Ross Mackay is the CEO and founder of Daring, the leading plant-based chicken brand on a mission to remove chicken from the global food system.
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John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. This is a very special edition. We’ve got with us today on the Impact Podcast, Ross Mackay. He’s the Founder and CEO of Daring. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Ross.
Ross Mackay: Thank you, John. I appreciate it. I’m very excited to be here.
John: First of all, I love the name. We’re going to talk about how you came up with that name in a little while, but before we do that, first, talk a little bit about where you’re from, Ross. I know you’re in Los Angeles today. I’m in Fresno. You’re not originally from LA. Where are you originally from, and how did you even get where you are now? How did this journey get you here?
Ross: You may hear my accent, definitely not from the US. In here a couple of years, and we’d get into that, but originally from Scotland. Grew up in Scotland. Considering what I do now, it sounds very contradictory. Scotland’s very well-known for beef and salmon and horse whisky, but growing up, I actually played a lot of sport, played a lot of tennis, quite competitively, actually. I played for Scotland. Andy Murray’s mom was my coach, Judy. It’s shaped a lot of my junior life, the athlete in me. I was very much focused on performance, nutrition, recovery, and a lot of that is very much fundamentally as a result of what you put in your body. Very early on in the young age, I learned this common saying, “You are what you eat,” and I was eating a lot of animal protein, or I was told to eat a lot of animal protein because fundamentally, it’s “the healthiest way to live”, “the best way to perform”. Fast forward, I was 16, 17 years old, stopped playing tennis competitively, and took a step back and looked at what I was eating, if I felt good from it, if it made me feel great, if it made me look great, as well as often people do, and decided that I wanted to go in a different direction. I stopped all animal products, cut out my whey protein, cut out chicken, cut out eggs, cut out dairy, and as cliche as it sounds, I felt great. I felt like a new man. That led me into the plant-based journey, led me into trying many different types of products, as I’m sure you’ve tried yourself along your journey. What I found was there was something missing within health. There was something that was great on taste, may be good on texture, but fundamentally, always contradicting health, long list of ingredients, often, ingredients that made no sense to me, maltodextrin, [inaudible], gums, TaO2, and I felt like as an entrepreneur, that, in me, I wanted to create something that I always felt was missing. One, focused on chicken, my favorite protein at the time; and two, something truly healthy, something short, relatable ingredient, something really strong for macronutrient high-protein, low-carb, low fat, and that led me into creating Daring, venturing over to the US to try and raise some capital, and try and follow in the footsteps of many great brands that have done some awesome things in the space. I’ve been here since January of 2020, not so long, and we’ve been trying our very best to scale Daring since then. I’ll pause for a second.
John: That’s great. How old are you now, Ross?
Ross: I’m 31. All the plants are making me look 16, but I am 31.
John: I was saying, you look like you’re 20 years old. It’s amazing. It’s really amazing. When you were switching from your high-protein animal protein diet to plant-based eating, who was or is your guiding light? Did you read a book? Did you listen to a podcast? Where and in whom was your inspirational guiding lights?
Ross: A number of different resources. The data was young then. There wasn’t as many people tracking performance and recovery, following a plant-rich diet. I think a friend of yours, Rich Roll, was actually a great inspiration for me. I was watching him do the vegan mashed potato with his wife on YouTube many years ago, almost 10 years ago, and I started to play around in the kitchen myself and realized that, actually, you could enjoy food without the use of animal products. A number of different resources, a number of different “influencers” early on activating in the space, and obviously, today, you just don’t have to look far to see many people promoting education around the benefits of a plant-based diet.
John: I so agree with you. As my audience know, I’ve been a vegetarian. I’m 60 now. I’ve been a vegetarian approximately 43 years, and a vegan about 11 or 12 years, and Finding Ultra was one of my great inspirations. Rich is not only an inspirational human being as people go, but what he put in Finding Ultra, I think, has changed so many people’s lives. I was just wondering if that was one of the points that got you going and got you pumped. You came to America. Have you developed the product before you came to America?
