The Interview Serves as a Course in How to Start a Vegan Business!
Veronica and Elysabeth also discuss…
- the hurdles of a start-up,
- scaling the products,
- packaging and shipping dilemmas,
- communications with the consumer,
- what went wrong along the way,
- tips for start-ups for getting funding,
- and her predictions for plant-based cheese.
Here is a short clip from their long-form conversation (above) and a transcript of same below.
$2 Million for a Vegan Cheese Recipe?
Elysabeth: I want to bring on Veronica Fil who’s the co-founder and CEO of Grounded Foods. Veronica, thanks for being with me.
Veronica Fil: Our original idea was to open a plant-based restaurant in LA, and the (vegan) cheese was just my side hustle. I figured if Sean’s going to open this restaurant then I can keep myself busy by commercializing some of his plant-based recipes that I think would be a good fit for the market, and it would just be a small hobby business. But the first investor we spoke to about the restaurant offered us $2M just for that (vegan) cheese recipe in the back of our picture deck. He just wanted that recipe and he would give us $2M for it and that was the moment when I was like, “Woah, woah woah, Sean, we need to spend a bit more time thinking about this. I think this idea might have legs. We’re on to something.” And that’s how the whole business opportunity began.
Elysabeth: Wow that is very much a fairy-dust story, I’ll say, because it isn’t often that people have an idea and they get immediate feedback, “I’d like to give you $2M.”
Advice for Budding Vegan Entrepreneurs: Learn to Pivot
Veronica Fil: I’m really glad we didn’t just take that offer. I think part of why we were successful is just having that mindset of agility; being able to ditch what your previous plan was and go in a completely different direction, which I think from what I’ve seen, sometimes start-ups struggle with that. You know, if they’re attached to a certain product because they love it so much. They sometimes struggle to take home consumer feedback and be able to pivot in a different direction if it doesn’t do well. Whereas, I think for Sean and myself we don’t care. Oh, no one wants it? Move on.
Elysabeth: Yeah, pivoting is the name of the game for sure. I love that tip for entrepreneurs.
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Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning TV journalist and New York Times best-selling author. She is the founder of UnchainedTV and the host of several shows on the network.