Podcast 1: MeliBio’s CEO and Co-Founder Darko Mandich speaks with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about starting a honey alternative company 

Big Idea Ventures is launching our very own podcast “The Big Idea Podcast: Food”. Each week Big Idea Ventures’ Founder Andrew D. Ive will speak with some of the most innovative minds in the food space about the exciting projects they are a part of. 

To listen to the first episode featuring MeliBio Inc.‘s CEO and Co-Founder Darko, click on the links below!

 

The podcast can be viewed at the links below:

 

Please view the transcript of the interview below.

00:14 

Hi, this is Andrew from the big idea food podcast. Today we’re going to be talking to Darko Mandich. Darko is the CEO and co founder of Melibio. Melibio is an incredible company focused on creating fermentation and cell based honey, honey without the bees. It is at the micro level, identical to honey that didn’t require the supply chain, the kind of weeks or months of production and the little insects that helped create it. So they’re going to be transforming the sweetener industry and the honey industry. Please find out more about Melibio on today’s podcast with the big idea food podcast. Any comments or questions? please do leave a comment or question at the end of this podcast. Many thanks. 

01:14 

Darko 

01:15 

Mandich CEO and co founder of Melibio, how are you sir? 

01:23 

I’m doing great. Thank you for this opportunity, Andrew, to talk about honey and bees and different things that make life beautiful. That’s a great, 

01:33 

great way of kicking it off. Tell us about Melibio honey and bees and things that make life beautiful. 

01:41 

I love talking about Melibio, because we really believe that companies today should make this world a better place. And I’ll start with saying that Melibio is the world’s first company to develop a technology to produce real honey without beef. And I strongly emphasize real honey. Because it’s not only the delicious, amazing taste that brings the complexity of different flavors and amazing indulgence of of consumption, but also the amazing benefits that are found in up to 300 micronutrients that are generally found in honey. So we have Melly bio are looking to deliver the same product like bees, just remove the bees from the equation of honey production, for many reasons, 

02:35 

but I think we’re all pretty experienced folks, we all know that honey comes from bees. How the heck do you create honey without bees? It’s like saying, you know making I was gonna say making milk without cows. But we’ve done that, haven’t we? We’ve already done that. With perfect day and others. So yeah, how how do you take honey bees out of the equation. 

02:59 

Honey is a very complex product. And the first step in removing bees from the equation of honey production is actually looking into bees and looking at what’s happening out there. So you basically have these wonderful creatures animals, unfortunately stucked in bee hives, and they go out from their, from their beehives, and they collect nectar and pollen from different flowers, different plants. And certain reaction is happening in their guts, where they convert that nectar into the building blocks of honey, which are fructose and glucose. So basically looking into them. We are recreating that structure in our lab, where we use the proprietary feedstock that resembles the nectar and we use certain microorganisms to help us convert that proprietary next there are two building blocks of honey, that’s just the beginning. And definitely honey is not only about fructose and glucose, it’s about many amazing micronutrients that we are also adding they’re basically delivering the same product just as these 

04:15 

Okay, so it’s your proposition and I know you guys have been working on it for some time now that you can actually create something that has the look, the taste and even you know, the micronutrients down to the you know, I wouldn’t say atomic level but down to the smallest level of honey you think you can duplicate it without needing the bee 

04:39 

I’m I’m proud to say that on a molecular level, we are matching what bees are doing. And we believe that it’s really important for death to be done properly because the power of honey actually lies and if details. There are companies out there producing alternative to honeys that kind of work. look alike are tastes similar like honey, but because they don’t deliver that composition, that product is not as superior as honey coming from the beach. So we have signed up for a very difficult challenge. But we are really obsessed with this product because we know the power of honey. And we are really looking forward to bring the product that allows everyone not to make compromise. You know, we see the value of Melibio doing this from environmental perspective, from sustainability perspective, efficiency perspective, but we really believe that the future of food, that is, that is animal food, but not coming from animals shouldn’t be about compromise. And that’s what our technology is helping us. 