Ross: Yeah. I remember getting dropped off at the airport in Glasgow International in January 4th, 2020. My Mom and Dad said, “I’ll see you in a week.” I haven’t been home yet, John. I will. I have plans to do so, but a reason I say that is I had north of $2,000 around in the account. We had about 2.3 pounds of product samples, a bench scale. I went over to the US, went over to New York, we had family and friends capital, like I said, a few thousand dollars. This money was meant to last me, until one night, I found more capital or two, like I said, I got a flight home and I haven’t been home yet. A lot of the last few years have been building the balance sheet to support audacious goals and vision we have. A couple months into being in America, obviously, COVID hit, which could definitely [inaudible] in our launch strategy, or even our whole vision across the channels. What was important then is the importance of health, the importance of plant-based being very much top of mind for a lot of investors, as they’ve watched the success of Beyond Me, the success of Impossible penetrate the market. Coming to the US with something different, something focused on chicken, something focused on clean and healthy, there’s a lot of people out there that have seen the pattern recognition of what it takes to scale a company. Fortunately, I landed on my feet here and we’ve done a couple raises in the last few years to support the business.
John: Well, hello to Mom and Dad back in Glasgow. I’ve been to your great country or homeland. I just think Scotland is just… the people are unbelievably warm, and it’s just some of the prettiest countryside on the planet, frankly speaking. What you didn’t share with your parents, then, was a week in the life of an entrepreneur is a very long period. It could be a very long period. What I’m also fascinated with is the immigrant story. My family is third generation now. I’m third generation Armenian, but you’re now first generation. You come over here. I think there’s something to immigrants and being entrepreneurs that I find the common themes in terms of, “Why do some folks succeed and others don’t in terms of your resilience, your flexibility, and your grit?” Do you find that to be true that those are three of your traits that when you came over here, you were determined to make this work?
Ross: Fundamentally, yes. I think the USA is a place that allows you to dream. It really does. It sounds like the back of a postcard or something, but the reason I say this is just a week prior to flying here with the same product, pitching to investors, pitching to retailers, pitching to restaurants in my hometown, people laughed.
John: Is that incredible? [crosstalk] You’re a hometown hero and you think they’d all want to just rally around you and lift you on the shoulders.
Ross: I think definitely not a hometown hero. Again, a week later at the US, people got it. There were people that I was able to connect with that had seen great products, they understood the big market, the opportunity, and I think it’s just where I grew up, as many like you said, it’s a beautiful country, but not many entrepreneurs and skilled businesses there and launched them in America. I felt I have to be here. I had to be around bigger thinkers, necessarily bigger town[?], you eat a lot of chicken over here in America, and access to capital to scale the company.
John: We’re going to go into that in a second. For our listeners and viewers who just joined, we’ve got Ross Mackay with us. He’s the Founder and CEO of Daring. We’re going to be talking about naming this great brand, and also, what I experienced with your wonderful products, these are just two of the great sample products that you and your team were kind enough to send me that I’ve tried already, and we’re going to talk about that. To find Ross and his colleagues and their great plant-based chicken products, please go to www.Daring.com.
Ross, now, you’re a very humble guy because if I was sitting in your shoes, I probably would have led with, “Well, John, my investors were and my investors are”, but you didn’t say that. I’m just going to share with our listeners and our viewers, among your investors, as a stranger coming to this promised land, you’ve happened and found a way to land Drake, Steve Aoki, Naomi Osaka, and Cam Newton, among others. That sounds like a magic trick. How did you find a way as a stranger in this promised land, with not a lot of dough in your pocket, to meet these folks and convince them to invest in your delicious products?
Ross: I think to the listeners, I think raising money and building a great business are separate things. I want to start with that.
John: I fully agree.
