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About The Guest
Paul Shapiro is the author of the national bestseller Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, the CEO of The Better Meat Co., a four-time TEDx speaker, and the host of the Business for Good Podcast.
The company Paul co-founded and runs, The Better Meat Co., uses fermentation to turn microbes into meat within hours, creating a far more sustainable and humane method of satisfying our “meat tooth” than raising and slaughtering animals for food.
He’s been interviewed by hundreds of news outlets from CNN to StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson as an authority on food and agriculture sustainability. He’s also published hundreds of articles in publications ranging from daily newspapers like the Washington Post to pop-sci publications like Scientific American to magazines like FORTUNE to academic journals.
- 00:00 – Intro
- 03:10 – Paul Shapiro’s Origin Story.
- 07:13 – How Did Paul Start His Own Socially Responsible Business?
- 14:36 – What Was The Thinking Process Behind The Creation Of Paul’s Business?
- 17:17 – Did Paul Look For Money Or Customers First?
- 19:02 – The Evolution Of The Meat-Alternatives Industry.
- 26:54 – Which One Is The Healthiest, Analogue Or Natural Meat?
- 30:26 – Startup Issues Initially Faced By Paul’s Company.
- 32:32 – Paul’s Vision For Analogue Meat.
- 35:52 – Can Analogue Meat Replace Natural Meat?
- 38:02 – What Does Paul Address In His Podcast?
- 41:01 – Finding Good Help & Advisory.
- 42:18 – Paul’s Advice For Emerging Entrepreneurs.
- 45:03 – Where Can People Connect With Paul?
- 45:36 – What Was The Biggest Challenge Of Paul Shapiro’s Career And How Did He Overcome It?
- 46:11 – Paul Shapiro’s Mentor.
- 47:10 – A Book Or A Podcast Recommended By Paul Shapiro.
- 48:55 – What Is The One Thing Paul Shapiro Would Tell His 20-Year-Old Self?
- 50:00 – What Does Success Mean To Paul Shapiro?
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What is the Success Story Podcast?
On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.
The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.
Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.
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Machine Generated Transcript
meat, people, company, animals, protein, product, fungi, fermentation, raising, create, podcast, problem, sales, business, world, ingredients, thinking, plant, selling, scott
Paul Shapiro, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:00
Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like the salesmen podcast hosted by wil Baron. Now if you work in sales, you want to learn how to sell or you want to peek at some of the latest sales news and insights, you need to listen to the salesman podcast. The host will Baron help sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win big business in effective and ethical ways. If you think any of the following topics resonate with you, you’re gonna love the show, how to find and close your dream job and sales 12 essential principles of selling digital body language, how to have better zoom sales meetings, or how to tell a remarkable sales story. If these are topics that would interest you. Go check out the salesman podcast wherever you get your podcasts or at hubspot.com/podcast Network. Today, my guest is Paul Shapiro. He is the CEO of better meat co he’s also a national best selling author of clean meat. How growing me without animals will revolutionize dinner and the world. He is a four time TEDx speaker. He is the host of the business for good podcast. He’s a longtime leader in food sustainability. The company that he founded and runs the better meat co uses fermentation turned microbes into meat within hours creating a far more sustainable and humane method of satisfying our meat tooth compared to raising and slaughtering animals for food. He’s been interviewed by hundreds of news outlets from CNN to star talk radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson as an authority on food and agricultural sustainability. He’s also published hundreds of articles and publications ranging from daily newspapers, like the Washington Post, to pop side publications like Scientific American, to magazines like fortune to academic journals, we spoke about his story, how he got into sustainability, how he decided to start better meat co What better meat CO is trying to accomplish? When there’s so many other options like Beyond Meat and all these other meat alternative companies that are starting up, we spoke about meat alternatives, better meat coasts product and how it compares to real meat in terms of nutrients in terms of taste testing, all the things that are basically going to be the main factor in whether or not the company’s successful. Yeah, some surprising results. We also spoke about building a company in a blue ocean. So meat alternatives is not a market that is enormous. Right now it’s growing, but it’s just getting there. So finding the talents, finding the scientists finding the investors, a lot of early stage blue ocean startup strategies that Paul had to navigate when he was building better meet co so let’s jump right into it. This is Paul Shapiro. Best Selling Author for time TEDx speaker, and founder CEO of the better Mikko.