05:50 

So any of us that have sort of been interested in this space for a while, we’re being told that, you know, bees are incredibly important for our ecosystem for our ability to grow agriculture, flowers, vegetables, crops, etc. Everything is somewhat dependent on actually I’m being under I’m and I’m always always downplaying it. You know, bees are a critical component of that, that ecosystem, to the point where we’ve become quite nervous, right of what’s actually happening to the bees and the consequences that can have on our on our longevity as a species. Can you talk a little bit about that? Why are bees so important are be so important. You know, what’s, what’s going on here? 

06:39 

You just made an introduction that reminds me of August 20 2012, when I was about to join the first job straight out of my business school. And that first job was in a honey company that I actually joined, buying into the vision of joining the industry that is really important, not only because it delivers amazing product, but because it is helping many wonderful creatures that are bees to survive. People hear about bees every day, there are news about bees dying in France, bees, bees dying in the United States, there’s news about colony collapse disorder. But unfortunately, I believe that public doesn’t have the entire image and entire knowledge of what’s actually happening with the beats. So, in the honey production, we use a single bee species called honey bees. And honeybees are actually not native to North America. They they were abroad on Spanish galleons in around 1622, Central America, and then they were taken up north to the current territory of United States and Canada. So honeybees were selected by humans as a species that we can easily domesticate that we can put in different beehives, and we can use them for honey production and pollination. So with the rising demand for both pollination and Honey, what happened is that many new bee hives that are being introduced in habitats, they were actually making an issue in bee biodiversity, because besides honeybees, there are other 20,000 wild and native bee species that live in smaller groups, and that are being attacked by honeybees, and their food and their territories being taken over. So, you know, like, like, it’s happened with many other things, the growth of population and the demand for something that we love, started the killing something that is really nice. So basically, with honey production, and with commercial beekeeping expanding out there, we created a huge problem. Definitely, there are many problems with honeybees like colony collapse disorder pesticides, but once we see as a long term strategic issue is that if we keep expanding commercial beekeeping, and if we only have commercial beekeeping as a sole source of honey production, that means basically that we would killing the bee biodiversity. And people ask me what will happen if we kill other bees and just have plenty of honey bees, what will happen is that we will not have the world as we have it today, because honey bees are not enough to pollinate all the wild plants out there. They’re just an average pollinators. So when I looked into this in end of 2018, and 2019, I was I was really my mind was blown away because, you know, I joined this industry, the hunting industry 10 years ago, and I felt like I’m really helping the bees but when I came across these studies, I started thinking from a different perspective. And I asked myself a question, should I be embarrassed for what I did in my in my previous career? Or should I take everything what I did as equity, and use it to change the very industry that I joined with many loves and caring about both the product and the animals, and I definitely chose the latter. 

10:23 

So let me just let me just summarize what I’m hearing. Originally, the biodiversity in nature was being pollinated, pollinated by 20,000 30,000, a wide range of insects and bees and different kind of more wild creatures. Ultimately, because of our our desire to domesticate and create honey and pollinators, we took a specific insect and we we domesticated it, putting it in hives, and so on. And those creep those honeybees are pushing out or encroaching on the lap of the space and the territories of the original insects, the original pollinators, and causing them to have their own challenges. It also put, I guess, puts a significant reliance on one particular insect in terms of as the core pollinator even though it wasn’t the original pollinator it’s now becoming the dominant one. And now everything is being dependent on one particular kind of insect is that what is that? What I’m hearing, and it says you’ve got, and you said, you’ve gone through a number of studies that have figured this out? Correct. 

11:40 

Thank you for summarizing that. Andrew, my co founder, Eric and I, we’ve, we’ve read many studies that we decided to put together in summarizing to a bee report. Last year, we publish as a company, the state of the bees report, where we actually explain what’s happening to the studies that are being conducted out there. You know, it’s, it’s very interesting, because the bees are an amazing world that is being open to the wider public. And we really want to be out there and help spreading the entire story on the bees, because you know, honey bees are good. It’s just that if the favourites them over b biodiversity will create a huge problem out there. So that’s, that’s definitely, you know, there’s definitely something something that’s very important. On the other hand, you know, what’s what’s going on, when you have all these big trucks packed with millions of bees being transported all over the country, they what can happen is actually that there are pathogens that are spilling over from those Pak bees into while the native bees, that’s also an issue that’s called causing while the native bee species disappear. In a study that I came across that was published in January or February of this year year, and covered by National Geographic, it was reported that in the last 10 years 25% of native and wild bee species have not been seen in the last 10 years. And you know, that’s, that’s a huge problem. Because if we just keep going like this, I think we will won’t be needing Elan musk to take us to Mars, because we’ll have the surface referred to really look like Mars. 