Ross: We’re focused on the latter, building a great business, and we’ve been successful raising money. Let’s see if we can be successful at building a great business now. Our first investor was a company called Maveron Ventures, I guess, when Dan Levitan partnered with Howard Schultz to look at early-stage companies. Very quickly after that, we were fortunate enough to raise money and investment from some of the names they are along with, more prolific, crossover funds like D1 Capital, Founders Fund, Peter Thiel led our last round of funding, as well, so really an influx of great investors, individuals that have seen companies go from obscurity to ubiquity very quickly, and then challenged big markets, but I think overall, the alignment in mission, the alignment in putting capital to great use, it’s not often where you can essentially create real value for not only consumers, but also the sustainability, ESG impact of what we’re doing day-to-day. I think as you look at the investment horizon, that has become more and more important to investors and LPs across the landscape. Also, celebrities, you talk about individuals like Drake, Cam Newton, Naomi Osaka, their sponsorship deals every day, they walk out the door, but where do they want to put their name behind? The days of attaching themselves to the Coca-Colas necessarily are not as exciting, even though the paychecks are real. I think it’s a mixture of impact and great product. Part of my role as a CEO and many other,, I would say, CEOs’ responsibility should be set the vision, build a team, if that’s internal and external, and to fund the company. That is a responsibility.
John: How much to date have you raised, approximately?
Ross: Just north of 120 million in the last year and a half.
John: I think, Mom and Dad, if you’re listening, I think it’s time to come over to LA and visit Ross because I don’t think he’s going home anytime soon.
Ross: No, I don’t think so. I will soon, but they’re welcome here anytime.
John: You raised this capital. Like you said, it is a very astute comment for a young entrepreneur to make raising capitals, one art and one science, but building a business is a whole different set of qualities and set of skills. How do you toggle between both, and how is the building? You’ve succeeded massively. Truly, my hats off to you in raising capital with those kind of names, influencers that are worldwide known celebrities. How did you then transition and toggle into now building this great brand that you have on your hands?
Ross: Building a team. I mentioned the responsibility of the CEOs to definitely fund the company and set the vision, especially in the early days, but you go from spinning every plate to hopefully spending less plates in the ones where you think you can have the greatest impact. I was fortunate enough to, yes, attract capital, but also attract other great entrepreneurs to join me on building this organization. When I look left and right and all across the org[?], we have great members of the Daring team. We have people that have seen large scale conglomerate business process driven and we have people that have been entrepreneurs, themselves. We have a real balance of, like I said, pattern recognition on building and also the grit and determination and eating [inaudible] every other day to just keep going. I think the most important thing that as being essential for getting us here. and I still feel like we’re just starting, is building that team, one, to allow me to go through other [inaudible] and know different opportunities to build and to raise, but also to help me execute on what it takes to build the business. Kudos to me for hiring the team, but kudos to my team for taking the leap and “being Daring” and joining us on the mission.
John: Who was your food scientist that you brought on originally to help you create this great product?
Ross: A gentleman, Paul Newman. Paul is an awesome individual. He heads up the R&D and Innovation team at Daring, years of experience, building out the Kellogg’s business, plenty of patents under his belt, a lot of IP[?] generated. Most recently, he was at Califia Farms, the oat and almond milk alternative dairy company. He joined us at Daring to build out the product suite. I feel very fortunate. Under him, he has a roster of awesome individuals across product directors, scientists, and so on. It’s amazing to see what he does every day in the office
John: How many employees do you have now?
Ross: I think we’re at about 45. It’s very lean. I think one of the advantages of being such a lean organization is it allows you to move quick. I often say, “We might not win on resources, headcount, capital, but we will win on speed and velocity and cadence that we move at.” Like I said, two years in this country and we’re in 11,000 supermarkets. I think if that says anything, then speed is something that’s important to us. That nimbleness and that ability to move quick with a 40-plus person team is something that I think is a real advantage to us.
John: You just talked about speed. One of our core values at ERI, which are printed on everybody’s signature block is, “Speed matters. Every second counts.” There’s a lot of smart people out there. There’s a lot of smart people, there’s a lot of money out there. You got to just execute every day at the highest rate you can.
Ross: Absolutely. Completely agree.
John: Who was the person or people who came up with the name, Daring? I love the name. I just think it’s awesome.