Paul Shapiro 03:10
Awesome, all right. You know, Scott, I grew up with a love for animals and love for the planet. And it wasn’t until I became like a young teenager, though, that I started learning about, you know, really the fact that we don’t really treat animals especially the animals we raised for food that well, in fact, we treat them pretty deplorably. And raising animals for food is really a big driver in deforestation, climate change, wildlife extinction, animal welfare concerns, pandemic risk, and more. And the problem is that the planet’s just not getting any bigger, right, like humanity’s footprint on the planet is getting a lot bigger, but the planet itself isn’t getting much bigger. And one of the primary ways that we leave that footprint is probably through our food print, principally in the amount of meat that we eat. Because raising animals for food tastes like a lot of land, a lot of water, a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, and more. And so if you think about the fact that there’s nearly 8 billion of us walking around on the planet today, and we’re going to have, presuming this new catastrophe that fills our numbers prior to then within 30 years or so another 2 billion added to the planet. So if you didn’t matter, like, you know, we’re not gonna be farming the moon, we’re not gonna be farming Mars, we have one planet to farm, right? That’s Earth, and it’s not getting any bigger. So how can we continue to supply people with the meat that they want to eat without having to destroy the planet in the process? And that is when I really started thinking about, you know, can we divorce meat production from livestock raising? So it’s kind of Scott, like, if you think about, you know, for a very long time, the only way anybody had to get photographs was with, you know, negatives and dark rooms and print photos and so on. And then digital comes along, and it still does the same thing, right? It still helps us to capture our memories, but it’s done in a way more efficient and better way. Instead of waiting for hours or days to get your photos you know, we’re waiting Zero seconds really. And that’s the same that I think we need to do with meat is to create the same experience. So we’re still getting the meat experience, we’re still satisfying our meat tooth, so to speak, but without needing to raise all those animals and slaughter all those animals. And so a lot of my life has been devoted to thinking about and exploring how we can continue to create the meat experience without having to raise and slaughter so many animals.
Scott D Clary 05:28
I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode feedback loop. Now, if you’re a product person, entrepreneur, startup guy like me, you have at some point in your career tried to take a product to market, you’ve tried to come up with a new idea, and it fell flat, it’s ultimately failed 85 to 90% of all new products of all new startup ideas fail. Why is this basically it is really hard, really expensive and really time consuming to validate product market fit with your potential consumers or customers. Old Style market research is way too slow, too complicated, too time consuming for dynamic, fast moving teams and want to build great stuff. But what if you could test out your idea, your product with your target consumers whenever you want before you invest in the money time energy effort that it takes to actually develop a product? Well, that’s what startups all the way through to Fortune 500 are using feedback loop for you get quality feedback from your target customers early and often. Feedback Loop is the test before you invest product research platform. It has built in expert templates for concept testing, user discovery, prioritizing features on your roadmap, and much more, you can create your own test in minutes and get quality insights from your target consumers in hours, they set up a special link for everybody who’s a success story podcast listener to test it out to try it go to go dot feedback loop.com/access You get three free tests. That’s go dot feedback loop comm slash success, you can try it out for free, you get three free tests. So if you want your next product idea or feature to be a hit test before you invest, build based on data, not opinion, and launch with confidence with feedback loop, check it out right now. And walk me through. So so that that makes sense now and that’s that’s where you’re at now. But walk me through your I guess your career, perhaps I want to understand how you decided to start your own thing, but also how you decided to start your thing and something you’re passionate about. Was this the first thing you went into? Or did you try other other iterations of entrepreneurship and then failed? And I want to understand that as well. Because I want to tee up. Not everybody builds a business that is like a socially conscious business and does it successfully because I find that that’s a challenge in and of itself. Like you aren’t just building another software product, taking it to market. You’re you’re sort of building a product as an industry emerges, which is a challenge. So yeah, walk me back a little bit. And let me understand, like where you came from, and that will sort of TF how you how you got here.
Paul Shapiro 08:05
Yeah, sure. You know, as a young teenager, I became really interested and concerned about how we feed humanity and what we’re doing to the planet and to animals in the process. And that led me down a path of working for 20 years in the nonprofit space, mainly working on public policy reforms as a lobbyist in order to try to pass laws to improve agricultural sustainability to improve animal welfare, especially the welfare of animals who are raised for food. And that career, I think was I’m proud of it. At the same time, it became very clear to me, especially starting around like 20 1314 and 15, I became more and more concerned that maybe innovation and technology would do more to solve these food and agricultural sustainability problems than nonprofit charities could. And while I was glad to be helping to create a better system through passage of laws and so on, I just started thinking, you know, if you look back, for example, at the whaling problem, like in the 19th century, we were all lighting our homes with whale oil. And it was a real concern. People were writing letters to the editor in 19th century newspapers about the extinction of whales because they’re so concerned about it. But what ended up freeing whales from harpoons was not sustainability concerns. It was the invention of kerosene. And kerosene provided a cheaper, cleaner way for us to light our homes. Similarly, we used to live plug geese so that we could write in fact, interestingly enough, Thomas Jefferson had an entire flock of geese he was such a prolific writer he had such a in a whole flock of geese just to live pluck them into so you can write all these letters he was writing and and it’s very barbaric practice very cruel to the animals. But you know, nobody stopped live plucking geese because they were concerned about the geese they stopped because now that’ll fountain pens were invented. Similarly, there’s a big concern about the treatment of horses back in the 19th century for labor purposes, because we you know, under the threat of whipping them, we forced them to carry us and our goods or That was the primary method of transportation. But you know, we didn’t stop abusing horses, because we cared about them, we stopped because cars were invented, and we had a better way to transport ourselves. So you look at all of these sustainability and human problems and time and time again, they’re being solved not by human sentiment, not by sustainability concerns, but by technological innovation that renders the old system totally obsolete. And so I started getting more and more concerned that maybe innovation and technology would do even more than what I was doing in the nonprofit sector. And as a result, I wrote a book on that topic. And the book is called Clean meat, how growing meat without animals will revolutionize dinner in the world and explores this basic thesis that maybe there is a faster way to solve this problem of our humanity’s addiction to meat. And the book is a pop side book. It’s not technical, really, it’s a pop side book that explores and chronicles the race between the entrepreneurs, the investors, and the scientists are all racing to commercialize the world’s first slaughter free meet. And after writing that book, I have a decision to make. I have just written this book and going on a book tour to talk about these great entrepreneurs who I thought were gonna end up saving the world. And I could continue simply to write about the people who I thought were going to solve this problem. Or I could become one of them myself. And I chose the latter path. And that’s why I co founded the better Mikko was my first startup that I had ever done. In fact, my first time really in the for profit world. I’d spent two decades in the nonprofit world. And now, here I was in the very beginning of 2018, deciding to start a for profit company. But as you mentioned correctly, Scott, a for profit company that is has a much higher mission than making a profit. In fact, I’d argue that profit is a byproduct of what we’re doing. Obviously, we have to make money we won’t survive if we don’t. But the real purpose of what we’re doing is trying to solve a serious social problem, just in the same way that for example, companies that are trying to make solar panels more efficient, and they have a goal of course, they want to make money, but the way they make money is by solving a serious world problem by making renewable energy more efficient and cheaper than fossil fuels. Well, what we’re trying to do is similar, we’re trying to create a the equivalent of renewable energy in the food space by getting protein with a far far far smaller footprint on the planet than is needed by raising and slaughtering animals for me.
