The grocery delivery service industry in China is hotting up. Yihaodian, majority owned by Walmart, is currently able to make cash-on-delivery services in 1,100 cities in China, while boosted its delivery to around 1,037 city districts after launching its grocery channel in 2013. Last week, Alibaba-acquired Cainiao launched the largest supermarket distribution center in Eastern China to ensure its e-commerce website Tmall providing fresh groceries for customers.

Handpick distinctly sets itself apart from China’s fiercely competitive food delivery market by providing users with dish ideas using ingredients that they already have on hand. “We can recommend to our users what ingredients to buy and what to cook with those ingredients. We now plan to add partners to help users purchase the ingredients from their market. This will lead to companies participating in a revenue sharing business model. We don’t aim to ship groceries, but rather will instead focus on extending the capabilities of our ingredient recommendation engine.” Handpick CEO Payman Nejati said.

By aggregating more than 100 million social media posts, recipe sites, and indie blogs, Handpick has insights at a global level what people are consuming, together with sentiments around the food dishes, recipes and social posts they are sharing. “By analyzing Instagram’s hashtags, we can track the type of dish, ingredient, and tell if the recipe is ideal for vegetarians or for diets. We can also identify consumer sentiment over the particular food post.” Handpick CTO Joel Wang said.

Launched in September in 2013, the service lists 10,000 ingredients for all dish types and over 250,000 international recipes. Handpick is available via the web, Android or iOS-base app in English, French, Chinese version. The two co-founders and an angel investor contributed  $850K seed investment of their own capital.  Since then, Handpick has received a $3 million Series A funding round after just nine months of inception.

With its headquarters in San Francisco, an engineering team in Shanghai and a content team in Manila, the company went from China to the U.S., with a vision of becoming a global service. Currently, Handpick’s users are predominantly based in the U.S., but the company plans to grow its presence in China. “Chinese users like to perform many tasks on one app while U.S.-based users prefer to do a single task for one app. So we plan to diversify our app for the U.S. market and ensuring our app for the Chinese market is packed with lots of features and functionality.” Nejati said. 

Handpick’s co-founders had long served in the food supply market and have extensive business experience in China. Another co-founder Jean-Pierre Chessé was formerly the founder and CEO of SINODIS, one of the largest food importers and distributors in China and successfully brought Italian-made pasta proliferate into China. CEO Nejati worked in Shanghai based agencies helping international brands like Kraft, Nestle, Coca Cola and Campbell to build their marketing strategy to cater to Chinese customers.

Now the team plans to the same for expanding Handpick’s presence among users in China. “I learned that foreign brands shouldn’t lose their identity when entering the China market. Advice for foreign startups entering China is to stay foreign and bring all positive aspects of your country and adapt little to the Chinese preferences.” Nejati said.

Image Credit: Handpick

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at

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