Ross: That is something I will take credit for. I touched on my diet, growing up, wasn’t as fun and friendly as it is today, let’s just say that. It was a friend of mine who was living a vegetarian lifestyle. He’s a very fit individual. We ran marathons and he looked great. He took a look at my plate one day and said, “You eat far too much animal protein.” I said, “No, you got to. This is what makes you big and strong.” He said, “I dare you to go a week without meat.” “I’ll take that $10 bet and let’s see where it goes.” That’s where the name originated from. I think [crosstalk]
to us, now, Daring is more than a name. It’s a philosophy we’re committed to bring in to light and supporting daring people who are challenging the status quo. It’s about blazing[?] unconventional paths and creating meaningful change in the world. That is what Daring is. We’re very proud to work with a number of different influencers, most recently a campaign with world champion fencer, Miles Chamley-Watson, and that really was to inspire different trailblazers who are being daring every single day. That’s what it’s all about. We always say we’re more than a product, we’re a philosophy, and we’re a movement. You’re daring for your journey and your story, and I’m daring for mine. My wife’s daring. Everyone else has their story, so that’s what it’s all about.
John: Did your wife move with you from Scotland? Did you meet your wife here?
Ross: I met my wife here, actually. I met her in New York. We’re familiar with each other before. She’s also not from the US. She’s from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. [crosstalk]
John: She’s a plant-based eater?
Ross: For the most part, yes, absolutely.
Ross: I think it’s going to take a little bit more innovation and a little bit more investment into other parts of her diet to really make that full switch. Like I said, this is not about creating more vegans. This is like giving more great options to more meat-eaters, and that’s how we change it.
John: That’s a brilliant point, Ross. Everyone thinks being a plant-based eater is all or nothing exercise. You just disavowed them of that. It’s just getting more options and mixing your diet up a little bit more so you can have some just really great products that are plant-based to enjoy, instead of just everything being the legacy products that we had 30 or 40 years ago.
John: Let’s talk about this. You get in at 2020, you raise some dough, you move to the West Coast. When did you move to the West Coast?
Ross: I moved to the West Coast, actually, about a year and a half ago. I was in New York for a year and a half-ish. I’ve been here for the last year, year and a bit.
John: When did you then know you had a product, you’re ready to go, and then you launch the product? How did that go? What was the first email, fax, or text message knowing that you got your first order in the door? Who made the first order?
Ross: A fellow Scot named Jack Sinclair, CEO of Sprouts [crosstalk]
John: Great brand.
Ross: Yeah, great brand. I was fortunate enough, reached out to him on whim, somehow, and I managed to find his email. You can find anything on the internet. I said, “Fellow Scot here, ready to change your business.” He said, “Well, come in to Scottsdale and show me what you’ve got.” He was kind enough to open his kitchen at the headquarters, bring in the right people who controlled the category within frozen, and they got it right away. They’d seen Beyond and it seemed impossible, and I think they’d seen both the pros and the cons of those products. He said, [crosstalk]
John: Take our audience. Walk about that day. Who did you decide to take with you on the trip? How many days in advance did you go down? What was the pre-game plan? Where did you stay? Did everything go to plan or were there somewhat some potholes or hurdles you hit while you were down there the big day of the show?
Ross: Well, this was the week I landed here. I was in New York, and that was the opportunity, three or four days in to being in New York. The email response came in and it was, “Where do you stay at?” I replied, saying, “Well, I’m in Scottsdale.”
John: What an entrepreneur move there. You’re an innate entrepreneur to say that. That’s a rarity. That’s great.
Ross: Trying to get on someone’s schedule two weeks on Tuesday wasn’t going to work for me, and certainly wasn’t going to work for our cash flow at the time. We hustled together with me, and I will say, I took the remaining product that I had. We took a one-way ticket to Scottsdale.
John: Just you and the product?
Ross: Just me and the product, and a frying pan. I swear, I still have that frying pan. I think I didn’t really know what to expect, John. My expectations were… obviously, I’m optimistic, but getting in the meeting was so exciting to me. To be at a retail headquarter, roads, 300 doors talking the natural channel, it was a dream. I was so excited at the logos and the brands they were working at Sprouts all over, and it was a beautiful office, obviously, a warm welcome from a fellow Scot, which was always a good icebreaker. I’ve been cooking this product now on and off for the best part of a year and a half through innovation, so it wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. Kicking in, it’s downstairs in their beautiful kitchen, and I brought the food up and I’m nervous because it’s getting cold, when you travel in the elevator. You wait for that first bite. They pick up their product and they look at you, and you’re waiting, and they’re, “That’s pretty good.” He goes for another, and a second, and a third, and a fourth, and the plate’s clean. I’m thinking, “Yeah. Here we go.”
