Cultured Meat and Future Food is a short-form podcast series discussing the role of plant based food, cultivated meat and food technology. The show is focused on asking industry leaders questions for an audience with a non-scientific background. Cultured Meat and Future Food is targeted towards entrepreneurs interested in the food technology space.

Christie Lagally of Rebellyous Foods with Zack Olson of Black & Veatch

Christie Lagally is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a food production technology company working to make plant-based meat price-competitive with traditional chicken products. Ms. Lagally is a mechanical engineer and holder of multiple patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career in the aerospace industry working on commercial airplanes and spacecraft in testing, design, and manufacturing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Previously, Ms. Lagally served as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat (i.e. cultured meat). Ms. Lagally holds Bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Psychology and Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

She is also an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, a co-founder of the Humane Voters of Washington (a political action committee) and serves as a Washington State Council Member for the Humane Society of the United States.

Zack Olson is part of the Black & Veatch Growth Accelerator which drives smart, rapid, profitable growth; discovers opportunities; and challenges convention. He is a co-managing director of the Growth Accelerator’s NextGen Agriculture business, and currently leads that engineering team. Throughout his career he has been involved in projects that required developing innovative and cost-effective solutions, in close collaboration with the end client, particularly pertaining to energy performance improvements.

This episode is sponsored by the Black & Veatch NextGen Ag Team. Learn more about Black and Veatch at

Listen to this podcast on your favorite streaming service.

Alex (00:04):

Thanks for joining us on the Cultured Meat and Future Food Show. This episode is sponsored by the Black & Veatch NextGen Ag team. Learn more about Black & Veatch at We’re excited to have two fantastic guests on today’s episode, Christine Lagally of Rebellyous Foods and Zack Olson of Black and Veatch. Christie Legally is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a food production technology company, working to make plant-based meat price competitive with traditional chicken products. Mr. Legally is a mechanical engineer and holder of multiple patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career in the aerospace industry, working on commercial airplanes and spacecraft and testing design and manufacturing at Boeing commercial airplanes. Previously, Ms. Legally served as senior scientist for the good food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat (also known as Cultured or Cultivated Meat).

Alex (01:06):

Ms. Legally holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology and mechanical engineering and a master’s of science and mechanical engineering. She is also an active member of the national women’s political caucus of Washington, a co-founder of the humane voters of Washington, a political action committee, and serves as a Washington state council member for the humane society of the United States. Also joining us on today’s episode is Zach Olson. Zach is part of the Black and Veatch growth accelerator, which drives smart, rapid and profitable growth, discovers opportunities and challenges convention. He’s a co-managing director of the growth accelerators next gen agriculture business, and currently leads that engineering team throughout his career. He has been involved in projects that require developing initiatives and cost effective solutions in close collaboration with the end client, particularly pertaining to energy performance improvements. Let’s jump right in! Thanks for joining us on the future food show. We’re excited to have two guests on today’s episode, Christie and Zack. I’d like to welcome you to the future food show.

Christie (02:16):

Thank you so much for having me Alex.

Alex (02:18):

It’s a, it’s definitely a pleasure to be here with you to get started. Please tell me a little bit about your companies. What does your company do and how does it fit in the world of future food tech?

Christie (02:29):

Yeah, so my company is Rebellyous Foods. We actually operate under the corporate name, Seattle food tech and that differentiation of names or having two names really reflects the type of work that we do at Rebellyous Foods in Seattle, food tech. We are a manufacturing production company that makes plant-based chicken products for both the food service and the CPG market. We also operate a facility that includes a research and development lab where we’re to build a new production system, to bring down the cost of making plant-based chicken and using what we know as an actual food manufacturer to essentially change the future of plant-based meat production through innovative new manufacturing technology.

Zack (03:15):

Yeah, and so my company is Black and Veatch and we are a global engineering and construction company that has market focuses in many different areas. But my team specifically focuses on engineering and construction support for emerging food technologies, such as plant-based meat and really helping to support the commercialization journey for future food type companies as they scale their products to larger and larger market.