13:33 

Thank you for that, that’s going to give people something pleasant to think about for the rest of their day. So, back to Melibio, you guys then you know you took all of this learning you previously worked in a honey company, you took all of this learning and these insights and these kind of surprising research that you found and so on, and decided that how you could help solve that problem is by creating Melly bio. Now many buyers, you said can can create at the molecular level a product which has the look taste, texture, you know, flavor, etc of regular Honey, I’m guessing you can also if you put your mind to it create all kinds of different hundreds as well, like, you know, the more expensive kinds and, and so on. 

How do you think that’s going to help the you know, biodiversity and the kind of ecosystem How is Melih bio going to save bees or save the wild bees that were there before the honeybee started to encroach? 

14:36 

I love your question, Andrew. I’ll start with saying that honey is a much bigger market that people perceive only in the United States. Last year, honey market was estimated to be around $2 billion, where Nielsen reports that honey holding retail was close to a billion dollar and it had a 25 percent increase year over year from 2019. Globally, in 2025, honey will grow from around nine to 10 billion now to 14 to 15. And around 2030 is going to be a $20 billion market. So people are consuming honey, people aren’t consuming honey more and more. And we believe that providing a different way to produce honey, we can take take away the burden of biodiversity because we would actually negate the need for commercial beekeeping means to expand further, we as a company, respect and believe that there are many organic and small beekeepers out there. And that’s actually not the people that should be worried about selling their product, what we are actually after, as we are after providing a solution for large clients that are buying honey in 1000s and 1000s of metric tons, and use it across industries, from food to beverage, cosmetics, and even pharma. So we want to be a solution provider for large industries and supplied them with honey that sustainable in depth can perform the same as honey produced by the bees, but also to cater to plant based communities. 

16:27 

So we’ve heard about how traditional honey bees can impact the wild, the more diverse be an insect community by encroaching on their territory. How are we treating? Maybe there are studies in this maybe there are not? How are we treating honey bees in terms of you know, as creatures themselves. 

16:52 

In my 10 year career in the hunting industry, I met probably more than 1000 beekeepers across 50 countries that I visited, I’ve been to hundreds of bee farms. And I’ve met a lot of specially small beekeepers that really want one to be one to behave to be as gentle as possible. But I must I must say that from the animal welfare perspective, bees are not honeybees are not enjoying being captured in the beehives and being used to produce honey for for us that we harvest because there’s no other rule in beekeeping, that when the crop is over, all of the honey is harvested. And then during winter months, bees are being given a cocktail of sugar and water to survive to the winter months. And to be kind of hungry for when the springtime comes so that they can be unleashed from these beehives and and collect nectar and pollen. So from that perspective, I mean, you know, it’s difficult to say because I again, I think a lot of small beekeepers, they want to be gentle towards the bees. But from the animal welfare perspective, I say that this is not ideal and bees with honey bee is themselves would be much happy if they wouldn’t be packed in tightly and beehives and being kept and exploited for honey production. 

18:23 

In terms of can you repeat the beginning of your question? One more time? I don’t want to I don’t want to miss anything. 

18:33 

Yeah, so I mean, it was basically I’m, you know, we honeybees are encroaching on this on this areas of the kind of more natural or that’s not the right the right word. But you know, the honeybees are encroaching on the territories of the pre existing insects. And so on that were there before that we’re doing the pollination and so on. That’s one thing, but how are we treating honeybees? And I think you’ve actually, I think you’ve actually covered that. What I’d actually like to go into now is Melibio a little bit. Tell us, tell us about you and your co founder. You know, you’ve mentioned a little bit about your background, in terms of your co founder and also, how did you guys come together and decide to do this and watch the last year or two being all about? 

