The first food-focused design thinking bootcamp.

application for 2018 Black Sesame bootcamp is closed


We believe in bold food entrepreneurs who can make the world healthier and happier for humans.


Black Sesame was founded upon the belief that food startups should be human-centered. According to Forbes, the number one reason startups fail is the absence of market needs. Human-centered design thinking reveals the vulnerabilities and pain points consumers are looking to resolve in their lives.  Designing solutions for these pain points will improve the odds of success for new innovations in the food space.

Using design thinking, we want to help you find your target users' needs and translate those needs into desirable food product ideas. Startups will be given coaching to learn the human-centered, prototype-driven design thinking process by going through a food-related design thinking challenge.

We aim to help you build the skills you need to understand how to successfully execute innovation, understand your market, and translate user insights into new product opportunities for your own company.

Are you ready to start your journey? 

Program Structure


Participants will be early-stage Consumer Packaged Goods food startups (includes snacks, beverages, etc.) who are interested in improving their products through human-centered innovations.

Please select two participants from your company.

We will select ten participants (5-7 startups) in total.


2.5 day food design thinking bootcamp


Friday, Oct 26th - Sunday, Oct 28th


GSL Lab, San Francisco | Kitchentown, San Mateo


No cost for participation.

Participants must cover their own transportation and accommodation. Accommodations for participants not based in the Bay Area will be partially covered by a stipend. Please contact us for more information.




The mission of Black Sesame Bootcamp is to help early stage food startups understand their market and identify new product opportunities through human-centered design thinking.



Timeline and Outcomes


Application due

October 5th 


phone Interview

October 8th - 12th


Final announcement

October 15th

*Due to a large number of applications, the final announcement was postponed to Oct 22th.

The finalists will shortly receive an email from us.



October 26th - 28th

GSL Lab, San Francisco | Kitchentown, San Mateo


You will gain a better understanding of your current and future users' needs and a more concrete product direction taking into account major trends in the food and tech industries.  


You will have access to our FoodInno network of industry leaders, food founders, funders, corporations, media, farmers, restaurateurs, etc.

“Food is the one central thing about human experience that can open both our senses and our conscience to our place in the world.”

- Alice Waters



Black Sesame's team comes from a diverse range of backgrounds in design, technology, business, entrepreneurship, and innovation that all overlap through the common thread of food.


Soh Kim 

Founding Member


Sungene Ryang

Founding Member


Eesha Choudhari

Founding Member


Summer Jung

Founding Member


Rusty Schwartz

Founding Member



Frank Fu

Former Innovation Hub Manager, Coca-Cola


Peter So

Co-founder of Nourish


Sara Maxence 

International Business & Marketing Manager 


Ji Lee

Program Manager at Loreal Incubator


Namiko Kajiwara

Venture Partnet at WiL (World Innovation Lab)


Jenna Chen

Marketing & Communications Manager at Kitchentown


Ryan Lee

Co-founder and CFO of Smartstudy

Black Sesame Bootcamp 2018 is sponsored by Kitchentown.

Black Sesame Bootcamp 2018 is sponsored by Kitchentown.

Story of Black Sesame

The black sesame seed is a symbol of immortality. As an ingredient in almost every cuisine, it transcends cultures. It is nutrient-rich and healthy, yet packed with flavor.

In the story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in The Arabian Nights, "Open Sesame" was the magic password that opened a cave in which stolen treasure was hidden. In the story, it is said that “mysterious sesame leads to the miracle of magic,” as sesame was considered to be a treasure that contained mysterious powers. Because the husks of sesame seeds open for the seeds inside to pop out, "Open Sesame" symbolizes that the treasure packed inside can, with some work, be released for the world to see and experience.

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