L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

Atsushi Nakagawa, founder of Amazake Co, a Japanese health food business
Meet Atsushi Nakagawa, former aspiring rockstar and founder of Amazake Co. Atsushi moved to the United States after obtaining his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tokyo. While working in the automobile industry, he started experiencing skin eczema, which did not go away with traditional treatments. This led him to experiment with alternative wellness practices and re-discover Japanese fermented food's health benefits.

Driven to experiment further, he started to make homemade Japanese rice bran pickles (nukazuke), miso, amazake, and koji. He went back to Japan to become an apprentice at a miso/koji microbrewery where he worked side by side with great fermenters. In May 2019, he established his healthy food business Amazake Co. in Los Angeles.

His first challenge was to find a way to scale his production, which required specific methods and specialty equipment. He went into a trial-and-error period, where he consulted with different kitchen equipment stores, and conducted research to find alternative ways to make his vision come true.

Having figured out the production side, he joined the Seasoned Accelerator Year 3 cohort, a program from Food Access L.A., where he was paired up with a seasonal hospitality professional, a business coach, and a marketing coach. The Seasoned Accelerator is a unique business program that focuses on the farmer’s market-based food industry.

It was at this stage that he also realized one of his main challenges was not just increasing sales but that he also needed to educate his customers about the nourishing power of the centuries-old fermentation process that he was using to create his products, which include a fermented rice concentrate.

“Aside from the program providing weekly webinars where I learned what I needed to prepare and do in order to increase my portfolio of local buyers and from the support that I received from both of my coaches- my coaches also gave me some great self-care tools that helped me to prioritize myself more and not only on driving my business,” Atsushi said.

With guidance from his coaches, Atsushi created a targeted list of potential clients, redesigned his farmer’s market booth and created a social media presence. His hard work paid off. Amazake Co obtained three new business accounts from local stores and restaurants. He also experienced increases in sales at the Hollywood Farmers Market and expanded his social media following.

The Seasoned Accelerator team is proud of all of Atsushi’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see where he goes next. You can learn more about Amazake Co products and where to find them at www.amazakeco.com

EWDD administers and supports several incubators in the City of Los Angeles through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, including Food Access L.A., which supports food entrepreneurs. The Seasoned Accelerator program has continued to help empower local food and beverage businesses through its unique model of promoting intergenerational knowledge and exchange.

Through individualized advising and coaching from food industry experts, the program offers Los Angeles-based businesses the opportunity to learn from mentors and help create thriving business conditions. The program's team of advisors and webinar instructors also share unique skills that assist small business owners in fostering business growth and longevity.

Learn more about the various Incubator and Accelerator programs and find one that can help your business grow.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of February 6, 2023. Read this issue and more.