Business for Good Podcast
Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.
info_outline Is Alt-Protein a National Security Issue? Rep. Ro Khanna Thinks So 05/15/2022
Is Alt-Protein a National Security Issue? Rep. Ro Khanna Thinks So Many already believe that fostering an alt-protein industry in the US is important for helping the environment, but is it also going to protect American national security? We’re already importing much of our clean energy tech from Asia, but will we soon be importing our clean protein from other parts of the world, too? , a Democrat from California representing Silicon Valley, doesn’t want that to happen. He’s not only to invest in alt-protein, he’s recently in Congress calling on the Director of National Intelligence to submit an intelligence report on the effects of increased production and consumption of alternative proteins on American national security. The bill even calls for the DNI to explore whether, and to what extent, progress in the production and consumption of alternative proteins made by foreign countries like China constitutes a competitive threat to American economic interests.
info_outline Reproductive Freedom in the Developing World: Anna Christina Thorsheim and Family Empowerment Media 05/01/2022
Reproductive Freedom in the Developing World: Anna Christina Thorsheim and Family Empowerment Media While it’s a charity, Family Empowerment Media tries to run like a business in that it relies heavily on measurable, evidence-based strategies that produce a significant return on their investment. Though the return they’re seeking isn’t a financial one, but rather is in the form of the social change they’re working to create, mainly by empowering the use of family planning by families that are seeking to have fewer children in developing African nations. Started in 2020, the sole mission of the group is to create radio content featuring Nigerian families talking about their positive experiences with family planning. Not only are donors backing these social entrepreneurs, so is the Nigerian government. Why? On average fertility rates in Nigeria stand currently at more than five children per woman. Generally speaking, the poorest countries tend to have the highest fertility rates while wealthier countries have lower fertility rates. So while in many African countries each woman often has on average more than five children, in wealthier parts of the world, like South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, each woman has on average less than two children. The US is also at less than two children per woman, though immigration to the US prevents the country’s population from shrinking.
info_outline Oat-to-Market Strategy: Mike Messersmith and the Oatly Story 04/15/2022
Oat-to-Market Strategy: Mike Messersmith and the Oatly Story If you’ve been listening to the show for some time, you know that replacing animals in the food system is a topic very close to my heart. While the meat and egg industries in the grand picture have still been largely unaffected by plant-based competitors, that’s not the case in the milk industry, where the explosion of plant-based milks has very tangibly cut into demand for cow’s milk. Gone are the days when almond milk and soy milk were for vegans—now they’re for everyone. But just a few years ago, a new entrant into the plant-based milk world emerged. In 2015 oat milk was far less than 1 percent of the plant-based milk world. In fact, people hearing the term “oat milk” were probably more likely to think they’d heard people talking about “goat milk.” Not anymore. Thanks largely to one company, Oatly, oat milk is now the belle of the alt-milk ball. After three decades of toiling away far out of mainstream consciousness, Oatly has boomed, leading to its mega-successful 2021 IPO.
info_outline Ep. 86 | From Tech to Table: Richard Munson and the Food & Ag Tech Revolution 04/01/2022
Ep. 86 | From Tech to Table: Richard Munson and the Food & Ag Tech Revolution I try to read any new book that comes out on the topic, and that includes Richard Munson’s new book . I really enjoyed reading this book by someone who’s far more well-known for his deep-dive biographies of visionaries like Nikola Tesla and Jacque Cousteau, but now has written a new book featuring dozens of entrepreneurs seeking to create a more sustainable food system. And they’re doing this not by returning to 19th century agriculture, but by embracing 21st century food and agriculture technology. In this interview we discuss everything from how new tech can displace old jobs, why some environmentalists don’t seem that down with new tech that could benefit the environment, and what the future of food and ag may bring. It’s a wide-ranging conversation about a book with a wide-range of topics and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
info_outline Ep. 85 | A Prime Pivot: Why Kimberlie Le and Prime Roots Are Going All in on Deli Meats 03/15/2022
Ep. 85 | A Prime Pivot: Why Kimberlie Le and Prime Roots Are Going All in on Deli Meats For those of you who’ve been enjoying Business for Good for some time, today’s guest may sound familiar. That’s because Kim Le is not only our guest on Episode 85, but she was also our guest on our 49th episode back in 2020. If you’ve not heard it, I do recommend you go back and check it out, which will be helpful in seeing just how much has changed for this young startup which was cofounded by undergrads and has raised $20 million so far. As you’ll hear in this episode, is undergoing quite a transformation as it settles into its new 20,000 square foot production facility in Berkeley. I was fortunate enough to visit the Prime Roots HQ, which is where we taped this episode in person, right after I’d enjoyed their new products, which were truly phenomenal.
