February 7, 2020
Guest Christie Lagally, Rebellyous Foods
Hosted by Jamie Harris, Sentience Institute
Christie Lagally of Rebellyous Foods on scaling up high-quality plant-based foods.
Since about 75% or so (and that’s just a rough estimate)... of plant-based products on the market today are actually made on off-the-shelf meat processing equipment, we’re looking to actually change that part of the industry by actually designing new production equipment that is appropriate for the production of plant-based meat… By creating new production methods and new equipment at Rebellyous, we can bring down the cost of plant-based meat, increase the quality, and increase the volume of our products to well beyond what it is currently, [just] 0.2% of the meat industry.
Many advocates hope that conventional animal products will eventually be entirely replaced by animal-free foods. But what are the challenges in the way of achieving this goal? What role can entrepreneurs play in encouraging change?
Christie Lagally is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Rebellyous Foods, a company that is working to produce high-quality plant-based chicken nuggets in large quantities. She previously worked for 15 years in mechanical engineering and has also worked with the Good Food Institute and volunteered for the Humane Society of the United States.
Topics discussed in the episode:
- Why and how Rebellyous Foods focuses on developing better tools for scaling the production of plant-based products (2:02)
- The specific equipment types and processes that the plant-based food industry currently relies on that need to be replaced (7:34)
- The uses and limitations of extruders (16:45)
- Who designs, produces, and sells the equipment that is used in plant-based products (19:02)
- The technical difficulties in producing plant-based chicken products compared to plant-based burgers (24:52)
- Developing plant-based fish products (33:14)
- Business to business vs. business to consumer strategies (36:43)
- The importance of branding in marketing animal-free food tech products (41:00)
- The use of engineering experience in developing plant-based foods (43:07)
- The importance of mission alignment in working in animal-free food technology startups (50:23)
- The transferability of experience in nonprofits to work in animal-free food technology companies (52:28)
- Christie’s experience with political actions for animals and views on the interaction between animal advocacy nonprofits and the animal-free food technology movement (56:45)
- The investment and support that Rebellyous Foods has received and the role of impact investment (1:04:48)
Resources discussed in the episode:
Resources by or about Christie Lagally’s work:
Resources for using this podcast for a discussion group:
Transcript (Automated, imperfect)
Jamie: 00:00:00 Welcome to the Sentience Institute podcast where we interview activists, entrepreneurs, and researchers about the most effective strategies to expand humanity's moral circle with a focus on expanding the circle to farmed animals. I'm Jamie Harris, researcher Sentience Institute, and to animal advocacy careers. Welcome to our fifth episode of the podcast. I was excited to have Christie Lagally on the podcast because she is well placed to talk about the technical and strategic issues facing proponents of animal free food technology. She previously worked for The Good Food Institute, who are probably the largest and best known nonprofit directly offering support for the development and marketization of animal free food technologies. This category includes both high-tech plant based foods and cultured meat, also known as clean meat or cultivated meat, which is meat that is grown from animal cells without requiring the slaughter of animals. She has subsequently founded Rebellyous Foods, a startup that focuses on producing and selling plant-based chicken nuggets to food service companies.
Jamie: 00:01:04 This is exciting because meat chickens are much more numerous than other farm land animals and probably suffer more. So I was keen to talk to her about both her experiences with Rebellyous foods and to views on the animal free food technology sector more widely on our website. We have a transcript of this episode as well as timestamps for particular topics. We also have suggested questions and resources that can be used to run an event around this podcast in your local animal advocacy or effective altruism group. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have questions about this and we'd be happy to help. Our guest today is Christie Lagally. Christie is the founder and chief executive officer of the plant-based meat company, Rebellyous foods, formerly called Seattle Food Tech. Christie was a senior scientist for the good food Institute before working at GFI.
Jamie: 00:01:45 She worked for 15 years in mechanical engineering and holds five patents in manufacturing technology. She's also the founder of humane voters of Washington and a Washington state council member for the humane society of the United States. Welcome to the podcast, Christie.
Christie: 00:01:57 Thank you so much for having me.
Jamie: 00:02:00 You're very welcome. So we've had plant-based chicken nuggets for years now in the UK. Corn has been producing them for some time and there are plenty of other brands. One of my favorites is Fry's foods. A number of supermarkets have own brand products now too. I'm less familiar with the U S market, but I'm pretty sure that Gardein and other companies have been producing nuggets there for years too. So what makes Rebellyous Foods stand out from these companies and products?
Christie: 00:02:24 That's a fantastic question because you're absolutely right. There are a number of plant based meat companies that have been operating in the United States for quite a long time. In fact, in the United States we've been producing plant based meat as an industry since as early as 1899 there have been a variety of plant based meat products, you know, all the way through the 19 hundreds and obviously in the two thousands and the 2010s which of course that decade just ended. There are just a wide variety of products that people have had to choose from. And for specifically chicken, we've been making chicken nuggets out of plant based products almost as long as we've been making chicken nuggets out of animal-based products. Specifically chicken nuggets were designed and first marketed in the 1950s and the 1960s are really coming into popularity in later decades after that. So what makes Rebellyous different is that we are attempting to really bridge the gap between the very, very tiny industry that is the plant based meat industry versus the behemoth of an industry that is the animal meat industry.
Christie: 00:03:28 So as many of your listeners probably know in the United States, we produce almost 105 billion pounds of animal-based meat every single year in the United States. But by comparison we only produce in the plant-based meat industry about 0.2% of that animal meat volume. And as a result, the plant based meat industry is just a fraction of what the animal, sorry, the plant-based meat industry. It's just a fraction of what the animal based meat industry is. So what we're trying to do at Rebellyous is designed new methods to make plant based meat so that we can actually bridge the gap between the tiny and small volume industry that is the plant based meat industry and really start to scale it. So it can compete one-on-one in price and volume with animal-based meat. So it's not just about the product and it's mostly about the ability to scale and to create better, higher quality and higher volume, plant based meat products to effectively serve food service market and some day beyond that. But to effectively make plant-based to meet a true genuine solution to issues like climate change, human health and animal welfare.