Scott D Clary 12:23
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Paul Shapiro 15:10
Yes You know that yeah, this is like a principle of entrepreneurship that I firmly believe in, which is to surround yourself with people who are a lot smarter than you are. So I may be the face of the better meat co but I am certainly not the brain behind it. There are numerous brands that are far far, far superior to mine, who know a lot more about microbiology and tissue, they know a lot more about things like fermentation, science, and so on. So that’s step one. But I will say, you know, if you read clean, neat, one of the things that you notice is that many of the people who I talk about in the book are not people who are seasoned entrepreneurs, and people who have PhDs, many of the entrepreneurs are people who just wanted to make a difference. So I’ll give you an example. There’s a company today, it’s called perfect day, they were founded in 2014. By some people who were in their early 20s, who had never even met, in their early 20s, had never even met, they just met online and virtual chat rooms, and they decided they want to start a company together. Well, one thing leads to another, they end up raising millions of dollars. And today, they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars, seven years later, these guys are still in their 20s. Today, in their 20s. Today, seven years later, after raising literally hundreds of millions of dollars, and their company is doing really cool things they’re making. They’re basically making milk proteins without cows at all. So they’re using fermentation to make real milk proteins, like whey protein, without the need for cows, that’s very technologically difficult. But you know, they’ve surrounded themselves with lots of people who know how to do it. And it’s really awesome. It’s really cool. So those type of stories about looking at mere mortals who were making this happen, was inspirational to me because I thought, hey, if these guys can do it, maybe I can, too. And they have done a phenomenal job running their company, and I hope to have a fraction of the success that they’re having. So it’s true, Scott, like I am not, you know, the person who is, you know, deciding, you know what, we’re going to feed our microbes. But we have a lot of people here who do who are really great scientists, again, microbiologist and fermentation scientists, and chemical engineers, and so on, who can figure out how we can mimic meat without animals.
Scott D Clary 17:17
And when you were when you were putting this team together? Did you try and find money for the company first? Or do you try and find the people first?
Paul Shapiro 17:26
Well, we needed money, because, you know, we had just three people at the very beginning. And while the first couple months or volunteer, it would became evident very quickly that, you know, these, these people had left their jobs to do this, some of them, you know, or lucrative jobs that they left that we had to pay people. So we ended up raising a pre seed round. And it became oversubscribed. And we ended up just continuing to raise on the safe the simple agreement for future equity that we were utilizing. And so we anticipated raising a pretty big pre seed round, like we thought maybe we would try to raise like around 500,000, which is pretty big for a pre seed round. But we ended up raising 1.6 million in that round. There was a lot of
Scott D Clary 18:10
wrestle what we’ve actually done, but that’s really that’s pretty good for a seed round, or pre seed round, actually. Yeah.
Paul Shapiro 18:14
Thank you. pre seed round. Yeah. So yeah, that we then we later did a seed round, which, after we had advanced our technology and shown what we could do at the bench scale, we went on to a seed round, which we raised about 8.2 5 million. And then we’ve since done a $2 million convertible note. So we’ve raised about 12 million approximately to date in the last three and a half years or so. But that’s been enough to help us build a fairly sizable demonstration scale fermentation facility here. So in the fermentation world, there’s really four scales, there’s bench scale, pilot scale, demonstration, scale, and then full scale. So we’re not yet at the full scale level, that’s our next step, we need to go out and raise our Series A round to be able to afford the capital expenditures will be needed to put all that steel on the ground. But we’re getting there. We’re a really
Scott D Clary 19:02
good event. And then also, I want to I want to tee up the industry as a whole. So where, how is the industry evolved? And what spot do you fit in the industry in 2021? Because we all see all these different options, and we see how it sort of evolved over the past few years. But I don’t think anybody who’s not in the industry can actually put a finger on what the difference is with the the protein alternatives that you would see now versus two, three years ago or more.