19:27 

Thanks for asking that. I think you know, Melly bio officially started in 2020 on officially ended 2019. But in a way I felt like Valley bio started actually 10 years ago, captaining, you know, the idea was happening. And the passion was being created on two different places. I’m happy to talk about my co founder first because I really love working with Aaron and he is he’s an extraordinary scientist and he’s a very unique A person with a URI unique character because besides being a scientist with experience in lab and research for 10 years now, he is also a passion chef and gardening. And he started noticing bees five years ago when they were visiting his garden, and he started noticing different types of bees. And he was always interested into caring about bees. Myself, I mentioned that I have extensive experience in the hunting industry. I was born in I was born and raised in Eastern Europe, which is a very sound region in Europe for high production. And in 2019, when I decided to change this industry, for better I decided to pack my backpack and fight. Since I realized that I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself and I started visiting meetups in San Francisco and I met Aaron. And when you have two people in San Francisco talking passionately about bees and honey, they better start a company together. So we did that. We started working on Mally bio, in end of 2019. And actually, I’m proud to say that for almost half a year, we were working on Mally bio, and using the savings that we collected, both of us trusting that what we are working on will show progress and trusting that goal and invest investor who would support them, I’m happy to say that that first investor and lead investor who supported us was actually you, Andrew, to any event. So I’m really happy to say that it was only recently only 11 and a half months went by we were kind of very excited. Prove that we have and and a year off that we’ve been winded flock. 

22:15 

So take us through some of the challenges and maybe some of the highlights of the last 12 months. your microphone sort of came in and out a little bit there. I don’t know why hopefully, it’ll stop soon. But take us through some of the highlights and some of the kind of more interesting challenges you’ve had over the last, you know, year or so since you started. 

22:40 

I would say that. It it’s been a lot of questions, you know, starting a startup. It’s by by nature, I think I will switch to my other microphone just to make sure things are better. Give me a second 

22:56 

shot. No, 

23:09 

you’re mute. 

23:13 

You hear me now? 

23:14 

I can hear you now, sir. Please continue. Oh, 

23:20 

starting a startup that is developing something, you know, very challenging and needed. You get to ask your you get to ask many questions every day. So in the last 12 months, we’ve been constantly asking questions and providing answers to our questions. And I’m really happy that in questioning things, we were able to create an environment where we would be where we were clearly seeing our path. And I can start with the business model. You know, when when you start developing something new, you ask yourself, should you start with b to b or b to c or D to C. And we, we realize that since around two thirds of the honey sold and consumed are actually honey built in within other products. You know, we realized that our business model would be B to B to B first. Also from the scientific perspective, we had a couple of ways how to see our scientific progress in scientific and product development. And thanks to big idea ventures and of course, other investors, we were able to decide on the best way how to approach the excel in the last year it was, you know, mostly questions are on business model and r&d. And I’m happy to say that we were able to design our r&d r&d approach to design our go to market strategy to start developing a significant IP portfolio because I think it’s very important for entrepreneurs to learn IP portfolio and building a moat that will help them increase the chances of success and attract investors that appreciate IP leverage. Beyond that, we were happy that we created a lot of buzz. I say that I say that media buzz. 

25:23 

Okay, sorry, 

25:25 

I definitely see that the media is really interested in what we are doing, I’d say pretty much more than the stage that we are currently in and the amount of money that we raised, because we decided to work on something interesting and probably tackle removing probably the last animal from the food supply chain. So basically, the year was, was very fruitful. It started with big idea ventures the program, it was very difficult, I need to say to entrepreneurs out there, you know, going to a very, very extensive but rewarding accelerator program, and at the same time working on your company was very challenging, but it was highly, highly rewarding. And I’m happy to say that we kept that baseline, and we managed to find a way how to quickly ask questions, quickly give responses, and move forward, you know, and I’m happy to say that we’re closing our pre seed round that we announced this week, that one chapter is, is being closed in exactly the next day, we are working, we are putting our minds into our next chapter to developing and getting this product closer to the market and preparing ourselves to raise the seed round. 