Jamie: 00:04:41 Sure. Yeah. Really interesting. Uh, and a focus that is shared on the sort of "our process" section of your website, which emphasizes the ability to produce products at scale. So I'm guessing from your emphasis on this, on the website and in what you've just said, that you see Rebellyous as having a bit of a competitive advantage over other companies in that aspect. I'm wondering if you're able to summarize why you see yourself as having that competitive advantage
Christie: 00:05:07 question. You know, there's a lot of different ways to make plant-based meat, um, in fact, in terms of the ability to make these products, there's a lot of different parts of our industry that have come up with different ways. There's like extrusion, there's just using off the shelf meat processing equipment that is used for making the beyond burger and the impossible burger. Um, then there's even just traditional sausage making methods where basically you, you know, take plant based proteins and mix them up just like you would ground meat and then put them in casing and then actually regrind that again in order to kind of make the texture of sausage. So there's a lot of different ways and essentially there's kind of handmade ways and traditional ways and then food industry processing ways and what we're actually doing looking at this manufacturing process for making the largest number of plant based meat, which is things like burgers, like the impossible burger, the beyond burger processed meat products like chicken nuggets, chicken patties, chicken strips and even fish sticks that are essentially made on off the shelf meat processing equipment.
Christie: 00:06:18 And since about 75% or so, and that's just a rough estimate, but 75% of plant based products on the market today are actually made on off the shelf meat processing equipment. We're looking to actually change that part of the industry by actually designing new production equipment that is appropriate for the production of plant based meat rather than using the off the shelf equipment that doesn't actually work that well for plant based meat production even though it's currently used that way today. And by doing so by creating new production methods and new equipment at Rebellyous, we can bring down the cost of plant based meat, increase the quality and increase the volume of our products to well beyond what it is currently today in terms of that 0.2% of the meat industry. So as a result, what we're competing on is not just a really, really good products, but higher quality products that are, we are capable of producing on better equipment and and high tech equipment that makes it possible for plant-based meat to be a one-to-one cost competitive product both on scale and cost with animal-based meat.
Jamie: 00:07:34 Sure. What are some of the specific examples of equipment types that are, as you put it off the shelf meat processing equipment?
Christie: 00:07:43 Well, really since the industrial revolution, we had been making meat. We had been doing meat processing with something that basically looks like your homemade Cuisinart. It's called a bull chopper and bull choppers are incredibly common. You can literally go on government websites and learn how to use them because they're published as the most common tool for processing meat. Bull choppers are just rotating blades and rotating bowls. Kind of like what you would have. Like I said, it's a Cuisinart, it's a massive Cuisinart and these tools essentially are made for taking large cuts of meat, like big pieces of beef for our, you know, cow flesh and then reducing it down to what we would know as a hamburger or mins to meat in the case of chicken taking parts of chicken, including the skin and the organs and obviously the meat and processing it down to something that you would put into a chicken nugget.
Christie: 00:08:39 Um, in the case of sausage making, I'm putting pork and beef or hot dogs that you know, are made in this way as well. Essentially blending it down into a slurry. So these processed meat products, it turns out that they're actually the majority of meat that is in the United States. And there's a lot of reasons for that. There's a lot of historical reasons for that. Primarily around, um, preserving meat in the early part of the 19th century. And, and essentially those kinds of products made it possible for us to kind of have more convenient meat products ready to heat and serve meat products. And like I said, you know, preserve meat in more easily, more easily, essentially. So the machinery around these products that was designed to do these products or to make these products, the most common one is a, is a bull chopper.
Christie: 00:09:29 Another one that's often used is called a tumbler. Essentially. It, um, you know, can essentially tenderizes meat. Um, it's often used in plant based meat processing for hydrating proteins and things like that. And then of course in the chicken industry, you know, 52% of the chicken in the United States is actually qualifies as what's called a ready to heat and serve chicken products. And as a result, you know, to replace these we have to bread batter and fry products such as plant based meat or plant-based chicken in order to compete with them. So being, making products, using bread, battering and frying equipment as well as you know, deep fat frying them and freezing them is all equipment that is typically used for plant B or pardon me for animal based meat and we need those same pieces of equipment for plant based meat. So those, that's kind of a general overview of the major pieces of equipment that are used in both industries.
Christie: 00:10:26 However, those are all the, also the pieces of equipment that they often don't work that well for making plant based meat. You know, they work okay. But there's a lot of problems with how plant based proteins interface with those pieces of equipment and other pieces of equipment. Those are just examples. And as a result, the high cost of plant-based to meat and the the waste that comes along with them and the low volumes that are produced in this industry is a result of the fact that manufacturing these products is done with equipment that doesn't match the product we're trying to make when it's made out of plant based protein versus animal based protein. So that's what we do at Rebellyous. We're, we're literally engineers designing a new production equipment that can more easily and less expensively and more consistently provide products of higher quality and higher volume.
Jamie: 00:11:20 With those two specific examples you gave the bull chopper and the tumbler, how might those, those pieces of machinery look different if they were tailored specifically to plant-based foods?
Christie: 00:11:29 So they wouldn't look different at all? They would not exist in the, in the factory of our future factory at Rebellyous. You know, I like to use the example of a lot of people say in the plant-based meat world, um, you know, if we just scaled this process, it would somehow be, you know, better if we just take what we're doing with plant-based meat today. And we made it even bigger or changed it slightly. It would suddenly do what the dairy industry is doing where, you know, dairy started out as a small part or plant-based area, started out as a small sector of the larger dairy industry and now it's, it's approaching 15, 20% of the dairy industry in the United States.
Christie: 00:12:12 So in the Rebellyous factory of the future, rather than having bull choppers or tumblers or for um, you know, continuous frying machines, we have pieces of equipment that looked nothing like those pieces of equipment and with, I can't share the exact designs of it, but there's a lot of philosophy I can share around what those pieces of equipment are. So, for example, bull choppers and, and um, and tumblers, they tend to work as a batch. Um, methodology. Meaning you throw some meat in there and you mix it up with some spices and you make sausage or chicken nuggets or hamburgers out of it. We don't really need that batch processing. So all of our tools actually have a continuous process. You, you put in on the amount of material you need, it processes it in a continuous way. And when it comes out the other end, it's been properly mixed and formed.
Christie: 00:13:08 And either, you know, emulsified or hydrated or something to that degree. But here's the analogy I'd like to give. You know, when we imagine a world, you know, back when we were using horses and carriages, a person of that time might've thought, well, if only we had stronger horses, maybe they had bigger hooves or bigger lungs. Maybe the solution to better transportation is to actually, you know, genetically engineer a better horse, right? But inventors who rethink these problems basically say, no, you know, we need a better horse. What we need is, you know, an internal combustion engine with wheels on an axle that drives the carriage from underneath. And that was a completely rethinking the situation because rather than necessarily saying, Oh we just need a scaled version of the horse, you know, what we actually needed was something completely different and you know to, to quote money Python, I guess what we needed is something completely different. And that's what we do at Rebellyous. The equipment that we are designing in our factory today and we'll be installing this year is completely, they doesn't look anything like the tools that are being used for plant based meat production today.
Jamie: 00:14:31 So with that, you use those terms continuous process compared to batch. Would you characterize most plant based food production at the moment as being treated as if it is a batch product? When in in theory it should be a continuous process.
