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Looking for People Interested in Exploring Plant-Based Startups

I'm considering founding a plant-based meat startup and would love to be connected to anyone who is interested in further researching this with me (bio at the end). I’m currently researching this option primarily with Daniel Gastfriend and Joan Gass, two grad students at Harvard and Stanford who are also considering it, so replying to this post will introduce you to a group of individuals exploring this idea.

 

To be clear, I'm in the very early stages of researching options and I may do other things, depending on how promising it looks. If I do pursue this option, I’ll finish my masters program in May 2018 and plan on working on it after that.

 

I'm highly uncertain about what product to create and expect that my ideas will change considerably as I learn more. However, I lean towards doing:

 

  • Chicken or fish, unless a great opportunity elsewhere emerges, due to the greater suffering of animals caused by these products

  • Plant-based meats, as opposed to clean meat or cell cultured products, due to my perception of scientific feasibility and time horizons

  • Products with a high counterfactual impact (i.e. products that appeal to meat eaters and flexitarians, as opposed to vegans and vegetarians)

  • Meats that have a high profit margin, as this will be more likely to be profitable and scalable

  • Meats that could plausibly be replicated with tasty & cost-competitive plants

  • Institutional sales, as opposed to selling directly to consumers, due to a more favorable industry analysis

  • Products unlikely to be created through cell cultured alternatives in the near term 

 

We’re open to help from anyone who is interested, no relevant background necessary. I'm especially excited about people who meet any of the following criteria, but don’t feel put off if you don’t meet many of them (or any!):

 

  • Work/academic experience in food science, cellular agriculture, animal issues, or any food-related field

  • Share EA values

  • Have done “big” things before, i.e. have a demonstrated track record of impact and success. This can be in any field.

  • Have demonstrated “grit.” This means that you have done very hard things over a sustained period of time.

  • Prior experience with startups, venture capital, or entrepreneurship

  • Public speaking, writing, marketing, and/or media skills

  • Social skills, management experience, and/or able to work well with people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets

  • People who I would personally work well with - I’m very nice/fun/cool, I promise! :)

 

If you would consider doing a project like this, please shoot me an email at scott dot weathers at mail dot harvard dot edu or send me a message on Facebook. If possible, please provide a bit of information about how strongly you are considering this idea, when you’d want to do it, and any other ideas you may have!

 

Lastly, please also share with your friends and colleagues, as it has very high expected value.

 

***

About Me: I’m currently a grad student in global health at Harvard. I’ve helped start a GiveWell incubation non-profit that focuses on SMS reminders for vaccines and convinced Congressional Republicans to support global health legislation during the Obama administration. This past spring, I coauthored an open letter on factory farming to the WHO, which earned nearly 300 expert signatories and was published in the New York Times. My work has been published or discussed in the New York Times, Guardian, Vox, Huffington Post, NowThis, and more. You can get a sense of my resume on LinkedIn and the things I think about on Twitter.

Comments (8)

Comment author: Julia_Wise  (EA Profile) 14 November 2017 05:06:07PM 5 points [-]

This is a random idea: I wonder if the kosher market would be a good place for a plant-based meat company to get started. Since a plant-based meat would be pareve (neither meat nor dairy), it could be combined with dairy, which means customers who keep kosher might have particular interest in plant-based meat replacements.

Comment author: Lila 14 November 2017 04:51:21PM 4 points [-]

I'm a 4th year PhD student in bioinformatics. I've previously considered doing something similar, though I focused more on stem cell technology, which is most relevant to my current research. However, would definitely be interested in discussing further!

Comment author: scottweathers 14 November 2017 05:43:32PM 0 points [-]

Excellent to hear! Please get in touch! :)

Comment author: che  (EA Profile) 14 November 2017 05:31:05PM 3 points [-]

Thanks for posting this and for opening up the process! It's a fast-moving space, obviously, and it might be best to start with an informal survey of what's currently available and what's under development.

You've probably already looked at GFI's white space doc, but if not then it might be a good place to start: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zCwLkwqwYzfzxwIm1-iHrvheRhMhbLYBxqEiz_7bHdE/edit

Comment author: scottweathers 14 November 2017 05:43:12PM 0 points [-]

Thanks! We started there and are definitely considering several ideas on that list.

Comment author: lisa 05 December 2017 11:50:59PM 0 points [-]

You might like to read about sunfed meats https://sunfedfoods.com/

Comment author: EschersDemon 15 November 2017 03:58:17PM 0 points [-]

What if I'd like to help but am too busy to work on this full-time?

Comment author: scottweathers 15 November 2017 07:57:11PM 0 points [-]

Shoot me an email! We aren't at the stage to use many volunteers right now but we'd love to hear from you.