Alex (03:45):

I’m definitely excited to dig in a little bit deeper later on this episode to see when these are Rebellyous Foods, nuggets will be in retail stores or on the market if they’re not already, but first let’s step back a little bit and maybe start with Christie. What’s your background. And when did you really start thinking about starting Seattle food tech or Rebellyous Foods?

Christie (04:08):

Yeah, thanks for the question. My background is actually in mechanical engineering. I spent most of my career in the aerospace industry and working on both spacecraft and aircraft, and most recently at Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the time I cared a lot about and still do care a lot about social justice issues surrounding meat production, whether that be human health, animal welfare, environmental justice issues around large scale meat production. And I spent my free time basically trying to help in advocacy roles for those issues. While at the same time working as a mechanical engineer at Boeing or at my previous positions, I really, really felt like I needed to find a better way to incorporate my engineering skills into what I saw was a massive problem in the meat industry that we really didn’t have a way to make alternatives in some kind of really high volume fashion.

Christie (05:03):

And so for reference in the United States alone, the U.S. Meat industry produces almost 107 billion pounds of animal based meat. And by contrast all plant-based meat companies in the United States produce less than one half of 1% of that volume. So we don’t even reach 1%. We barely even reach a half a percent of the volume of plant-based meat versus animal-based meat. Fundamentally given my goals and mission, you know, address the mission around large-scale meat replacement. I saw this as a manufacturing problem and given that my background was in manufacturing, engineering and mechanical engineering, I saw an opportunity to address this issue through innovative manufacturing methodologies, to essentially industrialize and scale production of plant-based meat through better equipment, better processing, better facility operations. And in 2017, I decided to launch the company while I was still working at my previous position. And then in 2018 it was funded. And we even got into Y Combinator that year, which is an accelerator program out of Silicon Valley that has supported a lot of interesting startups, including Airbnb and many others. And so that acceleration was what really launched us as Seattle Food Tech to start not only making really good plant-based chicken products, but using what we know to start developing innovative new production equipment and methodologies around making plant-based meat. And we’ve been at it ever since.

Alex (06:30):

Great. So really engineering and kind of building for scale has been something that was really there from day one. Would you say that?

Christie (06:39):

Absolutely. And this is where I think we are very different than other plant-based meat companies. It is hard enough to develop a really good product and get it out to the market, whether that even be the food service market or the CPG market, or in our case, as a result of the pandemic, we now do both, but we really felt like it wasn’t enough to just do that for breaking into the chicken market. If our true competitors are the products of bread, battered fried chicken products, like chicken nuggets, patties, and tenders, making them in minuscule volumes just doesn’t even move the needle in terms of impact. And as a result, the company that I started, Seattle Food Tech and still run today is really intended to really move the needle by taking what we know about manufacturing these products and taking it to a whole new level so that we can bring down the cost, increase the volume and allow for much higher quality products through innovative manufacturing, methodologies, and equipment.

Alex (07:35):

Great. That’s super exciting. And I think it definitely makes a lot of sense. I want to circle back to that, but first, Zack, I want to learn more about your background. We started chatting about future food and cultured meat back even before CMS 2018. Tell us about your background and how the NextGen Ag team at Black and Veatch operates.

Zack (07:54):

Yeah, sure. I’m actually an electrical engineer by training and worked at Black and Veatch. What I would call kind of one of our legacy or core businesses around actually it was in the water wastewater treatment industry for the first bulk of my career and Black and Veatch is as a company, as a hundred year old company is really focused today on how do we drive innovation in the engineering and construction space through some of the innovation programs that, that the company is running.

Zack (08:24):

We were able to take a small team and for lack of a better term, pilot, this idea of how do we take the skill sets that we have and focus them on improving sustainability in industries that reach beyond what we’ve traditionally done. So that’s kind of how our team got started. And it was a slow evolution. Our initial focus was on controlled environment, agriculture and vertical farming. This is the first technology that we saw in the future of food that could be positively impacted by our thinking around how do you engineer and construct systems at scale that ultimately take like large capital programs and thinking about the kind of ecosystem of scale requires the built environment and the built environment needs to be appropriately designed for the ultimate outcome that you’re looking for. And those are core skillsets of our company. And so from our standpoint, it was looking at how do we improve sustainability in an arena or a facet of the ecosystem that, again, we hadn’t traditionally looked at.