Christie: 00:14:47 Yeah. So I mean only because that's what the equipment does. So like bull choppers and tumblers, you know, they are, they are batch process machinery, you know, decide how much, it's just like your Cuisinart at home. You decide how much you want to put in, you make the batch, you dump it out, you start over, you know there's, there's another type of plant base to meet that are made in extruders and those are obviously a continuous process method, but that's a very different way of making plant-based meat. It tends to be a more expensive way of making plant based meat and it also creates a very different product than chicken nuggets or burgers or things like that. And so we're working on the ones, you know, the, the, the products and that are, we're trying to replace that are made in these pieces of equipment.
Christie: 00:15:32 So exactly, these processes are, the machines that we're developing essentially are a continuous process and that is just unnecessary. That batch processing is simply unnecessary for making plant based meat because the original pieces of equipment were designed for processing meat. And when they were processing meat, they had to do it in a batch process because they were always kind of checking the dough to add a little more fat or a little less, you know, chicken skin or a little more water or a little more spice or because animals are different, you know, obviously they're each individuals and so when we chop them up and put them into bold shoppers, they don't always get the same product. And so as a result, these tools were made as batch processes so that the operator could make sure that, you know, the, the consistency of the product and the flavor of the product was controlled by the operator themselves.
Christie: 00:16:30 That's just not the case for plant based meat. It's a much more controlled process because we're not trying to, you know, we don't have as much variability in our plant based proteins as a meat processor would have in animal based proteins. You mentioned the piece of equipment, "extruders." Is this not a piece of equipment that Rebellyous is using? No, we don't use extruders. Um, so extruders are a type of meat are plant based meat processing. And actually meat processing tool, you can actually use them for animal meat as well. That's how things like the structure of cat food made from meat is also done, is put through an extruder and kind of reformed, but extruders have a, have a really interesting history within the food industry and that they are machines that kind of originally developed for like the plastics industry and then were started being used in the food industry to process grains and those grains were basically gave rise.
Christie: 00:17:30 Extruders gave rise to the formation of essentially the cereal industry. So the cereal industry of things like you know, kicks and you know cocoa puffs and things like that. All came from extruders and the ability to process grain and extruders. And then extruders started to be used for texturizing protein. I noticed you had some notes about texturizing protein in the low moisture method and the high moisture method. So you know later in the side say about the 1970s eighties and nineties they actually did start to do this high moisture methodology and that's where we start to see products like guardian, which is a high-moisture extruded product. The early versions of beyond me, it was also a high moisture extruded product. There are a few other companies like you know a few other companies that do high moisture extrusion of plant based proteins in order to make essentially what are, we're kind of more whole muscle meat products and that's great. You know if that works for their industry that's fantastic. It does tend to via a higher cost product, but that is not what we do at Rebellyous. We are going for the, the the industry, the half of the meat industry or more than half of the meat industry. That's things like chicken nuggets, chicken patties, chicken strips, fish sticks, hamburgers, things like that that are, you know, all processed meat products and those kinds of, those kinds of products are made differently than what you would get at an extruder.
Jamie: 00:19:02 Okay. So there's a post on the Effective Altruism Forum by Scott Weathers who now works at GFI about extruders and suggesting that that is a limiting factor for, for some companies. I'm wondering, and this is presumably, although you are not using extruders yourselves, presumably there's a similar question here of who actually makes this equipment, who makes the extruders and who is the sort of the bottleneck in terms of a lack of supply of that number of extruders or in your case who makes the tumblers? Who makes the bull troppers and who's going to make those alternative replacements? Is it Rebellyous doing everything from the, from the creating the machinery right through to actually sending the products to the customers?
Christie: 00:19:43 Yes. So for our machinery, our new machinery, we are designing our own machinery and having it made with external partners who I can't share obviously, but um, but the machinery that we're designing for our process and potentially for other companies as well is used in our process in order to make products for us to sell out to the world. So in a lot of ways we're somewhat of a vertically integrated company in that regard. And so we, we own and then we'll operate the equipment that we're designing and building and putting into our facilities. So and that equipment will very likely, in fact we know 100% it will be very useful to other plant based meat companies as well. And we would be happy to sell or license that to them for their use as well to bring down their costs, increase their efficiency and make it possible for them to reach even larger markets.
Christie: 00:20:39 But that's what we're doing at Rebellyous is we own and we'll build that equipment. Regarding your question about extruders, extruders are very complex machines and the companies that make them are very sophisticated. You know, very high quality companies. You know, companies like [inaudible] and Wanger and others such companies like that, you know, hire and are run by experts in the field of extrusion. But remember the extrusion is something that is used for a wide variety of food products, not just plant based protein. So as a result, you're always competing for an extruder with somebody who might be making cereal or something like that. Now that's not really a problem. If you want to buy an extruder, there's no doubt about it. You can get ahold of it. You know, there's always a lead time on big equipment, but that would be the case in, that's just the case in the food industry.
Christie: 00:21:31 It's the case in any manufacturing industry in fact. So, but they are very expensive. Um, extruders are, if that's the type of equipment that, uh, you know, plant based meat company needs, then you know, you, they, they better be forward with them and then operating them is, requires an expert or a well trained technician who knows how to operate these machines in a safe and an inefficient manner. So there's no doubt that there is competition for equipment within the entire food industry. Whether you're buying a bull chopper or a tumbler or a fryer or an extruder, you're always going to be essentially, you know, kind of competing with other companies to get those pieces of equipment. So I wouldn't say it's necessarily a bottleneck specifically for plant based meat, it's just that the entire food industry is growing dramatically because world population is growing dramatically and people want more of these convenience foods and this is where we get them from and how we make them.
Jamie: 00:22:36 So with these sort of alternative forms of machinery that you're planning to design and use, are you using that currently and the products that you are making or are these all plans and if if not then while using currently?
Christie: 00:22:48 Yeah, so currently we use off the shelf meat processing equipment for our products right now and our facility is a living laboratory for learning what's goes right and what goes wrong with those pieces of equipment and is what is enabled us to design new pieces of equipment. The only reason we don't have those pieces of equipment yet is because we've literally been in operation for a year and a half, so we're a very, very young company. We just graduated from the Y Combinator program, you know, barely a year and a half ago. Not even that. We've already set up production. We sell our plant-based chicken nuggets to Washington, California, and Oregon. We have a team of about 12 people, so you know, we'll get there.