info_outline Ep. 84 | Investing in a Post-Animal Economy: Elysabeth Alfano and VegTech ETF 03/01/2022
Ep. 84 | Investing in a Post-Animal Economy: Elysabeth Alfano and VegTech ETF One of the most common questions I get from listeners is: how can I invest in companies you feature on the show? Well, most of them are startups backed by VC dollars, and that means the average retail investor isn’t typically going to be able to invest in these early stage private companies. But what if there were a way to invest money in an index fund that only included companies actively working to replace the exploitation of animals in our economy? It turns out that there is now such a fund, and it was co-founded by . Perhaps most well-known as the host of , Elysabeth has now started the , which is traded on The New York Stock Exchange as . Think of it like the S&P 500, but instead more like the Plant-Based 40. That’s because this Exchange-Traded Fund is a collection of 40 publicly-traded companies up and down the animal-free supply chain. This isn’t companies that simply don’t use animals, but rather companies actively involved in actually replacing animal use. That includes well-known players like Beyond Meat and Oatly, but also the ingredients companies that supply them and more. The basic bet is that over time, the inefficiency of animal use will drag down the companies that are dependent on it, while animal-free companies will thrive.
info_outline Ep. 83 | Will Fungi Free Fish? Anne Palermo is Betting on Fermentation at Aqua Cultured Foods 02/15/2022
Ep. 83 | Will Fungi Free Fish? Anne Palermo is Betting on Fermentation at Aqua Cultured Foods Humanity’s relentless demand for seafood is emptying the oceans with little end in sight. Does the path to freeing fish from us run through fungi fermentation? That’s exactly what Anne Palermo is betting. As you’ll hear in this interview, Anne is a former asset manager at Morgan Stanley who decided mid-career that she wanted to start her own chocolate company. After growing her first startup to millions in revenue, this mom of three got hooked on the need for animal-free protein and pivoted to start a new company focused on saving the oceans. Anne began growing mycelium—the root-like structure of fungi—on wet cardboard in her kitchen and to her pleasant surprise, she found that she could tune the mycelium into various kinds of whole muscle seafood mimicry. Soon, was born. Fast forward to today, just one year later, and Anne has raised millions of dollars, hired staff, filed provisional patent applications, partnered with a major food company, and more. Anne’s vision involves turning the tide on the war that humanity is waging on oceanic animals while still allowing seafood lovers to enjoy their favorite foods, but just made via fermentation rather than fishing.
info_outline Ep. 82 | Engineering Our Way Out of Single-Use Plastics: Troy Swope and the Footprint Story 02/01/2022
Ep. 82 | Engineering Our Way Out of Single-Use Plastics: Troy Swope and the Footprint Story You know when you get a food product like those Beyond Meat sausages and see that instead of plastic, it’s in one of those biodegradable trays or bowls? Have you ever wondered how they do that? I mean, that bowl needs to repel oil and water from its surface without getting soggy, but still be actually biodegradable. Seems impossible. Well, it turns out that this feat isn’t only a great technological innovation that helps replace plastics; it’s also a great business, as Troy Swope has proven. Founded in 2014, Troy's company Footprint grew from humble roots to now having 4,000 employees, $50 million in annual revenue, and production facilities around the world. With all this success, the company is seeking to go public later in 2022, reportedly with a valuation of $1.6 billion. It’s quite a story, and one that proves that some of humanity’s most pressing problems, like plastic pollution, are also some of our best business opportunities.
info_outline Ep. 81 | The Rapid Rise, High-Profile Fall, and Resilient Recovery of Juicero’s Doug Evans 01/15/2022
Ep. 81 | The Rapid Rise, High-Profile Fall, and Resilient Recovery of Juicero’s Doug Evans This is a story about how one man entered startup life, rose to great prominence, got battered in the press and endured a very public downfall, and then got back up again and kept pushing his life’s mission to improve public health forward.