Zack (09:30):

And so that’s really what was the Genesis of the future of food. And so since then, we’ve really looked to build our team with the right skill sets around traditional food and beverage manufacturing understanding so that we understand things like sanitary design principles and the nuts and bolts of what is required to build a food manufacturing facility that meets all of the requisite standards, but also helps companies operating at an early scale and early in their kind of commercialization journey scale up to the point where they can compete and can impact the market from a volume perspective.

Alex (10:07):

One thing that, I really found interesting was when food tech companies can start working with Black and Veatch. So maybe Zack tell us at what stage is preferred for food tech startup to start talking to Black and Veatch, or maybe working with you. And then Christie, it’d be great to learn when you were thinking about engineering and construction on a larger scale, or when you connected with folks like from Black and Veatch.

Zack (10:34):

Yes. So from my perspective, we’ve designed our team intentionally to be able to engage with companies, maybe let’s say even earlier in their kind of commercialization journey than what I consider some of our competitors. We really look to get involved as early as possible with companies as they’re even planning their strategy. Right. Are you going to co manufacturer, are you going to have your own assets and manufacturing facilities? Is there a hybrid, right? If you produce a plant based ingredient and a finished product, maybe there’s some portion of that gets co-manufactured in some portion of that, that you control process. And so if we really try to and want to engage as early in that process as possible, because what I think we found by and large is there are many companies in this space that don’t have a background in capital program developments and building manufacturing facilities. So in some regards there’s an educational curve that I feel like we can help walk alongside as a partner to our clients in understanding what that process even looks like and how to accomplish their ultimate goal.

Christie (11:42):

Yeah. And just adding in there, we met Zack and his team a little more than a year ago. They believe it was at the Good Food Conference when it was still in in-person and was really impressed by the fact that they were so willing to work with us, especially given our small stage. And at the time we were just about to sign with our new facility in West Seattle. So we were excited to meet with them. And also it’s not easy to find an engineering company that both knows what they’re doing and is willing to work with a small company like ours. And so one of the benefits of working with Zach and his team at Black and Veatch was that they understood the value of what we were trying to do and that in and of itself definitely made it possible for us to go forward.

Christie (12:26):

Really with some really big moves, such as getting our own facility pretty early on in our process. I believe it was Zack and his team who came and helped vet our facility to make sure it was the place that we wanted given that we had to sign a five-year lease for it. And then later on helped us and is still helping us put in our new bread, better fry, automated production line, including all the control systems and things like that. So engaging with a company that really understands our problems, but also understands that we’re still tiny and we still have limited budget. And we to operate off of venture capital funds is definitely a unique quality and an absolute necessity for a company like ours, who as Zack said, doesn’t always have all the expertise. We employ a lot of engineers and we employ an operations team as well as a research team.

Christie (13:13):

But a lot of that is not focused around necessarily the expertise that a company like Zack’s brings to the table, which is as he mentioned, larger system and even building level expertise, as well as the expertise that we need for what we’re working with them on right now, which is automated line installation and selection and commissionings. There’s a lot that goes into that. And if you are a company that’s using a contract manufacturer, maybe some of that is behind the scenes, but for a company like ours, where we really needed to understand every aspect of the production process so that we can innovate around it and also incorporate our innovations into a pilot line, working with a patient guide, like Zack and his team was important for us to do that. It was absolutely mission critical. In fact, that ability to find somebody to work with us on that, like I said, is mission critical because otherwise we would not be able to take our vision for better, faster, higher volume production of plant-based meat to a whole new level.

Alex (14:12):

That’s exciting. And it seems like a very cool facility to tour! So I’m going to ask you about the distribution model in just a second, but before I do, I want to quickly go back to the brand. So Seattle food tech versus Rebellyous is the company now completely operating under Rebellyous or is that one product line?