Christie: 00:23:30 It's just that the research and development that was required for us to even start to design our equipment and we do have these early designs was necessary to actually get to those designs. So we had to actually do the of, of making plant-based meat getting it out to customers and making sure they liked it and they love it in order to learn what was right and what was wrong about manufacturing of plant based meat. And by using that information and continuing to refine on it every single day to iterate on it every day. That's the information we use to further develop our equipment. Now our equipment, once we prototype it, and you know, like I said, we're in the early, we're in the earlier stages of designing it right now. Essentially the way you design equipment as you, you start with bench testing and you do early designs and more bench testing than you do detailed design. Then you prototype, you test and prototype again and usually after a few prototypes you get it right. So right now we're kind of in the middle of that stage where you know we're in the early bench testing and and early, you know, mid stage design phase. So that's, that's why we do both production of plant based products and get it out to our customers as well as design in the background because we need that information in order to iterate and do it better.
Jamie: 00:24:51 Sure. I haven't eaten chicken myself for two decades so I'm not very well placed to judge this myself, but I think the chicken is known for having a sort of milder taste than beef and additionally the meat is white rather than red, so there's no need to try and use heme produced by yeast to mimic the taste of blood. All in all, it seems like the technical challenges in producing a plant based nugget that tastes nearly identical to conventional chicken nugget to my mind might be much lower than the technical challenges involved in producing a plant-based burger or a steak that tastes identical to the conventional products. Is that fair to say?
Christie: 00:25:25 Nope, it's exactly the opposite. I would say the vast majority of plant based products that have been made since, Oh since the 1950s have been burgers, burgers are much easier to to make then plant-based chicken. The reason is because the texture and the way the proteins come together is much more difficult than it is for a burger. So as you can imagine, the impossible burger and the beyond burger are all flavored in variety of different ways. But it's the texture and turning it into a Patty. That is like the hard part. Right. Although I would certainly claim that making heme is probably the hard part too for the impossible burger. But you know, flavoring all plant based meat products have to be flavored in some way, shape or form. Whether you know they're made do flavored chicken or beef or pork or whatever. It's it's, you know, absolutely.
Christie: 00:26:18 That's just a part of what we do. What's difficult about chicken and the reason that there's so many more plant based burgers out there versus plant-based chicken is because the texture and the cohesiveness of chicken, the water content of chicken, the fact that most chicken is bread battered and fried. And the fact that it's a, it's a pretty as a meat product, it's a very, very low cost product and plant based meat is not low cost. So it's difficult to compete against. All contribute to the fact that most, you know, meat products out there, plant-based products out there really started out with burgers and continues to really grow with burgers.
Jamie: 00:26:56 Sure. So just taking a step back then, what was the logic of focusing on chicken products? Uh, it's exciting from my point of view, from an impact perspective, uh, you can think of it as a, as a sort of trade off between immediate impact versus initial tractability, maybe; especially given what you were just saying about the difficulties with the chicken nuggets, but I was thinking also in terms of just what I've, I've seen some market research which is basically suggested that consumers were more confident that burgers could be similarly or, or better tasting than conventional meat products. So yeah, I can see in ways in which is harder just, yeah. What was the logic behind focusing on chicken products?
Christie: 00:27:33 The fact that people hadn't been super, super successful in making a product that was both the right price as well as really high quality was a really perfect opportunity for redesigning the manufacturing. So we can make plant-based meats that are, you know, plant-based burgers that, you know, can come pretty close to the price of burgers. You know, Boca has been doing that since, you know, the 1990s and you know, even back to the 1970s we were finding ways to make soy burgers. You know, those are things that we've done in the, in the, in the food industry in general. But being able to make a product that truly competed one-on-one with chicken products, we felt like there was a quality issue. There's certainly a manufacturing issue and there's certainly a cost issue. Those three things are practically a, an embossed invitation to change the manufacturing itself. Rather than look at just the product, we looked at the systems behind the product because all products, whether they be burgers or you know, boxes or pens or paper, airplanes are all defined by how we make them as well as what they need to do in the world.
Christie: 00:28:46 So it's, it's not too out of scope to actually say, okay, if this product is not performing the way we want it to, if it's not hitting the price points, if we can't make enough of it, let's look at how we're making it rather than necessarily try to refocus on changing the flavor or something like that. Because that's not the problem. The problem is it's just not available and it's not hitting quality targets and it's not as realistic as we want it to be. And so that's what we went back to the drawing board to fix. And you know, day by day we get better and better at it. It's an iterative process, but at the same time we, we were going forward with it pretty quickly here and that the equipment that we've got on the drawing board today will dramatically lower the cost and increase the volume of plant-based chicken products and be able to even add those same pieces of equipment will actually help other parts of our industry like Berger products. Well, but that's why we focused on chicken because we saw this really great opportunity to say, well, if it's, if it's not really taken off, we should try something else.
Jamie: 00:29:51 Yeah. Okay. So again, exciting from an impact point of view, but just from the point of view is as a business, it sounds like you're kind of setting yourself up for greater difficulty. There is not in terms of are you thinking, were you thinking in terms of just this is an opportunity that's just kind of ripe for disruption or it sounds almost like you're maybe heading towards thinking of the business model longer term as selling to other plant based companies. If you're developing this equipment to, to uh, really revolutionize how that sort of product is produced, is is the plan to use that equipment very much yourself or do you expect that the selling to other companies will become a bigger part of the business going forwards?
Christie: 00:30:30 So initially we'll use it for our own production to bring down the cost of our products and be able to offer our products at the same prices, animal-based chicken products. And then we were also happy to license it to other companies that are interested in using the equipment so that they can also succeed. And obviously our research and development is, you know, is we'll be rewarded for the fact that we can license the equipment to other companies. So the answer is both. And, and we, we believe that's really, really important because it's not enough to just develop equipment in isolation of a product. It's most food companies that own the major patents on extrusion and food processing and you know, making everything from fruit, Lola roll-ups to pop tarts. They own the actual methods and the equipment that they designed in order to make those products.
Christie: 00:31:26 And so this is our business model where we're both a production company and a production technology company is very similar to the general mills and the Keebler's of the world who developed brand new products but based on brand new equipment. And so as a result, we're essentially doing both at the, you know, at the same time because it's an iterative process. I know I only answered one of your questions there. So let me just jump back to, does this set us up for a more difficult process in the plant based, you know, meat world as a business? And the answer is we care a lot about impact. We are a mission focused company. However, most plant based meat is sold at a premium and maybe captures, I mean right now we know it barely even captures a half a percent of the meat industry, if not less than that.
Christie: 00:32:16 And barely even that. What we believe is that that is not going to change unless we bring down the price and increase the production. And as a result, we're not going for that half a percent. We're not going for the one to 2 million pounds per year of plant based meat production. We're going for hitting a billion pounds and then 5 billion pounds. Remember in the United States, we produce, the United States produces over 42 billion pounds of chicken every single year and that increases about two to 3% every year as well. So it's growing dramatically. We're after going after those billions of pounds where we may make a smaller margin on some of those products, but we're going after a much larger market and as a result of our, you know, streamlining and redefining the manufacturing process, even our margins look pretty darn good for the future.
