Founder and CEO of GOPIZZA Lim Jae-won [Photo provided by GOPIZZA]
GOPIZZA, a pizza chain known for its robot-prepared single-portion pizzas, has been offered a $10 million deal from a U.S. investment firm following a week-long state visit by President Yoon Suk Yeol to the U.S. at the end of April.
According to the pizza chain on Tuesday, GOPIZZA received multiple investment proposals from local U.S. investors to enter the U.S. market during a road show for Korean startups that was held on the sidelines of the Korea-U.S. Cluster Roundtable in Boston on April 28 during the presidential visit to the U.S. The pizza maker is now in negotiations with one particular U.S. investor for a $10 million deal, discussing details of future plans.
“The deal is likely to be finalized by the end of May,” said Lim Jae-won, the founder of the pizza maker, speaking to the Maeil Business Newspaper during a phone interview. “We won’t shift our focus to the U.S. market from Southeast Asia for now, even if we conclude a deal with the U.S. partner. We aim to open a pilot store in the U.S. sometime in the second half of next year.”
“We plan to raise investment little by little, appropriate at each stage of our growth, instead of attracting a sole lump-sum deal,” Lim said. The pizza maker is currently in talks with multiple global investors, aside from the U.S. investor, according to the company.
GOPIZZA started as a night market food truck in Seoul in 2016. With its self-developed automated oven, called a Goven, Lim was able to bake six to eight pizzas, each with five slices, in three minutes. One classic cheese pizza is sold for as low as 5,400 won ($4.03). With its first 3.3-square-meter store opened in 2017 in southern Seoul, the company now operates more than 180 stores across Asia, including in Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as in its home market, after only seven years of being in business. One in four of its stores is overseas.
The company hopes its potential entry into the U.S. market could be the foundation for the pizza chain to expand further across North American and into Europe, from its current foothold in Southeast Asia.
Lim was the only the food tech and franchise company leader included in the recent economic mission to the U.S., along with other major corporate leaders. During a luncheon hosted by Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey on April 28, Lim presented his business to Yoon at the invitation of Minister of SMEs and Startups Lee Young.
By Song Kyung-eun and Chang Iou-chung
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