Christie (14:36):

So we operate our corporate business under the name, Seattle food tech, and then we do business as Rebellyous foods. So it’s both when we sign contracts and things like that, it’s usually under Seattle Food Tech, but the idea there is that we are essentially running three at once. We run a product development division that develops new products and gets them out the door. And that’s definitely under the name Rebellyous Foods. We run an operations facility, our food production facility that Zack and his team have helped us build. And obviously we actually go by the name, Rebellyous Foods, that’s what our wall and things like that. But then our research and development division, which is all the same company, we file patents under the name, Seattle Food Tech. So it is both at the same time, but given the diversity of the types of things that we’re doing in order to really make an impact on this industry, essentially product development, production, and research and development, it’s a complex set of things to all have in one company. So I think both names represent the different parts of what we’re doing.

Alex (15:37):

Great. And that totally makes sense. And so what is the distribution model for Rebellyous and what stage is the company currently at?

Christie (15:46):

Yeah, so we originally started our work making plant-based meat products to sell exclusively into food service. So we were selling into schools, hospitals, universities, corporate cafeterias, ballpark stadiums. That’s where we started, at early 2020 was really starting to ramp up production in order to serve our local area, Washington, California, Oregon customers in the food service realm. So all of that was very exciting, but they all had one thing in common, which is that they all got shut down during the pandemic. So almost overnight, our company, Rebellyous Foods lost nearly all of our customers. And we kept some obvious restaurant customers in which we hoped that would expand, but even restaurants got shut down in the end. So it was definitely hard times for us. The pandemic hit us hard, it hit us fast. And meanwhile, we were in the process of not only launching into new food service customers, but we were also launching our Kickin’ Nugget, which is our specialty plant-based chicken nugget for the national school lunch program.

Christie (16:45):

So we had all of those ingredients in our warehouse ready to go out to about a hundred school districts in the Midwest. And that of course got all shut down. So we had to quickly pivot over the course of April-May timeframe. We quickly transformed our team and our production to start serving consumer packaged goods or the CPG market. We launched with our food service products, putting them in bags for the consumer packaged goods. We had a bag made like a pretty bag that we use for just a limited time offer because we knew that probably wouldn’t be the bag we have long-term. And so it was all very fast and furious. And by the summer we realized as a lot of people probably realize pretty early on this wasn’t going away anytime quickly. This is a long-term commitment that we’re going to have to swap into a new market.

Christie (17:30):

And so we really committed to the CPG market and started a new line of products, chicken nuggets, patties, and tenders, and new Rebellyous chicken nugget, and then a Rebellyous tender and a Patty. We organized ourselves to get a better, more beautiful packaging that would serve the mainstream CPG market. And on February 1st this year, we launched that into about 20 to 30 grocery stores in Washington, California, and Oregon. So it’s out there. You can also get it online at GTFO It’s Vegan, which is an online retailer that can go nationwide. But for the most part, it’s in retailers in Washington, California, and Oregon. So brand new products out there in the middle of a pandemic.

Alex (18:10):

I love it. And that’s a crazy story, but it’s exciting that now it’s available. It’s ready. People can get it, and I’m excited to try it actually. So your team went through the YC program. YC is very well-known for traditional tech startups, but not so much food tech, at least not yet. How was your experience at YC being a food company?

Christie (18:37):

Yeah, so we went through YC in summer of 2018. When we went through YC, there actually were a couple of other food tech startups as well that, you know, also exist today. Spero Foods is making amazing plant-based cheese out of seeds and other more sustainable ingredients. So those companies alongside of Rebellyous and Seattle Food Tech, I think that navigated the landscape in the best way we could. Somebody said to me the other day, if your motto is to move fast and break things, you probably shouldn’t be in food. And that’s very true. You don’t have necessarily that kind of freedom as you would with developing software or applications or any of the other industries where you might be making something, but you’re not feeding it to somebody. So when you’re certainly not feeding it to people in hospitals or kindergarten. Adapting, what we learned in YC for the food industry was definitely challenging.