Jamie: 00:33:13 Okay, cool. So picking up on that impact perspective then the opportunities there in terms of huge numbers of animals that you just mentioned, why don't I take the same logic further and focus on fish products? So Sentience Institute has estimated that in the U S anyone time there are about 238 to 931 million factory farmed fish, which compares to about 1.6 billion meat chickens brought internationally. There are likely many more farmed fish and farmed animals. So from an important point of view, fish might look more promising. And I've read a draft intervention report by charity entrepreneurship and they were optimistic about a possible animal free food tech startup ideas. That was the one they were most excited about.
Christie: 00:33:54 Yeah, and they should be excited about that. It's a very exciting prospect. So first of all, we are actually working on a fish product. We are working on a a fish stick that we have a pretty good prototype for. But when we categorize products and prioritize products that we're developing, we base them on our ability to categorize them within the scope of the manufacturing capability.
Christie: 00:34:19 So what I mean by that is first of all we focus entirely on ready to heat and serve bread, battered fried meat products. And there are basically four products that fall into that category. Chicken nuggets, chicken patties, chicken strips and fish sticks. And so fish sticks falls into that category pretty darn well because we bread, batter, and fry it and it's a ready to heat and serve product. And a lot of people eat fish sticks and a lot of kids eat fish sticks. So it actually does fall within the scope of what we are doing at Rebellyous. It also because of the type of meat that you get in a fish stick, we are able to, and that is that qualifies as the type of product that we could make with our new future production equipment and it qualifies as the type of product that is sold at high volumes with a lower price that meets our essentially our business model, which is to sell in large volumes to institutions both for you know, better profits but also our impact desires.
Christie: 00:35:20 So that's why we go after fish too. And I think it's interesting when we look at the meat industry as advocates, we see, Oh somebody should work on fish and somebody should work on chicken and somebody should work on pork and somebody should work on fish. That's just not how the food industry segments out these products. So we don't see those particular boundaries. When we look at the product landscape for opportunities, what we see is the divisions between how these products are made and once we identify a product and how it's made and whether or not it fits into our menu facturing vision, that's how we know it's going to be a product that we could make and which is good because a lot of low quality or I shouldn't say low quality, but you know, kind of cheap fish is put into fish sticks and as a result that's, that meets our impact statements as well. So those, those ready to heat and serve bread, battered fried products are what we focus on and, and you know, segmenting it out that way makes more sense for reaching, you know, high volume targets versus just looking at it from, you know, various different animals.
Jamie: 00:36:31 Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I can certainly imagine how the production of a fish stick would be entirely different to the production of some sort of prompt based imitation of a whole section of fish or something like that. So you mentioned just now the business strategy, everybody has foods and your sort of target audience and customers being institutions on your website. You mentioned that you target schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias or restaurants. Are there particular groups that you work in work with within that sort of broad category of institutional, uh, institutional partners?
Christie: 00:37:05 We obviously start with the most progressive and forward thinking organizations that are really ready to try something new. The hospitals with cardiac care units tend to really love our products because they're looking for an opportunity to remove cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat from the diets of the people that they're serving. You know, it's kind of like not wanting to serve hamburgers to people with colon cancer. You, you want them to not eat those things and so you don't want to serve them in hospitals. So our, our most cherished and early partners have been hospitals, like Swedish hospital here in Seattle, Washington, you know, certainly restaurants. Also we do serve yet restaurants and corporate cafeteria is such as um, you know, is in big corporations. Like here in the, in the Pacific Northwest there are a couple of corporate cafeterias where, you know, having plant-based chicken products is really, really popular. And so we really start with those organizations first.
Jamie: 00:38:04 Makes sense. So in terms of this focus on selling to other businesses and institutions rather than focusing on selling directly to consumers with their particular concerns or difficulties that you had with this strategy of focusing on selling straight to consumers that made that kind of business to business strategy more appealing?
Christie: 00:38:21 Well, first of all it's a very much of a proven business model because it's the business model of impossible foods. They have shown time and time again that selling their products to restaurants and food service was a really good way to start. And, and a lot of other, you know, you know, food industry companies agree that, um, you know, focusing on one channel, like food service is an important way of focusing your efforts and not getting too bogged down in the minutia of having to sell specifically to the consumer packaged goods market. But the other reason that it's really important is that, well, first of all, in terms of bread battered fried products, you know, people buy a lot of those in grocery stores, but they buy a whole lot of them at fast food restaurants at, um, you know, local, you know, just mom and pop restaurants and at cafeterias, you know, imagine all the chicken nuggets that can get consumed at the dorms.
Christie: 00:39:16 Um, at UC Berkeley or Stanford or, you know, Yale or Harvard. There's a lot of them. And so we saw that as the best opportunity because you know, people have really busy lives and they don't necessarily want to have to make a decision every single day about, Oh, am I going to go for the plant base or the meat braced and you know, and so having these products available to them wherever they're making a snap decision about their food is really, really important. And also we want to offer them those better choices. People want to choose better options. So then we just don't have enough of these products out there. And so we decided to focus on food service because you know, we're already focusing on a lot of big issues in the plant based foods world. We wanted to make sure that our food service, pardon me, our distribution and our sales was direct and as um, as confined and focused to a certain channel as possible.
Christie: 00:40:13 Now that being said, in the future, potentially we can partner with another organization or another company to go to the consumer packaged goods market, especially with once we've got our products really well established and our manufacturing manufacturing solutions well established. But at the end of the day, you know, to feed a couple of hundred thousand students a year at the university, you really just need to, you know, help the food service director, you know, get what he or she needs for plant based foods in their cafeteria and you've suddenly been able to reach a lot more people than if you have to convince every consumer at whole foods to try your product. That's a, that's a different lift. It's a different effort and it's not an effort that we spend our time and energy on at the moment.
Jamie: 00:41:00 Sure. So there's an interview on a podcast with Simeon Van der Molen of Moving Mountains on the plant based business podcast where he said that it was important for him that restaurant menus list the moving mountains brand. That was a kind of deal break for him and he wouldn't agree to have the product sold in the chain if the brand wasn't included. There's a wide spectrum of possible strategies here. I think Just falls at the opposite end of the spectrum with their plant-based Mayo, which they've managed to sell as a direct replacement for mayonnaise in a number of institutional contexts. Where does Rebellyous fall on this spectrum? Are you keen to have the branding splashed everywhere or is it an important aspect of your strategy?
