|Founder||Theo, Mike, Chris|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, CA|
When KPOP Foods launched in 2017, it started with just one product, KPOP Sauce, a savory, rich, and full bodied chili sauce. In three years, KPOP Foods quickly expanded the line of sauces to include 3 other flavors as well as 2 roasted seaweed snacks. The key ingredient behind all of the sauces is the Korean fermented chili paste, or gochujang, a quintessential ingredient in Korean food that creates the depth of flavor in each of the sauces. The seaweed snacks are flavorful, easy-to-enjoy, and low in calories, making them the perfect healthy snack.
KPOP Foods' mission is to uplift spirits and bring people together by sharing Korean food and flavors in America.They aim to make these flavors more accessible to encourage discovery and exploration.
The sauce lineup includes: KPOP Sauce, KPOP XXX - the hotter, bolder version of KPOP Sauce; Honey Glaze - a beautiful blend of honey and jalapeños, which is perfectly sweet with a slight kick; and Kimchi Mayo their signature aioli inspired by the spice and tang of kimchi, it's creamy, silky, with a little kick. Their Original Sea Snacks are made with only 4 ingredients - seaweed, roasted sea salt, sunflower oil, and sesame oil. Lastly, their newest product, Kimchi Sea Snacks, are just like their original, but with a kick. Today, KPOP Foods is venture-backed, having raised over $2.0 million in capital, and grew its sales by over 300% in 2020. KPOP Foods can be found online at kpopfoods.com, Amazon, and in over 500 retail locations across the U.S.
When co-founders, Theo Lee and Mike Kim met in business school, they quickly became friends and many late-night group study sessions turned into late-night Korean BBQ. Seeing their friends' delighted reactions to the delicious and communal experience of Korean food sparked an idea. Using Theo's grandma's original secret recipe for Korean gochujang sauce, Mike and Theo created their first bottle of KPOP Sauce and KPOP Foods was born! KPOP Foods debuted on Kickstarter and successfully met the goal of $10,000 in under 8 hours and ended the campaign with nearly $40,000 from over 1,200 backers. Soon after KPOP Foods was launched, they caught the eye and tastebuds of celebrity chef Chris Oh. Chris's experience and energy made him the perfect fit to join the KPOP Foods team! With Chris at their side, they continue to push Korean cuisine and culture to the forefront, and hope to foster a community where people can discover and enjoy the uniqueness of Korean food and flavors!
Believe it or not, Chris was not always a chef. A lifetime ago, Chris opened a real estate business and some carwash businesses. However, he could not ignore his love for food, so he decided to take a leap of faith. He sold his businesses and landed his first culinary job by lying on his resume. After working in kitchens all over Los Angeles, he honed his skill and developed his palette. Now Chris is the owner of restaurants such as Um.ma, Chingu, and Kamu. He is the founder of Seoul Sausage Co, Co-founder of Hanjip, managing partner of Escala, and has won of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, Esquire Network’s Knife Fight, and Food Network’s Great American Food Truck Race among others. He joined KPOP Foods as Head of Product in 2018 and has helped grow their line of sauces from one to four sauces and two roasted seaweed snacks.
CEO and co-founder of KPOP Foods, Theo Lee is a true Bruin, studying at UCLA for his undergrad as well as his MBA. Right after undergrad, Theo went into investment banking and quickly discovered that the corporate life was not for him. He then went to business school, met Mike, and the rest is history. With KPOP Foods, Theo hopes to build and bring awareness to Korean food and flavors and make KPOP Foods the Korean food brand in America. Not only that, but he hopes his story and the story of KPOP Foods can be an inspiration to future Asian American entrepreneurs.
After receiving a B.S. in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Mike served for over five years in various roles including Infantry Platoon Leader, Project Manager, to Assistant Operations Officer. In the US Army, he led teams of up to 60 people across multiple cities in the United States, Afghanistan, and South Korea. Shortly after, Mike transitioned from military service to the UCLA Anderson School of Management and began working as a Strategy and Business Development Associate at Edison Water Resources. After becoming friends with Theo and many late night KBBQ experiences with their friends, Mike and Theo pursued KPOP Foods full time in 2017. Mike hopes that KPOP Foods will inspire future entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and as a veteran, hope to show future veterans that transitioning from military to civilian life is possible.