Venture capital investing takes many forms, not only in technology, but also in the development of new products for which there is unmet demand. In 2012, two expatriates with a passion for fine Italian cheese found themselves dissatisfied with the available options in Tokyo. They decided to do something about it.
ACCJ member Jeff Clemente and his "brother-by-another-mother," Elio Orsara, owner of the eponymous restaurant Elio Locanda, established Fattoria Bio Hokkaido on the outskirts of Sapporo, in Hokkaido, to make better cheese. With the local knowledge and connections of a third partner in Hokkaido, the persistence to penetrate the defenses of the local Japan Agriculture dairy cooperative, and the talent of a young cheese master persuaded to relocate from Southern Italy, their venture is paying off. Today their company produces about 20 different Italian-style cheese products, including ricotta and mozzarella, buratta and caciocavallo, using fresh milk supplied by local dairy farms near Sapporo. The company sells its products B2B, in several supermarkets and specialty food stores in Tokyo, and in retail outlets adjacent to the factory and at the New Chitose Airport. It has also begun exporting to Hong Kong.
Come to hear these "venture capitalists" describe their experiences and adventures with their cheese startup and to enjoy perhaps the best pizza in Tokyo from the wood-fired oven of Pizza Strada. Enjoy networking with other ACCJ members, and enjoy cheese from both an alternative investment as well as a passion investing perspective.
Frank Packard, Christopher P. Wells, Co-chairs
Andrew Conrad, Board Liaison
ACCJ Alternative Investment Subcommittee
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