Christie (19:32):

And I definitely have had conversations about this with other food tech startups who went through YC. Luckily they did have quite a bit of background in biotech startups, and I think that’s where we gained the most from, but also just really understanding how to run a good startup, how to fundraise, how to pitch, how to make progress, how to do things that don’t scale at the beginning so that they can scale later, we’re all fundamentals of going through YC and then support and access from YC was beneficial as well. What YC and a lot of other accelerators don’t offer and what food industry companies do need is space to make products. And that was a huge challenge. So we all were figuring out commissary kitchens and things like that, where we could figure out how to make products and sell products and things like that.

Christie (20:17):

So all of that was really challenging. If you’re a software company, you can kind of hunker down at YC and write your software. That’s not so much possible in a food company. But other than that I do feel like it was a good platform for us. And I think the focus on tech and even biotech was appropriate for our company. Like some of the other food tech companies, we were not just dealing with food. We were also dealing with hard tech. And when I say hard tech, I just mean development of brand new equipment is not something that has a kind of predetermined timeline or a predetermined outcome. And as a result, having some support from YC in helping us understand how to navigate hard tech development was also very valuable despite the fact that we were a food tech company, we in particular, Seattle Food Tech really had to merge that idea of hard tech and food tech.

Alex (21:06):

I want to take a look at and really ask about how the food system is changing. And I want to group this together with the idea that we’re seeing products that mimic things like burgers, chicken nuggets, even beef jerky, will we be going beyond this phase? And is this something we even want to do? And really the question is what would be the next phase of plant-based meat products?

Christie (21:31):

It’s an interesting question because we’ve been making plant-based meat in the United States for 120 years. The first commercial plant-based meat was in 1899 and it was actually made of peanuts and it was called Protose. And there were a couple other versions that were similar to that. I think they made Nutose, I guess maybe just they were going with the T-O-S-E word at the end, but early plant-based meat products were essentially a reflection of the manufacturing at the time. And actually it really, for me, defined for me that history really showed me how much manufacturing technology influences the types of plant-based meat products and more generally the types of food products that we make in any particular era. So at the time plant-based meat actually predated by the way, industrial factory farming in 1899. Cause we really didn’t have intensified animal agriculture until really the end of the 1930s, early 1940s.

Christie (22:27):

And they’re really industrialized it in the 1950s and sixties. So a plant-based meat at the time was really a health product. It was a product that wasn’t necessarily advocating for people to eat less meat as much as it was addressing economic concerns, health concerns, things like that. And then on into the 1920s and the 1930s, plant-based meat got more and more sophisticated. It focused more on soy products and even more intensified that idea that these were health products, which compared to the meat, people were eating because particularly at the time it definitely was a health product and they still are considered much healthier than animal-based meat. So where I see the food industry is really trying to understand the arc of progress from the 1899 timeframe where the products we were making were like I said, a reflection of the manufacturing capabilities at the time.

Christie (23:18):

And they were also a reflection of what meat we ate at the time. Now we make a lot of plant-based burgers today because we eat a lot of burgers today and we want to make a lot more plant-based chicken because we eat a lot of chicken today. In fact, in the United States, we really only eat three animals and some Turkey, but the vast majority of the 107 billion pounds of animal-based meat is just three animals. And as a result, it isn’t too much of a surprise that the plant-based meat industry is trying to replicate the biggest segments of the meat industry. However, to answer your question more specifically about, are we going to see products beyond that? Absolutely. When it comes to tracking meat in the United States, the USDA tracks land animals. So I do believe that the next big push in plant-based meat has to be essentially replacing the volumous amount of fish products that we eat, which are not tracked in that 107 billion pounds of animal based meat.

Christie (24:18):

I think that what we do in the plant-based meat industry, not only tracks, obviously what consumers are eating in the animal based industry, but also our ability to actually replicate things like crab or tuna or even chicken. I think definitely things like jerky. I’ve never seen a USDA chart that said this much meat went into jerky. I know, a lot of people eat jerky, but they don’t eat anywhere near as much jerky as they do chicken or chicken nuggets or chicken tenders and chicken patties. And yet we spend a lot of time in the plant-based food industry, making a lot of jerky, which is fine. It’s a great product, but I think that’s also a reflection of our ability to make good products it’s shelf stable, just like it would be for animal-based meat. People like it a lot. It’s a snack that can be appropriately priced given the technology we have to make it. So again, it’s very much reflective of our abilities in the food industry and in the plant-based food industry to make these products and make them in a cost-effective way so that we sell them and make money. Our goal at Rebellyous is to make products and sell them that will truly move the needle on how much meat is produced in the animal based meat industry by effectively making products that, you know, are the same prices, animal-based meat.