Paul Shapiro 19:31
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of changes that have occurred. So even if you go back to way more than two or three years, but if you look at meat alternatives, they go back 1000 years. So in early China, more than 1000 years ago, there is still a written plant based meat recipe to make mock lamb. And then you fast forward to like the 19th century you have people like John Harvey Kellogg who were making products that were meat replacements and he even has the first patent on a plant based meat from 1899
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Paul Shapiro 23:14
then you fast forward another like 75 or so years, and you get companies like Lightlife into Turkey that are making products that are really designed for vegetarians, but they weren’t fooling carnivores, they were you know, they’re basically vegetarians like them. But then when you get to about five or so years ago, you get companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat that are trying to make products that will actually before diehard carnivores something that really fully mimics the meat experience so that people can enjoy me without needing animals, right. And that change shifted what the universe of potential customers were. Because the number of people who are vegetarian and vegan is very small compared to the number of people who are omnivores, right. You know, it’s like 95 to five there. And so all of a sudden, you have this huge universe of people who yes, they’re omnivores, but they’re happy to eat plant based every once in a while, especially if it still tastes the same as meat. And those companies really paved a new pathway. Now, what’s similar about them is that they both are making plant based meat, meaning they are taking plants like peas and soybeans and converting them into things that look like an animal’s flesh. You have a whole other category of folks who don’t go to the plant kingdom at all, they go to the animal kingdom. And there are though using animal cells, this is what’s commonly called Clean meat or cultivated meat. This isn’t a meat substitute or meat replacement. It is actually real animal meat that is simply grown from animal cells rather than coming from animal slaughter. And those companies are just starting to commercialize now their products are being sold, for example in Singapore and pretty soon Qatar says they’re going to be doing it. Hopefully the US will approve the sale of these products too. But what we get the better Mikko to answer your question directly Scott are doing is not going to the plant kingdom and not going to the animal kingdom. We are going to the fungi kingdom. And what we’re doing is so what we do, if you imagine like the evolutionary tree of life, right, you’ve got plants over here, you got animals over here. There’s a whole other kingdom called fungi and fungi are not in the middle here. They’re right next to animals right next to animals. So they’re way wasted more similar to animals than they are to plants. And just as an example, Scott, so you know, we all know plants breathe in co2 and sequester it and they breathe out oxygen. Well, animals do the opposite, right? We breathe in oxygen, we breathe out co2. Well, fungi are so much closer to animals that they do the same that we do, they breathe in oxygen, they breathe out co2. Similarly, like plants have to put themselves in the sun and photosynthesize. That’s how they basically eat. Whereas, like us fungi after search up their food and digest it and consume it, and so on. So, you know, it’s just the point is that fungi are much more closely related to animals than they are to plants. That’s why mushrooms have a far Meteor texture than plants do. In fact, in Asian cuisine, mushrooms have been used for centuries as a meat substitute. There’s a problem though, which is that mushrooms don’t really have a lot of protein. And even though they may have be more meat like they are not necessarily meat identical. That is where we come in. What we do is we don’t use mushrooms we use microscopic fungi that are called mycelium. It’s like the root like structure underneath what you would see in the fungus body. So the mushroom is like a fruiting body like an apple on a tree. And then the Mycelium is more like the root structure underneath it to use an analogy to the plant kingdom. And so what we do is we run a fermentation where we feed our microscopic fungi, potatoes, and just in the same way that a cow eats grass and converts it into a steak, our little microscopic fungi consume potatoes and change it into something that looks like meat on though unlike a cow, who takes more than a year of feeding her before you slaughter her, our little fungi are harvested in less than a single day. So we’re going from a potato, which is only 1% protein into a meat like product that’s about 45% protein, all in less than a single day. That is the efficiency when you remove animals from the equation, we can do this much faster, and a product that is much healthier. So unlike me if it doesn’t have any cholesterol, or saturated fat, but it does have fiber, which meat does not have. So you know animals have skeletons. That’s what holds us up. Well, plants don’t have skeletons and fungi don’t have skeletons, they have fiber, that’s what holds them up. And nearly everybody you’ve ever met Scott is fiber deficient. More than nine out of 10 Americans don’t hit the fiber RDA that is recommended for us to consume. And fiber deficiency is really serious. It’s not just that you’ll have constipation, which is bad enough, but it also is correlated with colon cancer and all these other really serious ailments. So our meat, so to speak, and protein, in fact, it’s higher in protein than eggs. But at the same time, it’s also really high in fiber, it has more iron than beef, more potassium than bananas. And because it’s a product of microbial fermentation, it contains vitamin B 12, which plant foods do not. So this is like a real superfood that we are producing in a matter of mere hours. And I believe it’s going to be the future of meat because it’s a far more meat like texture and media experience, then having to use extruded plant protein isolettes, which is what’s currently used in the plant based meat industry. So the shorter the short summation to a long answer to your questions got as if some people were taking plants and turning them into things like look like animal flesh. Other companies are using actual animal cells and just making animal flesh that way without raising whole or whole animals. What we’re doing is using microscopic fungi to create a meat experience for people that is way more makes
Scott D Clary 28:38
a lot of sense. Very interesting. So I just want to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode Express VPN. Now I know most of you are probably thinking, why don’t I just go incognito mode? Well, let me tell you something. Incognito Mode does not hide your activity. It doesn’t matter what mode you use, or how many times you delete your browsing history, your internet service provider can still see every single website you’ve ever visited. That’s why even when I’m at home, I never go online without ExpressVPN. And it doesn’t matter who your internet service provider is ISPs in the US can legally sell your information to add company. So what is ExpressVPN? Well, express VPN is an app that reroutes your internet connection through their secure servers so that your ISP can’t see the sites you visit. ExpressVPN also keeps all your information secure by encrypting 100% of your data with the most powerful encryption available. When I’m using ExpressVPN. I can’t even tell that it’s on. It runs seamlessly in the background. And it is so easy to use. All you have to do is tap a button and you’re protected. And what’s great is it’s available on all your devices. So your phone, your computer, even your Smart TV, there’s really no excuse for you not to be using it. So protect your online activity today with a VPN that was rated number one by Business Insider, visit my exclusive link expressvpn.com/success story and you can get three months free with a one year package. That’s ExpressVPN dot com slash success story, express vpn.com/success story to learn more. That makes a lot of sense. It’s very interesting. So the obviously the plant the plant base, and I’m going to simplify because I’m so your fungi based plant based then there’s obviously just true meat based. So the meat base is just regular meat, there’s no value added nutrition in it, it’s just regular meat.