info_outline Ep. 80 | Is What You Believe About Food Sustainability Wrong? Robert Paarlberg Thinks So. 01/01/2022
Ep. 80 | Is What You Believe About Food Sustainability Wrong? Robert Paarlberg Thinks So. When it comes to food, we often hear that switching to organic, local, non-GMO production methods are what’s best for the planet. But, what if the preponderance of scientific evidence doesn’t support such claims, and that actually both the planet and public health are better off with the synthetic fertilizer banned by organic standards; that buying local may not be better for the planet; and that it’s perfectly safe to eat genetically modified plants?
info_outline Ep. 79 | From Sophomore to CEO: Jessica Schwabach of Sundial Foods is Flying on Plant-Based Wings 12/15/2021
Ep. 79 | From Sophomore to CEO: Jessica Schwabach of Sundial Foods is Flying on Plant-Based Wings For real: What were you doing during your sophomore year of college? Probably not what Jessica Schwabach was doing, which was starting her own plant-based meat company. Two years later, Jessica has gone through two prestigious accelerator programs, created products that have been sold in dozens of stores, and just raised a $4 million seed round, including investment from food giant Nestle.
info_outline Ep. 78 | A Conversation with NYC’s Mayor-Elect Eric Adams 11/15/2021
Ep. 78 | A Conversation with NYC’s Mayor-Elect Eric Adams A year and a half ago, a guy few people had ever heard of came on to this show’s 44th episode to talk both about the business of police reform as well as his new book advocating plant-based eating. At that time, he was also rumored to be considering running for NYC's highest office. Well, spoiler alert: he won the mayoral race! So we're re-running our conversation with Eric Adams now that he's poised to take the reins of power in America's largest city.
info_outline Ep. 77 | Creating a Cultivated Meat Community: Anita Broellechs and Alex Shirazi 11/01/2021
Ep. 77 | Creating a Cultivated Meat Community: Anita Broellechs and Alex Shirazi This is a story of two people who despite not having experience in the cultivated meat space felt so strongly about building a community around it that they started their own podcast, called Cultured Meat and Future Foods, their own conference, the Cultured Meat Symposium, and are now working on a children’s book about cultivated meat together as well.
info_outline Ep 76 | Is Your Cat Ready to Eat Cultivated Mouse Meat? Shannon Falconer and Because Animals Think So 10/15/2021
Ep 76 | Is Your Cat Ready to Eat Cultivated Mouse Meat? Shannon Falconer and Because Animals Think So There’s already plant-based pet food, but what about growing actual animal meat for all of our carnivorous best friends? The company featured in this episode, Because Animals, is trying to do just that. And they’re starting with cultivated mouse meat for your cat.
info_outline Ep 75 | The Sweet Side of Starting a (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream Company: Aylon Steinhart & Eclipse Foods 10/01/2021
Ep 75 | The Sweet Side of Starting a (Dairy-Free) Ice Cream Company: Aylon Steinhart & Eclipse Foods In 2019, two friends were both working in the alt-protein sector, one at the Good Food Institute and the other at Eat Just. Even though Aylon Steinhart and Thomas Bowman were both doing great things to advance the animal-free protein movement, they wondered if they should try their own hands at co-founding a food tech start-up that would put cows out to pasture and mimic dairy with plants. After serious deliberation, they both left their secure jobs to team up and found Eclipse Foods.
info_outline Ep 74 | A Financial Journalist’s Prescription for Making the Economy Work for Animals 09/15/2021
Ep 74 | A Financial Journalist’s Prescription for Making the Economy Work for Animals In his new book, How to Love Animals in a Human-Shaped World, Henry takes his readers on a wild ride through our relationship with animals, including getting a job working at a slaughterhouse himself. Henry repeatedly weaves personal experiences like this one into his narrative, while also making prescriptions for a bold reshaping of the parts of our economy that currently involve animal exploitation.