Christie: 00:41:39 So we actually do both. We have customers like Swedish hospital who love to have our brand both on the menu and even, you know, big advertisements in their cafeteria. They enjoy the Rebellyous brand. And you know, it gives people something to take a little bit of joy in both the both just kind of the fun of the word "rebellious" as well as the fact that they're making a choice that is better for their health, better for the animals and better for the environment. But at the same time we do provide behind the scenes products for companies that do not put our name on them, both for restaurants and for even fast food restaurants and um, even cafeterias that don't necessarily, you know, have the opportunity to put our name anywhere just because it's like they just don't even have that much control over their menu.
Christie: 00:42:31 Like a school lunch program where they're just serving chicken nuggets. There's not like an opportunity for a menu anyway. So we don't hold a, you know, any of our customers to something that doesn't fit well with what they're trying to do because we're after the production and sales opportunity and while our brand is near and dear to our hearts and it's a really great opportunity to share what we're doing and it means a lot to some of our customers. We value those customers that want to use the brand, but at the same time we value the fact that some customers are just not in a position to use the brand.
Jamie: 00:43:07 I'd like to check in as well on some thoughts about your personal career background. We've talked a lot about Rebellyous Foods' focus on scaling up and the production methods. And your own background is in mechanical engineering and the aerospace industry. I'm wondering how transferable that particular experience and knowledge was to your work in plant based foods?
Christie: 00:43:28 Yeah, that's a great question because my work in aerospace was primarily around designing new tools for manufacturing products, specifically airplane wings. And so my, the patents that I garnered, well I was at Boeing were all around new tools and new production methods in order to make, you know, essentially to assemble a airplane wings, specifically the triple seven triple seven airplane wings. So as a result, um, my experience in tool design is what I brought to, you know, founding and being the CEO of Rebellyous Foods. I believe that manufacturing is fundamentally the, the, the turn key point at which products can be efficiently made or not so efficiently made. And when I really started to dive into the plant based meat world and really realized what a dearth of product was out there, I looked to the manufacturing side because both, that was my background and also I, I genuinely saw a problem there. And so my mechanical engineering background is directly tied to why I started this particular company that is set up in this particular way, solving these particular problems.
Jamie: 00:44:46 Do you expect that everybody's food, we'll need to hire many more people with engineering experience in the future or is your own experience mostly sufficient on that?
Christie: 00:44:53 Oh absolutely not. No. Our company is already, we have, you know, myself as an engineer. We have another engineer on our team who basically is, is just one of the most brilliant engineers I've ever worked with. She's absolutely amazing. We also have a team of food scientists who also have food production engineering background as well. We actually employ three food scientists overall and an engineer who have all contributed to the, to the overall, you know, design and, and process development in one way or another as well as our production team. You know, all members of our team contribute to the overall solutions that we are developing in terms of both equipment and methodology for the future production of our Rebellyous production facility. And so, you know, and we will be hiring new engineers. We even have an engineering position on our website right now, specifically for an R and D prototyping engineer for the new production equipment that we're going to be prototyping this year. So absolutely a lot of engineers are needed in general for a food production company. And you know, being that we're still a small group of people, we don't have that many right now. But that's only because we're very, very young.
Jamie: 00:46:05 So is that typical for plant based food companies or is it because you have this specific focus on scaling up and production methods that there is this requirement for a large number of engineers?
Christie: 00:46:15 Well, there's a couple of different types of business model that are used for starting a plant base to meet companies. So some of our more, our longer older companies like field roast or guardian or Tofurky are plant based meat companies that do their own production. And as a result undoubtedly have engineers on staff or food production engineers on staff or food scientists. All of those folks work on the engineering required. Now that's just to run a food production facility. Any kind of food production facility requires an engineering staff of some sort. That being said. And so that's why we do too. Now the other type of plant based meat company that is, is also just as common are plant based meat companies that have developed a product but then have somebody else make it for them and they don't actually run the manufacturing and then they brand it, they develop the product and brand it, but they don't actually make it. Um, so they have a co manufacturer make it for them. It doesn't mean they're not involved in the process. They're very much involved in the process, but they don't necessarily, I can't imagine they necessarily have a large engineering team like we have or will have, um, going forward quite simply because they're, you know, they're just not doing that type of work.
Jamie: 00:47:38 With that area of, of hiring engineers, you've obviously only hired one so far. You said you've got another job advert up. Is that something that is, you know, there's a lot of supply of that kind of, of people with that sort of skillset that able and willing to work in the food space and specifically the plant based food space or is this something that you, you anticipate having to draw people with quite indirect experience in?
Christie: 00:48:05 Well it's not unusual to draw in people with indirect experience, you know, Anne Thiel is our current facilities and equipment engineer. She comes to us with a chemical engineering background and was working in um, the alternative, um, materials industries, so plastic replacements and, and things like that. So those translated really, really well to essentially processing materials like plant based meat, also running a big facility. We currently, our facility is currently 21,000 square feet in West Seattle. And so as a result, you know, her experience very much translated, even though she hadn't worked in the food industry before. And, and she's just a top notch engineer that does just amazing work to support our company and to take us to the next level, day in and day out. So those types of folks, you know, like Anne and the future engineers that will be, we'll be hiring, can come from a wide variety of engineering backgrounds.
Christie: 00:49:04 What we look for when we hiring when we're hiring engineers is people who really think outside the box are ready to solve problems. Who you know, care about the mission, whether that be the environmental mission, the human health mission, the animal welfare mission. You know, that they really, that they want to, they want to be there with us and they want to take the roller coaster ride that is being in a startup that's, you know, a 24 seven commitment of your time and energy and thoughts. So what we're looking for is, you know, people who can really try and, and really be able to stop thinking of the world as confined by the rules that were given to us when we were born and start thinking outside the box as much as we have, we're doing with our equipment. Right? You know, like we described earlier, we're not just trying to, you know, breed or, you know, genetically engineer a bigger horse. We're actually building a car instead. And that's really important because being able to just not consider the status quo, the only option for making things bigger and better and actually thinking about a whole different solution that may look completely different is what we look for in our team members.
Jamie: 00:50:17 Yeah, I can definitely see the, the importance of inventiveness in this area where there is just not much precedent. Um, I want to pick up on the thing you mentioned there about mission alignment as well. I'm wondering how that trades off against other kinds of skills that you might look for. How important is it that your candidates in engineering roles or other roles have that mission alignment? Is this essentially from the perspective of a sort of commitment device to the company or do you see as important in a wider sense?