Paul Shapiro 30:22
Yeah, you you could, you could so you could either create meat that’s identical to the meat that’s out there today. Or you can make it even better. So for example, what if you could make the meat without the cholesterol? or what have you could make it you know, instead of saturated fat, it has omega three fatty acids. So instead of a burger that causes heart attacks, maybe it’s one that prevents them. You know, there’s all types of improvements you could do, but you don’t have to.
Scott D Clary 30:45
But so the follow up question is the follow up question is, which which one is the quote unquote, healthiest? Right? Yeah, I think I think the first thing people say is not not, oh, I don’t want to eat, you know, a meat alternative approach an alternative, because it’s a protein alternative, like people may have like a little bit of a psychological aversion to certain ways of producing it. But that can probably be rectified in time if they just try it once, and they like it. And then of course, like the taste profile, texture is all important when you’re eating the food. But then they look and they see Bifur this is like anecdotal, but this is like not like, you know, first first first first experience, but they see like all these extra ingredients added in, they’re like, Well, how could this be healthy? When I see all these other things in that ingredient profile? So is that is that something that was more with the tofurkey? Or is that still a concern with certain types of protein alternatives that would turn people off?
Paul Shapiro 31:35
Sure, yeah, great question. So, you know, first and foremost, I agree with the premise of your question, which is, I think if people enjoy the taste that’s going to, you know, Trump, everything else, essentially, people, you know, taste is still as King prices clean. And then you know, whether the food is convenient to consumers, like prints, really, the other factors that you’re talking about, I do think some people are concerned about it. But you know, most people are, you know, going to fast food restaurants and just buying, you know, food that, you know, is maybe not the most healthy. Now, at the same time, you know, I do think like some of the plant based meats today do have maybe between like, 15 to 20 ingredients in them. But I do think it’s a mistake to conclude, that means it’s not healthy, because a lot of these are, you know, minor ingredients, they might, you know, have lots of different spices in them, and so on, like, the number of ingredients really doesn’t tell you much about whether something is healthy or not. But to answer your question, you know, our products from the better Mico, our short label, because our Miko protein is so functional and so good that you don’t need a lot of other ingredients, it’s really was such a wonderful product that you just don’t have to add a lot else to actually make it into something that tastes like meat. So I would say though, the bigger concerns would be looking at things like saturated fat and things like that. And yeah, like some products do have coconut oil added to them. And that’s a contributor to saturated fat, but not all of them do and are certainly don’t. And so, you know, I’m I’m a fan of the space, because I think that what it’s replacing is so different, right? So we are trying to replace meat, we’re not trying to replace a kale salad or trust me, you know, if you walk into Burger King, and you are getting an impossible Whopper or a regular Whopper, and you’re thinking oh, well, the impossible Whopper is the health food. You know, it’s not as good as a kale salad, right? It’s not as good as lentil soup. But it’s better than conventional Whopper you can zero cholesterol and more. So there’s there are benefits to alternative meats today over conventional meat, even if they aren’t necessarily like always as healthy as you know, going to the salad bar.
Scott D Clary 33:40
Very interesting. Okay, I want to um, I also want to I want to tee up some just some business insights, some some entrepreneurial insights. So walk me through like the the market because you do have some competitors. But when you were taking this product to market, did you have pushback? Did you have issues? How did you distribute it? How do you do something like this in a market that’s probably evolving as you’re as you’re trying to build your company?
Paul Shapiro 34:06
Yes, you’re absolutely right. So we are very deep on scientific expertise and figuring out how to run fermentations where we the whack is like, you know, we don’t really have a team of marketing and sales people right? Like that’s just not our forte. And so it’s been tough Now admittedly, we’re a b2b Ingredients company, right? We’re not trying to make a CPG branded product here. We’re we want to offer the alternative meat makers today, a better ingredient to make their products with and there aren’t that many competitors for us in that sense. They’re people who are selling things like pea protein or soy protein, etc. But for Miko protein there’s not a lot of b2b marketing of that ingredient so we don’t have that many competitors on that front. But we will need them you know, this is a huge opportunity a huge space the world is big enough for McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s even though they’re all selling fast food burger and fries there’ll be room for many different micro protein ingredients companies. So we’re not the only company that is interested in using fungi fermentation to mimic the meat experience. I think we’re the most advanced in terms of the early stage startups in this space. But you know, there’s other good ones out there and I’m rooting for their success to be added
Scott D Clary 35:18
that’ll help that’ll help you to that’ll, that’ll help shape the industry, right?