Zack (25:29):

Yeah. And maybe just to chime in real quick on that and Alex, in some ways, when I hear your question, I start to think about the buzz, if you will, around structured or whole cut type products, right? Can we replicate bacon or a whole steak? And I think there’s a, obviously a much greater challenge in producing that type of product, particularly at a price point. That makes sense. But I think again, if we go back to burgers and chicken nuggets, and there’s just such a huge opportunity still in those segments for scale that I don’t think personally, I don’t think that you have to go into whole cuts or those product segments to get a drastic impact. And quite honestly, I think the largest opportunity is really around this concept of scale and getting enough scale and enough critical mass in ingredient production of novel plant-based proteins and maybe from different plant-based sources and getting that protein at a price point that allows the manufacturers of the finished products to compete equally on price.

Zack (26:34):

And then obviously it’s dependent upon the development of products that compete on taste and texture and quality too. So I think there’s a vast area of unexplored opportunity, but I think there’s still massive opportunity in just scale in just some of the segments that you know, being targeted today. I don’t think we should discount the fact that there still is this huge opportunity to compete. And even I think undercut on price, ultimately with the scale that can be driven into this industry. I think Christie kind of alluded to it. There has been a multi-decade headstart that the intensified animal agriculture industry has had on mechanization of processes to drive the cost of meat too. If you really, if you look at it, it’s impressively low price points. So that to me is the opportunity in the plant-based meat space to do kind of the same thing and to come down that cost curve.

Alex (27:30):

I like, Christie, what you said about the fact that you need to do something that moves the needle, but Zack, do you connect with the idea that manufacturing technology dictates the food products that we have largely to a certain extent?

Zack (27:42):

Yes. All of the technologies that are used have been designed for. And I’m talking about when I say technologies, essentially the machines, the mechanization has been designed for legacy or existing industry, even things like extrusion, which is used to texturize plant-based protein, that machine wasn’t designed specifically to turn pea protein or soy protein into the texture that you want for a plant-based burger. It was designed for another application and we’re just using that equipment to the best of our ability to accomplish those ends. And we’re obviously getting good at that, but I think there’s certainly an opportunity in improving upon and design specifically for the plant-based industry in the technologies that are being used.

Alex (28:29):

What are some of the biggest challenges that we’re about to face when it comes to the alternative protein industry?

Christie (28:36):

I think that the challenges that we are about to face are very much the challenges we’re already facing, which is that if we are truly to make this more than a trend, a blip on the historical market, we have to address scale and Zack really emphasized that well, and that is the challenge. That is the biggest challenge of the plant-based foods industry going forward. I feel like we have enough wheat and soy to make a lot of plant-based meat. Should we decide to direct it in that way and effectively build infrastructure to make enough products, to bring down the cost, to develop enough, better methods and equipment to bring down the cost. We’ve got a good supply chain, but it could always be better. But I think that the biggest challenge is the challenge that we’ve been talking about here today is better manufacturing, better facility and facility operations, and designing that for what we are trying to do.

Christie (29:33):

And I saw an article recently about the 3 millionth chicken shackle that was made by a company in Europe, I think, or maybe it was actually here in the U.S. And they were really touting how exciting it was that this chicken shackle, which is what they hang the chickens from when they’re about to slaughter them was just such a innovative tool at the time, because it essentially allowed them to kind of line up the chickens upside down and kill them very quickly. And that in and of itself really showed that they were solving the problem of industrialization. And now for all of these years, they’ve made so many of them, even though these are reuse tools over and over again, that they were celebrating a huge milestone that in of itself just really shows you that all of our industries really have to bring up the game when it comes to industrialization. Otherwise we’re not gonna meet the size and momentum of the meat industry. We have to do what they did in order for the industry to be more than a half a percent of the total meat industry, which purports to compete with