Christie: 00:50:45 Well, it's important for a startup is what it is. So it's not that necessarily we all share the same, um, part of the mission. You know, some people on our team are committed to the mission of running a really efficient company. Some people on our team are committed to ending the exploitation of animals and some people are committed to making a world that doesn't burn up from climate change. And so it can be a variety of different parts of our mission that people care about. But we have found that folks that apply with us and talk with us about the job, the mission is what kind of helps you get past the tough days. And there's a lot of tough days in a startup. It's hard, it's really hard, it's a commitment. And if you don't feel like you're really driven by that mission, whatever the mission means to you and to that particular individual, it's really hard to commit to a startup in general.
Christie: 00:51:46 So this wouldn't just be true for our efforts, although I'm sure you know the mission around climate change and human health and animal welfare and you know, building a better and more efficient and sustainable world are all, you know, definitely are part of every person that works for Rebellyous right now. But working in a startup is something that if you don't have a passion for what you're doing and are committed to the longterm strategy, it's really, really hard to commit to all the time and energy that it takes. And like I said, it's a 24 seven job for most of our team members. And as a result, you know, we have found that it, it really doesn't work unless you're committed to at least some part of the mission.
Jamie: 00:52:28 So both yourself and your vice president of business development, Kristie Middleton, worked in nonprofits that are part of the effective animal advocacy community before you worked for Rebellyous Foods. So you worked for the Good Food Institute, as I mentioned earlier. And Kristie Middleton was managing director of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States. Was this intentional or just chance?
Christie: 00:52:49 Well, mostly just chance cause most of my career was actually in industry and in the aerospace industry. So, you know, most recently at Boeing. And then prior to that I worked in other engineering and consulting roles for, you know, various aerospace efforts. But Christie's long career in the nonprofit animal advocacy area was one of the most innovative, you know, career decisions. I think that, you know, I've see, I've seen somebody take quite simply because you know, there wasn't a way to do the type of meat replacement and institutions that necessary. And so she built it and that was what was really amazing about her work at the humane society of the United States was that rather than saying, you know, just advocating to institutions that they should reduce their meat consumption. She went out and you know, she and others on our team went out and developed an amazing program that actually taught chefs in institutions and still does taught chefs and institutions how to make better plant based meals and make plant based meals in volume and make it work with their menus.
Christie: 00:53:57 And that has been, quite frankly, you know, from my perspective is one of the most effective things that we can do to take farm animals out of the equation is to directly teach people how to do it in the institutional setting. For me as a founder, it, you know, it definitely went from a very structured role at Boeing to a very unstructured role as a founder and CEO of a company. I know when you get into a startup, basically you have to do everything from mopping the floors to making nuggets to um, you know, selling to customers. And so, you know, from my perspective it was definitely a shift, not one that I wasn't welcoming, it was just, it was just a shift. I, I can't speak directly for, for Kristie Middleton, but you know, what I know of her and working with her in the last year is that, you know, she was already doing everything that their team could possibly do to help institutions transition to more plant based foods. And so, um, she seemed to fit in very, very well into a startup because, you know, just doing what needs to get done, um, is the way way that you always have to do things in a nonprofit. And that's very similar to what you got to do in a startup.
Jamie: 00:55:08 Okay. So we've talked about your experience at Boeing and in engineering quite a lot. Was your experience at GFI particularly useful for helping you on the road to founding Rebellyous Foods?
Christie: 00:55:18 Yeah, I wasn't at GFI very long. It was just in the early, you know, founding year of GFI. Um, and certainly was helpful in terms of getting to meet people in the community, certainly learning about the plant based foods world and um, and really just starting to kind of understand the landscape of the industry in general. I had been looking for to start a plant based meat company for, for actually a couple of years before, um, GFI started and then had the opportunity to work at GFI and decided to dive in fully. You know, um, you know, about a year or so after I started at GFI. So it was, it was a really good experience, but I guess the overall story and the creation story of Rebellyous actually started before that. It actually started because of the work at the humane society of the United States. Kristie Middleton was involved in this story as well back in 2015 when I met Kristie Middleton.
Christie: 00:56:13 And Josh Balk at the, at the humane society of the United States. And they said, somebody needs to start a plant based chicken nugget company because we really need plant-based chicken nuggets and it's gotta the right cost and somebody has got to figure out how to do that. So, you know, back in 2015 I didn't know how to do that. And slowly but surely continued to work on the idea. And really after, you know, a lot of research and a lot of years and learning all the, what I learned at GFI and getting to learn, meet new people in the community, the larger story of Rebellyous, um, culminated in, in me starting, um, Seattle Food Tech, which we now call Rebellyous Foods.
Jamie: 00:56:54 So you mentioned obviously Humane Society, United States few times, which is a group that you also stayed involved with in a voluntary capacity yourself, I believe. Um, you've got this, you also cofounded this political group called Humane Voters of Washington. Can you summarize what that group does?
Christie: 00:57:09 Yeah. So the humane voters of Washington is a Washington state political action committee that supports the, um, supports the candidates who care about animal issues as well as initiatives in Washington state that, um, support, you know, some betterment of welfare for animal treatment or protection of animals in general. So, you know, we hold fundraisers, we gather funds in order to divert them to candidates, um, who are, who care about our issues. We do door knocking. We, um, support fundraisers for candidates. We hold fundraisers for candidates and we work on a variety of political issues that in some way, shape or form betters the political landscape for animals so that legislators will make more decisions, uh, route our laws that will support the either humane treatment of animals or the protection of animals.
Jamie: 00:58:08 What do you think are the high priority political issues for animal advocates in current U S politics, for instance, how would you weigh up the importance of direct animal welfare or rights issues against issues that affect animal free food technology? Like the battles over labelling, that have been raging at the state level that GFI has been heavily involved with.
Christie: 00:58:23 Yeah. The humane voters of Washington. Um, it's, is a Washington state specific political action committee. So as a result, we work mostly on issues that affect the state of Washington. We obviously, you know, care about the larger issues, but local political action committees are, are, you know, designated to work within the States that they are work on. So we work on mostly wildlife issues. We work on a few farm animal protection issues. We work on, you know, um, protection of animals in, you know, um, like pets and things like that under unsafe conditions like abuse issues and things like that. You know, the wonderful thing about politics is that you, you rarely, if ever have to choose between something like, you know, maybe how much time you spend on labeling laws versus how much time you spend on animal welfare laws because they're rarely in competition.
