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August 24, 2019 59 min
The lack of decent lunch options led Koji Kanematsu to launch Onigilly, serving onigiri—traditional Japanese rice balls—to busy American workers. He now has an ambitious mission to build Onigilly into a nationwide chain of at least 500 locations, as a healthier alternative to Subway and McDonald’s. He joins us to share his vision, how his early career in high tech and mobile gaming prepared him for the food business, and why the death of his childhood friend inspires him to always move forward. The end of this episode mentions the death of Koji’s friend by suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org). Links and Show Notes Onigilly - Japanese gourmet rice balls (http://www.onigilly.com/)—“ Healthy, Handy, Yummy! ONIGILLY [Oh-KNEE-Ghee-Lee] serves traditional Japanese rice balls made with partially milled organic brown rice and savory fillings wrapped in seaweed.” Onigiri - Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onigiri) Spam musubi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_musubi) Subway (https://www.subway.com/en-us) Fast Casual Dining (https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-fast-casual-dining-2888308) McDonald's (https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us.html) La Cocina (https://lacocinasf.org/)—“a nonprofit working to solve problems of equity in business ownership for women, immigrants and people of color.” Getting A Food Startup Off The Ground With A Co-Packer (https://www.pacmoore.com/blog/food-startup-co-packer/) 4 Tips For Scaling Your Food Startup With a Co-packer (https://foodtechconnect.com/2015/10/07/4-tips-for-scaling-your-food-startup-with-a-co-packer/) Off the Grid (https://offthegrid.com/) Non-Profit Lenders (https://www.businessloans.com/guide/non-profit-lenders/) Panda Express (https://www.pandaexpress.com/) If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org). Our thanks to Koji for joining us. You can find him on Twitter @onigilly (https://twitter.com/onigilly) and www.onigilly.com. Thank you for listening. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram: Lettuce Wrap: @lettucewrappod (https://twitter.com/lettucewrappod) / @lettucewrappod (https://instagram.com/lettucewrappod) Christine Doerr: @christinedoerr (https://twitter.com/christinedoerr) / @neococoaconfections (https://www.instagram.com/neococoaconfections/) Tammy Tan: @spicehound (http://twitter.com/spicehound) / @spicehound (https://www.instagram.com/spicehound/) or email us at lettucerwrappod@gmail.com (mailto:lettucerwrappod@gmail.com). That’s a wrap! Amazon (https://amzn.to/2DBzg5j) and other links may be affiliates. Purchases help support the show. Special Guest: Koji Kanematsu, Onigilly.
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