told TechCrunch that the company aims to invest in technology such as artificial intelligence and big data, which would strengthen its supply chain and improve customer experience. Its new technology will enable hyper-personalization, which means that AI and real-time data will help buyers from all walks of life find more relevant products at reasonable prices. 

Simultaneously, merchants and vendors will have greater information on product sourcing and inventory forecasting, according to Zhou. After additional expansion in the United States, Yami is considering entering Canada to offer its service as early as next year, according to Zhou of TechCrunch.

Asian Americans have nearly tripled in number in the United States over the last three decades, making them the fastest-growing consumer group in the country, with Nielsen research putting the Asian American consumer market at $1.2 trillion in 2020. Since its debut, Yami claims to have surpassed 2 million users in the United States. Other businesses specialize in certain sectors such as fresh groceries and snack subscriptions, but Yami, according to Zhou, is the largest Asian marketplace in terms of user numbers and product selection. The company currently employs over 300 people worldwide, with offices in the United States, China, and Japan.

“For almost a decade, we’ve been the most authentic and skillfully curated online marketplace supplying consumers across North America with the most sought-after Asian products,” Zhou said. “Yami leverages the power of global e-commerce to provide you the comforts of home or the cultures you love, no matter where you are in the world,” said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital and a Yami board member.