Christie: 00:59:14 Um, at least from, from our perspective and Washington state, it might be a little bit unique. I'm sure if there was a, you know, a labeling law out here in Washington, it would, it might be a different situation. But in general, you know, we don't necessarily have to pick and choose over, you know, supporting one versus the other in any way, shape or form. But you know, the issue around, um, labeling of plant based meat products around products in general is something that is being, I think effectively argued and debated, um, in a variety of States and with the help of groups like, you know, the plant based foods association and GFI. And I think that's a good use of their time because obviously we can't let the industry artificially create a barrier around communication when it comes to plant based foods. At the same time, you know, everybody's got a focus on what they're best at doing and at Rebellyous we're best at production and getting our products out there. And being that we're only a year and a half old, we, we haven't weighted our toes too much into the labeling laws quite simply because we have such effective organizations that are working on it and we're just so new.
Jamie: 01:00:22 Yeah. So thinking just a little bit more about this interaction between these nonprofit groups focusing on sort of wider animal advocacy issues and the animal free food technology space. Do you have any thoughts about what animal advocacy organizations like the humane society of the U S or the humane league could be doing to maximize the chances of success of animal free food technology? Or do you just not see there being that much direct interaction in that sense?
Christie: 01:00:49 I think they're already doing it actually. I feel very, very strongly that the work of the humane society of the United States like um, farm animal protection group with their, um, food forward program, which trains institutional chefs and food service workers, how to make more plant based foods is in my opinion, actually the most effective program out there for getting more animals out of our food system. Now at the same time, it also gives them the opportunity to introduce things like the impossible burger or the beyond burger or the Rebellyous nugget or a variety of other plant-based, um, easy ready to heat and serve products that they would want to use in their cafeteria. And they do do that. They're, they're fantastic about that. So those are, I feel like that direct contact where they're going in, they partnering with organizations there, they're making it easy to access and learn the information necessary to transition to a more plant based menu.
Christie: 01:01:46 So that, that to me is just one of the most amazing programs out there for re reducing the number of animals in our food system. It's direct, it's immediate. It's not waiting on any kind of technology development except for if the availability of plant based foods, which we're trying to address, which is why our company has roots in the humane society of the United States. However, the other groups that are also working on vegan advocacy, reducing your meat consumption, reducetarianism, The Humane League, places like you know, groups like that are also doing a of good, I mean we need advocates in all of these organizations to do the work that they're doing because it all adds up when we go to a brand new cafeteria or university. Um, the people who are asking, who have, you know, are the vegans and vegetarians and even just the people who care about, you know, where their meat comes from, are asking food service directors.
Christie: 01:02:44 You know, we want more humane options. We want vegetarian, we want vegan options. Even just one person who does that can essentially sway the decision of a food service director to make it possible for everybody to have it. And so as a result of the work of the humane league advocacy through the humane society, United States, Mercy For Animals, their undercover investigations, all of those, I really need those folks to continue doing what they're doing. And I need us as a community to continue supporting those efforts because I don't see them as one more effective than the other because I know the power that you know, impact. I know the power that helping people see where our farm, our meat comes from through groups like Mercy For Animals or Vegan Outreach through literally vegan outreach. Those impacts, we see them out in the field when we're talking to customers and as a result they can are very oftentimes be the switch that flips as a result and that makes the big sale for us. We just need to be ready to catch the ball and provide them the product. So, you know, I don't really see it as one more effective than the other. I see our entire community as puzzle pieces that all need to fit together and they all support the alternative meat industry and the replacement of animals in our food system because without even one of them, there is a missing piece of the puzzle.
Jamie: 01:04:09 Yeah, I definitely buy the idea of there being a sort of social movement ecology where different pieces fit together and play different parts; complementary in that sense. Just to push back slightly. I do think that we have trade offs in the sense of where we direct funding or where people decide to spend their careers and that sort of thing. So there are times when we face trade offs between them and therefore if you have views about effectiveness then it, I think it's important to consider them. There's tons of topics we could go into and various aspects between the, those farmed animal advocacy groups and the animal free food technology space generally. But one that I wanted to touch on that we haven't talked about yet was the space of investment. Where did the capital for Rebellyous Foods come from?
Christie: 01:04:52 So we, and we got investment from a variety of different sources. Um, we do have some investors who are very mission focused. Um, but we also went through the Y Combinator program. Are you familiar with Y Combinator? It's an incubator in Silicon Valley. It's the founder of, you know, of like Airbnb. And some of the largest and most profitable, um, uh, you know, Silicon Valley companies. Um, we're a graduate of Y Combinator and as a result of getting out of Y Combinator, we raised a lot of money from Silicon Valley investors in support of our efforts to um, build Rebellyous Foods. So both mission-related investors as well as, um, Silicon Valley, you know, Y Combinator investors.
Jamie: 01:05:33 Yeah. I mean one point is maybe that Y Combinator is pretty hard and so a lot of other plant based food companies might not be able to get through that. So maybe you're a slight exception in that sense, but how important do you see the role of impact investors? I think Blue Horizon, were one of the, as you put it, mission-driven investors that invested in readiness for your talent pool. And do you see their role for the animal free food technology space?
Christie: 01:05:56 I think it's really important. I think that um, the focus on investors who wanted to put some of their funds towards investment in plant based foods has made a huge difference. It made a huge difference for us. It got us started and we would not have been able to get started otherwise and make all the progress that we would have been able to make. And, and you know, essentially fundraising before we got into Y Combinator was part of the reason that, you know, we could show some progress once we, you know, we were applying to Y Combinator. So again, that we'll need a really big difference from impact mission related investors. Also, I think that mission, um, and impact investors have a longer vision that they're looking to, you know, that they can see the impact of what you're doing. You know, not everybody looks at what we're doing and says, well, why are you working on machinery instead of just making nuggets and just getting them out there? Well, you know, impact investors tend to be able to see, okay, well, Oh, okay. It's not just about the bottom line and you know, three years. It's about essentially replacing the infrastructure of large scale chicken processing, which is what we want to do. And so, you know, getting funding for that can sometimes be really difficult. And the impact investors have made a really big difference in that regard.
Jamie: 01:07:09 Plenty of other things I'd love to ask you about that. It's been great to have you on the podcast. Thank you very much for giving up your time to chance me.
Christie: 01:07:16 Thank you so much for having me. It was a real honor.
Jamie: 01:07:20 You're welcome. Is there anywhere that you would encourage particular people to look up Rebellyous Foods and how they can get involved?
Christie: 01:07:25 Yes. Um, we would love for you to visit our website at rebellyous.com and it's R E B E L L Y O U s.com. Find out all about our products. We'll actually be releasing a new plant-based chicken nugget in late January. So look out for that. We're really excited about it. There's a lot of different types of nuggets around out there. Um, so we're developing a lot of different types of plant-based nuggets. So, um, look for some of our new releases in the next year or so.
Jamie: 01:07:53 Great, thanks again. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You can subscribe to the Sentience Institute podcast in iTunes, Stitcher, or other podcast apps.