Paul Shapiro 35:23
Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s like a rising tide lifts all boats. But honestly, man, I mean, I’m a fan of the space because of the promise that it holds to solve a really serious problem. So I don’t think we can do it by ourselves. And, you know, even if it didn’t help us, I still would be rooting for success, honestly, I guess. But I think that I do think that we are the most advanced in that space in terms of like the earlier stage and race
Scott D Clary 35:46
and I just want to like, I just want to like call it out. Like if I don’t, I don’t know, meat alternatives that well, I’m, I still eat a lot of meat. So I think we should have done like a like a live taste test. It should have been like a blind taste. But
Paul Shapiro 36:02
come to Sacramento man, I’d love to have you here it’d be great for you to know
Scott D Clary 36:06
because I think that I’m just I was looking at your site as we’re talking right? I’m just looking at like, man like some of those pictures Those look like it’s making me hungry. So I want to just see I want to see like tastes as good as it looks but like it doesn’t look it doesn’t look like anything different. I don’t know how to put it like
Paul Shapiro 36:25
That’s right. Yeah, that’s the goal. You know, that’s the goal is we want to do is to give you that experience is kind of Scott like flicking a light switch on in a room right? So you walk into a room you flick a light switch, what you’re after is the experience of light. You want an illuminated room right? You’re not sitting there thinking oh, is this coming from renewable energy? Is it coming from coal? Is it coming from oil you know anything about you just want light? Well, people just want meat right? I don’t think that people when they eat meat are thinking, Oh, I’m so glad an animal knows right they don’t think about it. Right? Right. And and if they did think about it, they might actually prefer that an animal not be slaughtered for it if they had their preference. So I want to mimic the meat experience for people so they don’t even have to think about it. So when you are you know flicking your light switch on you know, it’s maybe coming from solar energy and you want to contemplate it. That’s what we want is so that when you look at it when you taste it when you chew it that it is the same and you just can’t tell a difference that’s when if we can mimic that experience for a cheaper price we will win.
Scott D Clary 37:26
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Paul Shapiro 39:19
We do it all the time, actually. So we have regular focus groups that are blind and we do various iterations and we do routinely and people will say oh, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t really? Yeah.
Scott D Clary 39:31
Wow. So it’s gotten to that point. I’m ignorant. I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m glad we had the conversation because I had no idea how far it’s come and I guess I’ve seen it all but I still I guess I’ve had like a like an apprehension towards Is there too much in some of these and that’s why I just haven’t wanting to go to fast food you just I just order what I already know. And I just order what I already know. I just default to like the status quo.
Paul Shapiro 39:56
It’s true, but I mean, you know, go look at the ingredient deck on chicken nuts. gets in fast food restaurants. I mean, there’s lots of ingredients. I mean, lots of, there’s lots of ingredients so and that just in all fairness, like, lots of ingredients does not necessarily mean that if you get a vegetable soup, it might have 20 ingredients in there, right? But it doesn’t mean that that’s bad, just because there are numerous ingredients. Now, if you start seeing ingredients on there, like, you know, trans fats or other things, I think that’s a problem. But I like to just look at the nutritional panel, right? Yeah, like, you know, is it packed with sodium and saturated fat and cholesterol or not? Those are the things that I would be concerned about. And, you know, if you are looking for protein, you’re gonna be happy with all these products. As you know, most of these things, most of these burgers, in the protein space are packing like 20 grams of protein, our Miko protein that we we grow here, if you’re fermentation is a complete protein complete amino acid profile. And for those of you who are concerned about protein digestibility, and you actually know what PD cast means. It’s like the digestibility score for various foods. And for various proteins. Ours is a point nine, six, which 1.0 is the highest you can get. So it’s pretty near perfect. So you know, there’s just a lot of benefits to getting your protein without all the baggage associated with animal products.
Scott D Clary 41:15
No, I appreciate that. I also wanted to just because you you evangelize a lot, regarding just, well, you’re you have a podcast. So I always give people the opportunity to drop their stuff. But I just wanted to speak about your podcast in particular, because it’s called business for good podcast, to evangelize a lot of good ethical practices just for business in general. So what are what are some things that like, get you excited, not just about your industry, but just about ethical social show socially responsible business, some things that maybe you highlight on your show, or things that the average person just doesn’t know and should potentially look into more or, or get behind, that’s something that, you know, is a is something that we really have to address in the world of business.