26:52 

So you mentioned in the last few days, that you guys have closed your pre seed, I think you raised you know, 800 to a million dollars I hit the article said online. Now you’ve said the next day it’s, you know, next stage of the business. What about b to b customers, interested parties, it’s a multi billion dollar industry. It’s not just, you know, a product that gets put on the shelf next to the jam. It’s a sweetener. It’s used in skincare. It’s used in shampoos, it’s used in a whole range of different you know, lip balms, it’s in a whole range of products. Do you have companies that are interested in in, in trying your your product and potentially bring it into their portfolio as either an ingredient or as a part of a part of a product? 

27:48 

We are Andrew indirectly in $100 billion sugars and sweeteners industry. So industry is an amazing potential for Melly bio, and takes to the approach. And Ito’s created, Why be the Avengers where from day one, we were taught to think about our customers. And not to be you know, a startup in a lab or in a garage working on something cool and you know, waiting for years to get out of the garage. So from day one, you helped us to talk to many companies out there are interested in what we are doing. And that resulted in 16 companies signing letters of intent to purchase our plant based on E as an Indian person. We are so happy to see that. Even that we are in the pre seed stage of customers that we have business perspective. And I’m really 

28:50 

so 1616 one six right ello eyes. I’m guessing these are not little tiny companies in San Francisco. They’re actually you know, either national or international companies that are exploring your product. 

29:06 

We have 15 companies from the United States of America of various size from CPG startups that are looking into entering plant based space and wanting honey that’s plant based, moving to mid sized companies and also large corporations. I’m proud to say that we were able to conclude an Li and sign Li last week one of the biggest Japanese food Corporation, they have. They have more than $3 billion in revenue and they don’t only cover Japan, they have operations in Asia and North America as well. So it’s it’s really exciting. I’m also not sharing now because I cannot but we have a couple of conversations with the biggest companies in there. In industries that are actually very big consumers and purchasers of honey. And we hope that in the next couple of months, we’ll have some great news to announce in terms of some major partnerships. We, as a company, want to be out there for companies of different size, being able to solve some of the problems that are specific in the industry. We talked a lot about bees and sustainability angle. But I don’t want to miss a chance to talk about the broken supply chain that we are fixing the inefficiency of honey harvesting wood champions only within a couple of weeks within a year, while smelly, biochar can produce honey all year round, and not depending on the weather conditions that specifically in the honey crop, in 2019, in Europe, where, because of the pandemic and disaster weather in Maine and June, have honey honey yields, and that resulted in higher prices, probably only one. So we believe that science and technology can actually bring exceed terms of the price that people expect and remove volatility. Volatility actually is funny to match their work is the one that we want to merge as much as providing our clients Steve price. Got it. 

31:48 

So as you say that the honey industry relies upon tiny little insects doing what they need to do in a short period of time on an annual basis, any shocks to the system, whether it’s in terms of them, doing what they need to do, but also in terms of the supply chain of multiple farmers and so on bringing these little you know, bringing the in the creation back through through the supply chain. So it could be Can, can be collected, your technology allows the production of this all year round in large volume with the same product effectively at the kind of microbial level down to the smallest, you know, degree. totally understand that. One of the other things is it’s it’s it should be considered vegan, I would guess so. Because you don’t use, you know, animals or insects or honeybees to produce it. And if there are companies out there in the plant based category who are wanting to produce, I don’t know honey sources, you know, honey based sources, or honey based dressings, or whatever, that are actually for the first time ever truly vegan, this is a product they can use to do that, right. So you’re sort of unlocking a number of different things. In the product category. 

33:11 

Our product is fully vegan, it doesn’t involve any bees in the production of bees or harm. So I’m really excited that we can definitely support companies out there that want to cater to plant based community, I believe that plant based is here. It’s big, it’s here to stay and evolve. And I don’t see any small or medium size or big company that is either isn’t already in the plan base base or doesn’t have a plan to join in this or next year. 

33:48 

And what are your what kind of help do you need to make Melly bio a, you know, global successful business having a positive impact? What kind of support and help do you think you need you and Aaron over the next 12 months, two years, three years? What kind of, you know, how can people contribute in some way to doing what you’re doing, whether it’s individuals or corporations or investors. 