Zack (30:32):

I’ll echo that say, if I was going to boil my answer down to one word as well, it was going to be scale, maybe just a few kind of thoughts on that though. And I think that that idea of scale goes across multiple pieces of the industry though. And I’m going to go back to extruders cause that’s the example that I brought up a little bit earlier, even extruder manufacturer’s capacity to build those machines, to sell to the plant-based meat industry is constrained. There has to be actually scale up across certain parts of the supply chain. Most definitely even scale in taking soy and wheat and turning it into a functional protein ingredient that can be used by the end manufacturers there’s infrastructure there that’s required to be built. And a lot of that scale is around again, IP and on it because that’s the world that I’m most directly involved in at that built environment, that physical infrastructure that also goes into the question of how do you even finance all of that, right?

Zack (31:34):

There’s this really large question of scale, and it’s going to take a significant amount of investment to at the end of the day. And it can’t all be venture capital investment, right? You can’t build the kinds of scale that is necessary to make an impact on venture capital. And that takes time, right? So to me, it’s about how do you push that scale as quickly as possible and advance the industry. And that’s by showing that manufacturers at the end of the day can create cost competitive tasty products that people are going to want to buy, and they’re going to want to buy them instead of the frozen chicken nuggets maybe that they bought for 10, 15 years. It’s a complex challenge I think, to solve. But I think scale is really going to be the biggest barrier.

Alex (32:16):

I’m imagining a countertop extruder. That’s the new bread maker of 2021. Maybe we’ll see it! As we wrap up for entrepreneurs that are listening in and interested in starting their own alternative protein company, What suggestions, what advice do you have for them?

Christie (32:34):

I think my best advice from our experience starting and operating foods is try and try again. There’s nothing magical about what we’ve done. There’s nothing magical about there’s no overnight success, everything that we have been able to achieve to date happen because we put one foot in front of the other, it failed. Sometimes we try it again. And we tried again and we tried again. And I think that’s where some entrepreneurs do start to get frustrated is that when their original idea doesn’t pan out, that somehow they just walk away from it. That’s not the point of entrepreneurship. The point of entrepreneurship is to address a major social justice problem or a major economic market problem. And as a result, you have to really keep your eye on the ball to that bigger mission when it comes to starting a company, because how you get there is going to change, even if you don’t want it to, and there could be a global pandemic or something crazy like that, and it’s never going to be the path you think. So you have to be willing to try and try again. And that’s not just over the course of a year or a month or a week. It could change within a day. And we often say it Rebellyous where things can change in a day than in any other company in the world, because it often feels that way. And maybe it is because my team went through a global pandemic and had to shift our entire existence to another whole market. But that adaptability is what matters in the entrepreneurial world.

Zack (33:53):

Yeah. And I think obviously Christie, that’s great advice being a, an entrepreneur in this space. So I will really just chime in to say that anyone who is ultimately ending up going to make a food product or a plant-based ingredient for food products or a technology around this space, I’d encourage keeping in mind this concept of: at some point in commercializing it and scaling and going to market. There’s a need to produce that product in a real world built environment. And again, whether you contract manufacturer or you have your own manufacturing infrastructure, there’s a cost to that. And there’s a economic impact, like a techno economic model. I think if you neglect to consider the implications of making that product at scale and what the unit costs and including your capital and your operating expenses and everything like that, are you going to have a great product, but you also need something that can meet the constraints of the market. So I’d say not neglecting that and making sure that you consider how to go from the lab or the test kitchen or wherever you’re working on your initial product to the real world is a really important step.

Alex (35:04):

You can get in touch with Christie and Zach on LinkedIn and learn more about Rebellyous Foodsat That’s R E B E L L Y O U S. And learn more about Black and Veatch, Christie and Zach, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing your insight on the future food show.

Christie (35:29):

Thank you so much for having me.

Zack (35:31):

Yes. Thank you, Alex. It’s been a pleasure being on your show.

Alex (35:33):

This is your host Alex, and we look forward to being with you on our next episode.

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