Paul Shapiro 42:03
Sure, so I was very kind of you Scott to bring it up. So I hosted the business for good podcast, and we spotlight companies that are making that not a matter of like, you know, companies that just have like good practices, it’s companies where the very core of their business is to solve a serious problem. So for example, we feature companies that are creating alternatives to plastic that can be substituted. So you know, things like fermentation based plastic alternatives, so that they’re they’ll biodegrade. Or other companies that are, for example, dealing with ways to neutralize and store nuclear waste, or one of my favorite episodes is one that we just did it, which looks at the death industry. And so right now, you know, most most people are getting cremated these days. And that’s one final act of pollution, right? It’s a lot of air pollution, a lot of greenhouse gases in order to cremate yourself, well, you could then also just get buried in a casket. But that’s a big problem, too, because they’re cutting down trees to make all these coffins and they put a concrete liner in there, they hermetically seal you off from the rest of the world down there, which is not not not what you want, you want to recycle your nutrients back into nature. So one company run by a woman named Katrina spade her company’s called recompose. And what they’ve done is invented and patented a method of actual human composting. And they’ve created a Center in Seattle where you can basically just like you preorder a plot in a cemetery, you pre order your own composting, and they’ve changed laws now in Washington, Oregon and Colorado to allow for this real human composting method. And they have done scores upon scores of human compost, where it’s really cool, where they can create rich soil that you can either then you know, put in your garden, you know, if you’re, if you’re a surviving family member, or you can, you know, put it in a national park to give better soil there, and so on. But so these are basically companies that are actually solving some serious problems and make the world a better place, whether environmentally or maybe from an animal welfare perspective, or a public health perspective or more. And it’s been a fun ride. For me, we’ve done about 75 episodes to date, we’re recording this in September of 2021. To see just how many entrepreneurs are out there, trying to use innovation to solve serious problems. It’s really inspirational for me to be able to do it.
Scott D Clary 44:14
It is inspirational and and I’m putting on on the spot here. So if you if you don’t have a resource, that’s totally okay. But do you have a resource or group or a place that people who care about socially responsible companies can go and find out more about just like, obviously, to check out your podcast? But I mean, like, is there? Is there councils or is there organizations that support these types of efforts in particular?
Paul Shapiro 44:38
Yeah, absolutely. Scott. So especially in the alternative protein space, there’s a great nonprofit organization that provides extensive resources for free. It’s called The Good Food Institute. Their website is gfi.org. And they have enormous numbers of resources. So they’ve got guides on how to start your own company. They have databases of all the investors in this space so you can figure out who’s interested in what they have an entire spreadsheet just on, quote, potential co founders. So people were looking for other co founders to start companies with, and you can see their LinkedIn and what their specialty and their interests are. So they can find somebody who’s, you know, complimentary to you, if you, for example, have a business background, you need a technical scientific co founder, you on there and find that. So again, the Good Food Institute is really good resources for for entrepreneurs who want to get involved in the alternative protein space.
Scott D Clary 45:28
Amazing, okay, and then I’m going to do some rapid fire to pull some career insights to you. But before we pivot, was there anything that we didn’t touch on that you wanted to speak about? And also, I got to get all your socials website, so drop that as well.
Paul Shapiro 45:42
You know, the only thing I’d say is that, you know, I’ve now been running a startup for the last three and a half years. And you know, the saying that when you start your own company, you’ll sleep like a baby, because you’re going to wake up every two hours and cry. And so I’ve never I’ve never heard that one before. You know, I kind of feel it, right? There’s always challenges. There’s always hurdles. Like, every day, I come home, my wife asked me what are the best and the worst things that happened today. And usually, they’re both pretty, pretty substantial. So it’s a lot of it’s a lot of challenges. But the thing that I would really recommend for those who want to take the entrepreneurial plunge is simply to start, don’t get don’t become paralyzed by analyzing things. Don’t try to read all the books. Like, I’m not against that. But you know, if you want to learn how to play soccer, nobody’s going to tell you, Hey, go read some books on how to play soccer. They tell you get on the field and start practicing. So if you want to learn about startups, and entrepreneurialism, either, maybe join a startup or start your own and actually start practicing on the field. The problems that have the planet and humanity are facing are very severe, they’re very urgent, they’re in need of rectification very, very rapidly. And so we just don’t have time we have the luxury to wait around for you to solve these problems. So I’d encourage you to get in the game and and start shooting the ball. I just want
Scott D Clary 46:55
to take a second and thank the sponsor of today’s episode. HubSpot. Now, it’s hard to build the business hard to make your dreams a reality when it feels like you’re spending all your time working on your CRM working on mundane admin tasks. But the HubSpot CRM platform is purpose built for scaling with your business and those big dreams of yours. So it’s impossible to grow now, HubSpot has intuitive visual workflows, it has bought builders, the HubSpot CRM platform can automate campaigns across your website, email, social media, digital ads and chat for clear communication across all your channels. Zero mixed messages. With the HubSpot teams feature, you can organize your account by teams and segment leads soar through content and easily view team performance reports and KPI dashboards. And thanks to sequences, you can create flows that automate sales outreach, follow up time to personalized email so you can scale your customer relationships like never before the HubSpot CRM platform is easy to implement and ready to scale. So dream big. Learn more about the HubSpot CRM platform and how it can help your business grow. email@example.com. Amazing. And then also where do people reach out connect with you social website, all of that. And also also for better meet?
Paul Shapiro 48:25
Cool, yeah, I’d love to hear from you. Our website is better meet.co. Again, better meet.co. And if you’re interested in my book, clean meat, you can buy it anywhere books are sold, or you can go to the books official website, which is just clean meat.com. Again, clean meat.com And you can get in touch with me through any of those websites.