34:17 

We are creating a big story. So I believe that all the big stories are created by amazing people. So I would say in the next 12 months, what I wish for Melibio, is that we cross that with amazing people that will join our team amazing scientists out there that are listening to this watching or reading and that have the same obsession with honey and bees like we do. We want to hear their personal stories related to honey and related to bees. We also want to cross paths with amazing investors who appreciate the existence of bees all the 20,000 plus natively species, and to see the value of, you know, helping a species while also changing, as I mentioned, $100 billion, larger industry. So that’s what I really wish for. Because I believe that we are living in an independent world, we, as being a team in the San Francisco Bay Area, we definitely have access to a lot of resources out there. And I really want us to attract the best people, the best employees, and the best investors that we can really talk to, because it wasn’t, it wasn’t very long ago, until we were much smaller than we are today. And being able to, you know, Friday afternoon, pick up the phone and call new Andrew or Abby or anyone from Big Idea Ventures team and get the perspective or know like, just get, you know, kind words, to help us guide through a problem, you know, that doesn’t have a price tag on it, I really hope that has growing and attracting more investors, that will be really fortunate with attracting the best people out there. Help us guide navigate the space and help us build a billion dollar company, because we believe getting to a billion dollar company, we will actually make a significant impact in helping to see biodiversity. Well, 

36:33 

you’ve got my cell phone number, you know, you can always call me whenever you want to. So that’s that’s always that channel is always available to you, as well, as I’m sure Abby and me are and Tom and the other members of the team. So corporations, how can the food industry get behind what Melibio is doing? What kind of either partnerships, relationships, you know, collaborations, how are you seeing the food industry potentially being relevant to what you’re trying to accomplish? 

37:07 

We want to be the solution provider for what our clients need. We are startup in pre seed stage, but leveraging, first of all my industry experience, we can really move quickly. Meaning that after introduction calls on our second cause, we get connected with the R&D teams of bigger companies. And we can easily figure out what is that they consider is honey for themselves. Because honey, there are like 320 main varieties of honey, it in the same honey that companies use in cosmetics and beverage. So we easily figure out what what’s the case study. And we work together with their team in providing what is our solution to them. And then after making an agreement, we can lay down the plan for scaling and production. From from last month, we scale our r&d team to five people now that are helping us to scale our production. And I really invite all these companies out there that are using honey, to get in touch with us to share their honey story. And we will be really, we will be able to get back to them with our solution for how they could replace the honey they currently use with our honey. And I say we bring all the safety out there, we can start with limited products with limited volume with limited launch for them to see how we perform. And as time goes, we can definitely scale that to most or entire portfolio. 

38:58 

So in terms of scaling now, are you looking for or have you found a production partner who can help you scale this either nationally or internationally? And if you haven’t, and I don’t I actually don’t know the answer to this question. So I should probably have, I should probably know the answer before I ask it. But if you haven’t found a country, a production partner who can help work with you to get make this a global entity and enterprise. What does that partner look like? 

39:36 

It’s a great question, Andrew. We are having currently a partner that can help us scale with the soft launch that we are planning for that will be happening as of this year. But in terms of global scales, we are definitely interested into having conversations with large companies that can offer a global infrastructure, their benefits In having productive production potential, not only in the US, but in other countries, and we are looking into, like our ideal partners would be companies that are looking how to leverage their infrastructure in bio fermentation, but are potentially coming from other products that are not necessarily close to money, that case we and then have the safety that we can collaborate using their infrastructure, but you know, being able to be really close enough, because the products are completely different. And, you know, I see, you know, I’m really happy about that potential utilization of resources that were once built for some other products, and now can actually be used for kind of upcycled to help startups to launch their products in front of those companies in startups being safe with each other in working together, because they’re not competing. 

41:01 

So is this you mentioned fermentation? Are these potential partners likely to come from the beer industry or from other industries that are leveraging fermentation that have, you know, deep x x expertise in this area in that area? 