Ross: That was that. He had his buyer, Scott Reed, awesome individual. They said, “Okay. When can we launch this?” Bear in mind, I had no product. I hadn’t commercially scaled, I hadn’t found a manufacturer to take this to full scale. I didn’t even have a packaging design ready. This was in a plastic bag. He said, “When do you want to launch?” I said, “I’m ready whenever. I have the supply chain bill out, we’re in a US company where we’re in.” He said, “Okay. How about March? We’re doing a review in March,” and it’s two and a half months. I said, “Sure. How many stores?” “All of them.” “Okay.”
John: First of all, another great entrepreneur move. You just say yes and you figure it out after you get the deal. You said yes, again, amazing innate skills, and then to put together a packaging that is so… really, your packaging is gorgeous. To do this on such short notice, how did you pull that off?
Ross: That was just a skill set of one of my first employees. He was a designer at home that lives here in the US also with us. It was with my cousin, his partner. She just designed it, and the packaging has changed since then a little bit, but that was on the shelf for the best part of two years. Success in Sprouts remains top or the number one in the category. We’re doing really well there. I will say, the last thing is I have to then go and set up a US company and do all that, and get the logistics and get the supply chain and get the import, [crosstalk] and get some money. It helps. I think the overall takeaway in here is putting those tight timelines on things, like you said, it forces you to move quick. I think often when you do hire and you build a team who have potentially done this more than you, they want to push things out. It’s your job to squeeze. You want to do it in 20 days? What does 10 look like? What does two look like? That’s something that I think, obviously, a lot could have gone wrong, but thankfully, we shipped the product. A few things did go wrong, but the best part, [crosstalk] that’s normal. Exactly.
John: So you got the book end of the launch, a brilliant launch with Sprouts that has gone swimmingly well for two years. Now, talk about Ben and Mel. Where are you now? How many doors do you have now? Where can our listeners and viewers find you today? They’re going to want this, and I’m going to go talk about a little bit about my experience with your product.
Ross: Yeah, absolutely. Daring is available through the delivery systems like Amazon Fresh, Gopuff, Instacart, and meal delivery services like Sunbasket and Perfect Foods, Hungryroot. More impressively, I think it’s their national distribution in more than 11,000 stores, like Target, Whole Foods, Albertsons, Walmart, Kroger, of course, Sprouts and Bristol Farms in Erewhon, and you name it. I think it’s unheard of.
John: It’s everywhere.
Ross: Yeah, we’re everywhere. That’s the mission. Our mission is to bring tasty, healthy, plant-based chicken to as many people as possible to drive a change in this pit[?] system. That is what plant-based means. It’s not a niche product. This is to remove chicken from the food system is our actual mission, and we only do that by penetrating as many stores with as many SKUs as possible. When we launched here in one product, we’re now four. You’ll see a lot of innovation come to market in 2023.
John: Your team was kind enough to send me all four of your products. These are the two I tasted last night, and I’m going to tell you, I’ve been eating plant-based food for a long time. I have a couple of data points I want to share with our listeners. First of all, your food was delicious, [crosstalk] both the breaded and the original. I wanted to try the original, I wanted to try to breaded because breaded is my favorite after the original. I figured it’d be a great understanding of what your product tastes like. It was just on the tongue, and digestion, just delicious. The other things I always think about is, does it interfere with my sleep? My sleep was perfect last night, literally perfect. I woke up at 6:00, and I went and worked out for an hour and a half, lifting weights. I was real strong this morning. I’m going to just tell you and our listeners, this Daring product is not only a delicious plant-based substitute, but it burns really well in my body. I have a pretty sensitive stomach and also sensitive sleep habits. I’ll tell you, I would be shocked if other folks didn’t have a similar or great experience with your products, as well. Just tremendous. Thank you very much for sharing these. They were really great, and I’m going to be sharing with my son and daughter, who are adults, and they are married with spouses. This will be in all of our homes now. Just a great product. How about restaurants? Are you getting picked up in restaurants across the United States?