info_outline Ep 73 |From Dust to Dust...or to Soil: Katrina Spade and the Recompose Vision for an Eco-Friendlier Death Industry 09/01/2021
Ep 73 |From Dust to Dust...or to Soil: Katrina Spade and the Recompose Vision for an Eco-Friendlier Death Industry Katrina Spade is on a mission to offer a better way to deal with human corpses, and it involves a process called natural organic reduction. It’s essentially a fancy way of saying she’s invented a method of accelerated composting for your body.
info_outline Ep 72 | Plastic that Won’t Last Forever: Kristin Taylor and the Radical Plastics Story 08/15/2021
Ep 72 | Plastic that Won’t Last Forever: Kristin Taylor and the Radical Plastics Story Sure, diamonds—including lab-grown—may be forever. But does plastic also have to be? Not so, according to Kristin Taylor, CEO of Radical Plastics.
info_outline Ep. 71 Life as a Scrappy Startup Exec: Doni Curkendall and The Better Meat Co. 08/01/2021
Ep. 71 Life as a Scrappy Startup Exec: Doni Curkendall and The Better Meat Co. Doni Curkendall was born and raised in Mexico, came to the US as a seven-year-old, and when she entered the workforce started as a receptionist at Goodwill. As the years went on, Doni was continually promoted, got her MBA, and eventually was a Vice President at Goodwill overseeing more than 200 employees. But two and a half years ago, as fate would have it, Doni and I began exploring whether Doni could help run my own then-one-year-old, The Better Meat Co.
info_outline Ep. 70 | The Second Publicly Traded Plant-Based Meat Company: Mitchell Scott and The Very Good Food Co. 07/15/2021
Ep. 70 | The Second Publicly Traded Plant-Based Meat Company: Mitchell Scott and The Very Good Food Co. You’ve probably heard of Beyond Meat’s big IPO and their success as a publicly traded company. Sure, they were the first plant-based meat company to go public, but are you aware that is the second? As you’ll hear in this episode, what started just a few years ago as a dude selling his own plant-based concoctions at a farmers market on a Canadian island has turned into a publicly traded company with a $300M market cap. In between was a kickstarter, a plant-based butcher shop, an appearance on the Canadian version of Shark Tank (), and more. The Very Good Food Co is now selling a wide array of butcher-type plant-based meats throughout North America, they acquired a plant-based cheese company, they just opened a new production factory in California, and recently posted their first million-dollar month. Their CEO Michelle Scott here discusses their journey, when they’ll be at price parity with conventional meat, labeling challenges, and more. It’s an impressive story, and one that just might inspire you to follow in their footsteps. Discussed in this episode Mitchell discusses books like and . Paul recommends , , and . Paul discusses his plant-based turducken, the ! More about Mitchell Scott Mitchell Scott is the CEO of The Very Good Food Co., the world’s second plant-based meat IPO. The company has seen substantial success since its flotation in the Canadian stock market in 2021. The Very Good Food Co. designs, develops, produces, distributes, and sells a variety of plant-based meat and other food alternatives. Mitchell has a passion for building world class companies that leave a positive impact on the planet. His mission is to employ plant-based food technology to create products that are delicious while maintaining a wholesome nutritional profile. They’ve launched the Very Good Cheese Co with more lines of products coming in the near future.
info_outline Ep. 69 | The Sharks Tried to Buy Her Plant-Based Fried Chicken Company: Deborah Torres and the Atlas Monroe Story 07/01/2021
Ep. 69 | The Sharks Tried to Buy Her Plant-Based Fried Chicken Company: Deborah Torres and the Atlas Monroe Story So often you hear about start-ups that raise millions or even tens of millions of dollars from venture capitalists before beginning to generate revenue and start making a dent in the marketplace. That is very far from the story of our guest in this episode.
info_outline Ep. 68 | Using Tech to Drive Change: Google.org and Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink 06/15/2021
Ep. 68 | Using Tech to Drive Change: Google.org and Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink How often do you use Google’s services? If you’re like me, it’s many times per hour. So you may think you know all about Google.com. But how much do you know about Google.org?