Scott D Clary 48:43
Okay, perfect. Okay, so we’ll do some rapid fire and feel free to, you know, extrapolate or keep it as short as you’d like. It’s totally whatever you want. Biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your own personal life. What was that?
Paul Shapiro 48:56
You know, I’m very grateful to have a wife who is like, extremely supportive and a wonderful person. And we I wonder how I ever survived without her and without being married. So that that was a challenge in and of itself, I can assure you for many reasons. But I’m very grateful to have survived that period and gone on to being in a marriage, which I’m very happy about.
Scott D Clary 49:21
Amazing. And that now you’re going to answer two questions at once. But the next question is, who was the person who was really impactful in your life? And what did they teach you?
Paul Shapiro 49:29
Yeah, well, I won’t give the easy answer and say my wife instead of actually gonna mention a guy named Paul Schwartz. So Paul Schwartz is a retired entrepreneur is now in his 70s. And he did, he did some really cool companies and did very well for himself. And my wife and I were living in his in his house we were renting from him when I decided to start this company and he really took me under his wing and helped to not only become an initial investor in the company, but also to really help guided the business oriented aspects of the company and teach me about that, which I knew very little, if anything about at all. And even to this day, three and a half years later, he still acts essentially as a pro bono CFO to our company. So Paul Schwartz, who at our company, my name is Paul Shapiro. He’s Paul Schwartz. So we call him Paul Sr. And me, Paul, Jr. and he has been a great mentor.
Scott D Clary 50:23
Amazing. Do you have a book or podcast or some sort of resource you’d recommend people go check out that helped you?
Paul Shapiro 50:31
Um, yeah, there, there are so many that it’s hard to. It’s hard to, like the owner only pick one. But I will say that I have learned from listening to masters of scale, which is of course, Reid Hoffman’s podcast, which is really useful. He’s the founder of LinkedIn, co founder of LinkedIn rather. And I’ve learned from it and really enjoyed it. Very good. If you could tell your Oh, and one book I tell you Shoe Dog was really inspiration. Oh,
Scott D Clary 50:57
Shoe Dog, Phil Knight. Yeah, that’s a good yeah. That’s a very good one. Oh, his company, again, a mess. But it was good.
Paul Shapiro 51:06
Yeah. Yeah. So Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. And, you know, he basically tells about all the near death experiences they had and all the problems that they had. And like, it’s amazing. They overcame all of them. So I was inspired by that story. Because, you know, I always like to read stories about people who have succeeded in spite of like, tremendous adversity, because that gives me like, when people fail, it makes them not only more human, but it also makes them more relatable for me that way, when I’m thinking, oh, you know, I fell down, I can get up just like they did. And so just hear my success. Like, you know, you think about, like, you know, people are like, oh, all I do is win? Like I don’t really want to hear that, you know, because that’s not me. I can’t relate to it. I want to hear about people who lost people who failed, and they got back up and move kept moving forward. You know, it’s kind of like the the great philosopher, rocky Bobo, of course, who said, you know, in life, it’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And that is how winning is done. Those are the stories that I want to hear people got hit people who fell down and they got back up. And so if you like that type of story, go read shoo dog gets really good.
Scott D Clary 52:07
Amen. Good. Yeah, that’s a good recommendation. If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?
Paul Shapiro 52:14
Oh, God, there’s so many things. God, we have time time. I know, there may not be officially a time limit here. But there’s so much but one of the things I would have thought about back then that I wish I would have thought about was whether the nonprofit route could do as much good for the problem that I’m trying to solve, which is feeding humanity sustainably without destroying the planet in the process. Or whether we just need more technological innovation. Like maybe instead of doing what I did, maybe I would have been better off actually studying things like microbiology, or maybe I would have been better off becoming an entrepreneur two decades earlier. So I don’t know you can’t go back and redo the game, unfortunately. And I’m proud of what I accomplished in my career in the nonprofit space. I worked with some phenomenal people who I am so grateful for those experiences. But I do think like if I could go back and do it over, I might have started trying to commercialize animal free meats two decades earlier, and maybe we’d be in a different boat. Now, if we had done
Scott D Clary 53:12
that. Yeah. Interesting. And then last question, what does success mean to you?
Paul Shapiro 53:20
I want to make the world a better place by as defined as saying there’s less suffering and more happiness in the world because I had lived right so every one of us is causing suffering every day. So we’re creating pollution, we’re hurting people’s feelings inadvertently, like all these things that we do, that are just creating a trail of suffering. But we can also try to alleviate suffering on the planet. And I really believe that one of the greatest causes of suffering is raising animals for food. It’s a huge cause of animal suffering. That’s a huge cause of human suffering, climate change, and more. And so what I’m trying to do is to alleviate more suffering than I caused so that I can realistically believe at the end of my life, that there was less suffering on the planet because I had existed than if I had never been born. That’s what I want to accomplish and that’s what success would look like for me.
I’m Amira, Rose Davis, historian and co host of the sports podcast, burn it all down. And now I’m hosting the new season of American prodigy all about black girls in gymnastics. For the last 40 years black gymnasts have moved from the margins to the core of the sport and change gymnastics along the way. Now they tell their stories, you’ll meet trailblazers, like Diane Durham superstars like Jordan chiles, and everyone in between. Listen to American prodigies on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.