Ross: Yes. That’s a big part of our strategy. In fact, launching the company, that was the strategy. COVID did a slight change in that. John, we’re in a lot of great restaurants. You look at Miami and New York, LA, all across the country, we’re in some of the top restaurants from [inaudible] to Delilah Hwood Group in LA.[crosstalk] Look at Miami, were in Komodo, number one restaurant in the country, Swan, [inaudible], a lot of colleges and universities selling Daring, but actually, beginning of last month, we’re already attached with Starbucks. We’ve been testing Starbucks products with Daring, of course, for the last few months, and the feedback has been amazing. We’re hopeful that that progresses, but that’s been a really exciting opportunity for us, more and more people learning about Daring. I think, like I said, that bit falls into the real value proposition. I appreciate your feedback on the product. That is why I started the business. I was more of an athlete, growing up. I cared about health, cared about what I put in my body. I cared how I felt. When you look at the landscape of plant-based over the last three plus years, no one’s really looked at health. No one’s looked at macronutrients. Our product is 90 calories per serving, 14 grams of protein, zero net carbs, very low in fat, almost two grams, and that is what chicken is. It’s given to be the healthiest protein the world, that’s why people love it. It’s versatile and it’s healthy. No plant-based meat thus far has been versatile and healthy. It has been, yes, better for the world, yes, better for animal welfare, but not better for humans. That is what our mission is. I think that’s what the next wave of plant-based is. That’s the 2.0. You’re seeing headwinds in the category today. Fundamentally, products need to be better, and I think we’re spearheading that. I appreciate it. It’s how I feel. Your product can be put on a salad. It doesn’t need to be put in between a bun and two pieces of gluten. This is really different in the industry.
John: That’s really great. What’s your vision for 2023 and beyond? You have four products now When we talk again, and hopefully, we’ll do an interview in person in the coming 12 months as you enjoy and evolve and scale your journey. How many more products you want to get online in 2023 and 2024?
Ross: A number of TBD, but we’ll definitely double our product. We want to focus on different use cases. We want to get more convenience to the market. We’ve launched a ready-to-eat product within restaurants. Right now, we’re frozen. If we think about the future of Daring, maybe it’s more convenient, maybe it’s already cooked, maybe it’s already about sauce or flavor. Next year, you’ll see more flavor expansion and more focus on versatility and convenience within our products.
John: Now, they have 11,000 doors in the United States and some of the greatest brands in terms of restaurants and hospitality chains. How do you set your sights on international growth? What’s the right way to do this without the wheels coming off?
Ross: I’m a big believer in just do one thing really well and earn the right to be building international business, 100 billion dollar wholesale chicken market. Plant-based, as a whole, isn’t even a billion dollar business. Plant-based chicken is a couple hundred million. We’re not scratching the surface. Let’s stay focused. Let’s stay as lean as possible. Let’s not get over skis[?]. We got a lot of work to do in the US before we start building an international supply chain. It is definitely a goal of mine, but I [crosstalk] think we got to stay focused right now.
John: I totally agree with you. You stay hyperfocused on the mission. The world will be the path to your door.
Ross: Yeah, build a great brand and you can pump innovation all-day.
John: I’m almost 30 years older than you so I’m fascinated as you as a young entrepreneur that has, “Let me just share with you”, amazing instincts. You were born to do this. I’m glad you left tennis and became an entrepreneur because in the entrepreneur industry, you would be what we call a “sure thing” because you got it in you. You already have it in you. How are you leveraging social media? It wasn’t a thing when I was 31 years old and an entrepreneur. How does social media play into you gaining more ground in the analog world with doors and with restaurants, and things of that such?
Ross: Personally or through the brand?
John: Through the brand. How do you manage your social media needs through the brand, and is it something that you saw as a huge need or is it just a want and on the to-do list after you create a great product and after you get traction?