info_outline Ep. 67 | Where’s the Animal-Free Materials Revolution? Nicole Rawling of the Material Innovation Initiative Wants You to Launch It 06/01/2021
Ep. 67 | Where’s the Animal-Free Materials Revolution? Nicole Rawling of the Material Innovation Initiative Wants You to Launch It You’ve likely noticed that there’s been an explosion of investment into the animal-free food space. Enter the Material Innovation Initiative, a relatively new nonprofit organization started by veterans of the animal welfare and animal-free food space. Their goal: to be the Good Food Institute of animal-free materials, helping to attract investment and entrepreneurial activity to build a new industry of animal-free fur, leather, silk, and more.
info_outline Pineapple Express to Disrupting Leather: Mélanie Broyé-Engelkes and Piñatex 05/15/2021
Pineapple Express to Disrupting Leather: Mélanie Broyé-Engelkes and Piñatex Enter Piñatex. It’s a leather alternative that’s made from the leaves of the pineapple plant, which are typically considered an agricultural waste product. These upcycled leaves are converted into a functional and luxurious-feeling material that can be used for everything from shoes to handbags, and more. And indeed, that’s already what’s happening. Today brands like Hugo Boss, H&M, and hundreds of others, are using Piñatex.
info_outline Ep. 65 | The Billionaire Out to End Factory Farming 05/01/2021
Ep. 65 | The Billionaire Out to End Factory Farming How often have you wished that more billionaires used their money to do good in the world? Well, you’re in luck, because in this episode we talk with British billionaire Jim Mellon. As you’ll hear in this interview, Jim has little hope that humans will give up eating meat, so he’s betting instead on simply making meat without the animals.
info_outline Ep. 64 | From Seafood to Seaweed: Monica Talbert and the Plant-Based Seafood Co. 04/15/2021
Ep. 64 | From Seafood to Seaweed: Monica Talbert and the Plant-Based Seafood Co. Our oceans are in dire trouble, and a big part of the reason is because we’re killing so many aquatic animals for food. But if you want hope, look no further than Monica Talbert, whose story is sure to inspire.
info_outline You Can Buy a Piece of the Mycelium Revolution: Joanne Rodriguez and Mycocycle Are Literally Turning Trash into Treasure 04/01/2021
You Can Buy a Piece of the Mycelium Revolution: Joanne Rodriguez and Mycocycle Are Literally Turning Trash into Treasure Landfills are, well, filling up. We’re running out of places to put our trash, and the trash we’ve landfilled won’t decompose for centuries. But, what if we could take a lot of trash and seed it with fungal cultures that would eat it and render it no longer toxic within just a few weeks rather than having to wait centuries? That’s exactly what Mycocycle is planning to do, and we’ve got their CEO, Joanne Rodriguez, on the show to talk about it.
info_outline Ep. 62 | Maximizing the Good We Can Do: A Conversation with Peter Singer 03/15/2021
Ep. 62 | Maximizing the Good We Can Do: A Conversation with Peter Singer Peter Singer is an author and ethicist, and has been routinely called the most influential philosopher alive. He’s widely credited with kickstarting the modern animal protection movement with his 1975 mega-bestseller Animal Liberation, and with popularizing what’s now called the effective altruism movement through his early writings on poverty and more recently with his 2009 book The Life You Can Save.
info_outline Ep. 61 | Modernizing Contraception with Your Choice Therapeutics’ Akash Bakshi 03/01/2021
Ep. 61 | Modernizing Contraception with Your Choice Therapeutics’ Akash Bakshi As you’ll hear from company CEO Akash Bakshi, Your Choice started as an idea in a UC-Berkeley lab, ended up going through the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program, and is now a funded startup aiming to bring new contraceptive categories to market. One is a contraceptive gel that’s both effective at reducing the risk of pregnancy and STDs, and the other is an oral, non-hormonal pill that men can take to render their sperm temporarily unable to impregnate a woman’s egg.
info_outline Ep. 60 | Marrying Cultivated Meat & Plant-Based Meat for the Best of Both Worlds: Brian Spears Shares New Age Meats’ Gameplan 02/22/2021
Ep. 60 | Marrying Cultivated Meat & Plant-Based Meat for the Best of Both Worlds: Brian Spears Shares New Age Meats’ Gameplan In this episode, Brian argues that you don’t need to make cultivated meat products entirely from animal cells. He argues instead that you can not only control costs by combining plant proteins with animal cells, but you can actually create novel and superior culinary experiences when you’re not simply relying solely on animal cells to do the job alone.