41:17 

Yeah, beer industry is one of the examples definitely, I would not stop there. Whenever there, whenever there are bio reactors and bio fermentation, we can look into different ways how we can collaborate together. For us, it’s really important that on the other side, we have an honest partner who is willing to, you know, offer their infrastructure and make us safe, as really early stage startup and work with a giant now, because sometimes, the way how big companies work and operate, it’s not the details that startup founders are kind of very safe and excited about. So I hope that, you know, Big iIdea Ventures is actually I see one of the biggest roles in bigger ventures besides investing. And besides running the accelerator program, if you can actually facilitate conversations and translate the language of startups to corporations, and vice versa. I get 

42:17 

that. But I mean, 

42:19 

you 

42:21 

I think you have the capability of having those conversations yourself, you’re from the you know, you’ve you’ve come from the honey industry, you’ve got a decade experience in it, you’re a business person. I, you know, I think you have full capability of communicating, you keep talking, for example, about you guys being a seed stage company. And I think that label is, it means different things to different people from what I understand of your business. And you know, you and I have been working on it for quite some time. Now. You guys have the know how. And you can bring that know how to a larger organization that has the infrastructure and experience around for example, fermentation, for whatever reason, they have that experience, bringing those two sets together, you could you guys could create a pretty significant and phenomenal you know, sweetener business that has the ability to upset the, you know, the honey industry, and the multiple industries, it’s a part of when you talk about seed stage company makes me nervous that people are gonna listen to this and think of, you know, two guys in a in a shed, maybe you started off as two guys in a shed, but you know, you’re a team, you’ve been working on this for some time, your proof of concept is actually quite distant in your rearview mirror. And you guys are increasingly moving towards how do we scale this thing? And how do we make this this product A at least at a national product, and potentially not, you know, not too long from now, an international product. 

43:58 

I definitely agree with you. And your labeling might be very, you know, inappropriate in some in some conditions and one size doesn’t fit all and doesn’t fit everyone. We are definitely interested into moving things forward quickly. In our strategy to become a billion dollar company with an influence I definitely say loud and clear that we don’t see any value in building you know, some facilities buying some plots somewhere building facilities and investing in bio reactors. If there are a bunch of you know, a bunch of plants in the United States or globally that could be you know, utilized for that. So we want to scale and grow providing our expertise in this industry. I co founder is has designed something that’s really proprietary, something that could even move beyond honey myself. I’ve been I’ve worked with the largest honey and largest food companies in the world. And with the right partner, we can actually take things forward much quickly and other startups that share the same label of receipt or seed each day. 

45:15 

So give me a give me a prediction. Now how long will it be until Melibio ingredient, honey is either in inner product on the shelf that people can go into a regular grocery store and purchase or even how long until Melibio is in a jar on a shelf next to the jam, next to the, you know, next to the regular honey is the first vegan honey ever created. 

45:43 

I believe that my co founder, who is he always, 

45:48 

he always tells you to not give me a day. Come on, give me a give me a prediction. Give me a you know, is it this century? No, I’m just kidding. 

45:57 

I’m definitely going to give you a prediction. But I just want to make an introduction. Because you would you would appreciate our funny moments from the accelerated program and you know, talking about deadlines and moving things forward as quickly as possible. But I can say with certainty that people will in the United States will start consuming Melibio this year, they will they will consume products that contain Melly bio as a product. So this is happening this year. We are looking for that to happen. And q3. If we miss a little bit, it will be definitely Q4 this year. In terms of like, bigger scale 2022 will be our year. We were on we were pitching to one of the biggest companies in the world. Last week, I was pitching to the entire board of directors. And I made a bold promise being measured in in, in I’d say a couple of hundreds of metric tons for us to be able to deliver next year. So that will be kind of a bigger, bigger market penetration. In terms of projecting if and when we’ll be having our standalone, standalone brand and putting it on a shelf. It’s hard to say because there are many benefits of us going out there with our own brand. But also there is impact that we have in the first place. And we believe that you know offering a chance for these large purchasers of honey to replace bulk orders with honey, a bulk orders of honey with Meibio honey that the impact is being created much more quickly. But say that we leave our doors open. Also to have our standalone brands. And I’m thinking about premium honey is there. You mentioned that there are different varieties of honey, some of them can cost around $100 per pound. And I definitely see interesting opportunity. And Mally bio purchasing Emily by pursuing that route one day, but I want to give you a timeline for that on this podcast. 