Ross: It’s a fine line of really focusing on what moves the needle. We don’t sell online. It’s not like we’re steering consumers on to our website to buy a bundle online. This platform is really about showcasing recipes. It’s about showcasing different retailers, showcasing different use case experiences. For us, that team is led by a phenomenal individual, Laura, on our team. She’s doing a great job of building the brand, showcasing the type of lifestyle that our consumers are having. I apologize while I plug my laptop charger in, but I think it’s very important. Brands still win in this place. In the space, we’re in the consumer packaged goods business. This is not a commodity. It needs to look sexy, it needs to look cool. It need to look as inspirational. I think today, plant-based meat is still going through a difficult time and really shaping that kind of brand you want to be. It’s a great place for education. It’s a great place to show consumers, one, how to cook it, and two, educate on why Daring and why plant-based. We love playing around with that. We’re still testing and learning. For me, personally, LinkedIn is a big platform. It’s a great place to connect. It’s a great place to get media out. I think it’s underutilized, and I’m still learning it, as well. Those are the two main focuses for us.
John: Funny, you say that. LinkedIn is, by far, my favorite platform, and the most valuable. I found this [crosstalk]. Your thoughts on the future of the plant-based market, both in terms of restaurants and also what you’re doing, creating great products and getting them into consumers’ hands so they have more options.
Ross: Yeah, I think it’s obvious. You just have to turn on the news or LinkedIn, even, to see the different headwinds that this category is facing. I see this by absolutely no means do I mean to bash different brands or products, but I think when you look at the disconnect between the consumption data of why people are choosing plant-based and what brands are messaging, there’s a disconnect. What I mean is 70 plus percent of consumers are stepping into plant-based to be healthier, to eat less meat, to lose weight, to lower cholesterol. They’re made with products, fundamentally, that are higher in X and Y, sodium, calories, fat, ingredients, so there’s that disconnect. I think when that is a consumer’s experience, should time consumption data may fall, what is needed is a new wave of innovation, a new wave of products, 2.0, like the technology world evolved, so did plant-based evolved.
Ross: You think of the apps and the platforms we used to use, you would have dumped them now. It needs Innovation, and that is what I think we’re doing. My outlook is extremely optimistic. I think it has been a difficult time for retailers and restaurants to know which one to choose. I think this tough time will fundamentally be unfortunate for many brands as they may be [inaudible] or fade away, but the one thing I think is needed is just more tasty, healthier, great products. Individuals like me and you talking about it, allowing people to pick it up at a Starbucks or a Walmart, it doesn’t matter where. It used to be only Erehwon and Whole Foods. Now, you can get it at Walmart, and then a supply chain is required, more and more investment into the domestic supply chain. I think a lot of brands suffer to make product in one area, a packet in one area, breaded in another area, across the country, and that obviously affects price on shelf and margin. A lot of things are required, but I’m extremely excited to see what the next couple of years show.
John: Obviously, extremely excited to continue to see your journey unfold and to meet you in person, and we’ll do a live interview. Maybe we’ll even do a live cooking interview one day in LA [crosstalk] in the near future. I’d love to do that. I think that would be a lot of value for our listeners and viewers to listen to that. Again, let’s give a shout out to… you have 11,000 doors, Amazon Fresh, Gopuff, Instacart, Sunbasket, Hungryroot, Imperfect Foods, Target, Whole Foods, Albertsons, Walmart, and Kroger. You can find these great Daring products. I dare you to try Ross’ delicious, great, chicken plant-based products. You’re going to feel better. Your life will be better. You don’t have to eat plant-based all the time. Just integrate it into your diet. Ross, you are making such a positive impact on this planet. Thank you for being a guest on the Impact Podcast. You’re always welcome back, and I wish you continued success in your journey.
Ross: John, thank you for the wonderful plug. I appreciate the conversation. Look forward to having you to our office, try some new innovation. We’ll definitely have that cook-off. Thanks to your listeners for tuning in. I appreciate it.
John: This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital from Venture Capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.ClosedLoopPartners.com. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform, revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent for speeches, custom experiences, livestreams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit letsengage.com.