48:18 

Okay, I think that’s a great kind of way to start wrapping up the the podcast the fact that 100 I think you said 100 times or did you say What? 100 

48:29 

times next year? I say I said hundreds, 

48:32 

hundreds of times many by next year as an ingredient. I love the sound of that and where can people reach out to you if they’re interested in you know, what you’re doing learning about the technology? And also if they’re either companies that might want to partner with you, or investors that might want to talk to you about getting involved before you guys are going to be crazy expensive from a valuation perspective. Where do where do people find out about Darko mandat and Melibio, and the rest of the team. 

49:05 

People find us, I believe everywhere, but the best way how to connect is maybe either through LinkedIn or maybe by reaching out our email, which is buzz@melibio.com buzz like be you and apples there at Melly bio.com and we are really happy to take how we like to say honey calls, should there be from investor perspective or from from a client perspective. And, again, I also want to emphasize that all the people out there that have connection with honey that could either potentially collaborate with us in any capacity in future feel free to reach out because again, we believe that the biggest stories out there are being created by a team of amazing people that are passionate and driven and I Doing something beyond the regular expectations of having a great job and building a company, but actually saving this world. And, and also, you know, making it a better place while also making money, which is, I’d say, the very beauty of capitalism that we should nourish and that we should build build upon in the future. 

50:23 

It’s kind of ironic that the millions and millions of tons of honey that gets created on an annual basis are created by the smallest possible, you know, the tiniest one of the tiniest little creatures. And likewise, if somebody listens to this and just forwards, your name and your web address to a friend or to a friend of a friend by email or Twitter or LinkedIn, that little impact could ultimately end up having a big impact on you guys as an introduce you to somebody that’s critical or important for your business. So I totally get it. So in terms of reaching out to mellie bio you mentioned it’s bu, zz, you said Zed, Zed, but you know you’re a European you get you get to speak like that. Bu zz at Melly bio m e li, bio bi o.com. We’ll also put the contact details for the web address, which is Melly, bio.com, social media, Instagram, LinkedIn, all those wonderful places in the bottom of the podcast, YouTube, etc. So if anyone needs to get hold of Darko, which I think is just the coolest name in the world, I’ve got to have a character in one of my books called Darko at some point. Yeah, if anyone needs to reach out to Darko they can do so via the links below. What else we want to say Darko before we head off and let you go and build build an amazing business in the honey space. Andrew, I 

51:53 

definitely hope that that character, your work will do something good for the world, in any any any capacity, or other worlds. Let’s see, I want to my closing remark remarks is that I want to send a message out there to other entrepreneurs. And I want to take all of thank all of them doing something amazing and great, and changing the food industry. Because I definitely believe that beyond elections that we definitely will everyday three or five times and that our votes, the end, and the ballots that we cast are kind of the bytes that we are taking. And I’m really grateful to all the amazing entrepreneurs working on producing different animal products without animals, and working together in building a future that’s better. And that future is powered by amazing investors who are mission driven and who see beyond beyond the capital who see the profits in doing good. And I hope that becomes a nietos of, of the majority, if not the entire investor space out there. 

53:07 

Great point. If you’re a consumer, every time you buy something, you’re voting on the company, not just the product that you’re buying, but you’re voting on the company that’s producing it. So you know, it’s up to you to vote for the right companies and not the wrong ones because that’s the kind of planet we’re going to end up living in over the next decade, two decades. And more. So Darko, Melibio, thank you for your time today. I appreciate everything that you do. I’m so glad I invested in you guys. It’s, it’s gonna be something I’m gonna tell my kids about. Or actually, I already do tell my kids about it. So I don’t even know why I say that like that. My daughter My daughter knows all about you’re ready. So anyway, thanks for everything. Thanks for everyone listening. Appreciate your time. Thanks for listening to the Big Idea Food Podcast. I really appreciate you. Please do subscribe, then you’ll get notifications of the next podcast. If you have any questions or comments, please do reach out. We can also be found by a big idea ventures.com and through Instagram, LinkedIn, all of those wonderful places. So enjoyed the conversation today. I hope you did too. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye 

 

© Big Idea Ventures LLC 2021

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