Big Idea Ventures has launched 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 and talk about the exciting projects they are a part of.
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Andrew D Ive 00:00
Welcome to the Big Idea podcast where we focus on food. Today we’re going to be talking to Stephanie Michelson from Jellatech. So Jellatech, an amazing company based in North Carolina, focused on creating cell-based collagen, a key ingredient in many, many things and also a key ingredient in lots of different industries, lots of different categories.
Andrew D Ive 00:26
So, my name is Andrew, I’m the moderator, discussion person for this podcast. I’m also the founder of Big Idea Ventures. So let’s get into the conversation. Love to get your comments and feedback at the end via any of the platforms where this is hosted. Thanks very much. Let’s get into the podcast. Fantastic, Stephanie. Welcome to the Big Idea podcast Stephanie Mickelson, What do you say?
Stephanie Michelsen 01:03
I usually go by Michaelson but I think that makes it difficult to spell sometimes. So I think Mickelson is a safe choice to pronounce that to get the right spelling.
Andrew D Ive 01:12
Okay, so Stephanie, Michelson from Jellatech drumroll. Very excited about Jellatech. I’ve known you guys since minus day one, I guess. Let’s tell everybody, let’s tell everybody what Stephanie does and what Jellatech does.
Stephanie Michelsen 01:33
Yeah, so I’m the founder and CEO of Jellatech and we are the world’s first cell based collagen and gelatin ingredient company. What that means is basically we grow cells in the lab, and then we isolate real collagen from those cells to make it more sustainable, ethical and cleaner collagen versus taking it from an animal. So that’s super short, kind of like what we do and we’ve been doing it for almost two years now.
Andrew D Ive 02:00
That is going to be the simplest explanation anybody in the cell based industry has ever given. So let’s let’s just sort of dive into some different pieces of those very, very brief sentences. Collagen gelatin, yeah. What is it? What does it do? Why is it important? Who cares?
Stephanie Michelsen 02:23
Yeah, so I gelatin is a derivative collagen, meaning that collagen is a starting point of gelatin. So you can process collagen into gelatin and I think gelatin people are probably most familiar with in things like gummy bears, or maybe like jello shots or if you are a Hobby Baker, you might use it for somebody who confectionary creations but it’s also found in things like in processes like clarification of wine and beer. Collagen is widely used in biomedical applications so like coatings of implants or injectables, you also have collagen in the cosmetic space.
Stephanie Michelsen 03:00
So you’ve probably seen some collagen and skin cream and then also in materials, you might have gelatin in things like photography, film. So it’s actually a protein that’s used in a wide array of applications and processes and many different kinds of industries. And it’s something you definitely probably have in your cupboard somewhere without even knowing it. It might also be like encapsulations, you know, like capsules for like painkillers or other kind of vitamins or something like that. So it’s really, really widely used. It’s a very diverse protein and currently, the only way we get it is by slaughtering animals.
Andrew D Ive 03:39
And that was going to be my point or follow up question, take us through how the traditional gelatin collagen industry create their product, how are they doing it today?
Stephanie Michelsen 03:56
Yeah, so I think, you know, looking at animal agriculture in general, I think a lot of these ingredients and products we have are because you don’t want to waste any part of the animal, you want to maximize profit, right. And so collagen is actually harvestedn from basically all the kind of inedible parts and pieces of the animal that you don’t use. So that’s things like tendons, bones, hooves, skin, all these kind of really like tough tissues that you don’t want to eat a tendon or something like that, like that’s not very easy to to chew. And so all those pieces that don’t turn into meat actually gets transported to a collegen or gelatin plant where it goes through an extensive process of like high temperatures and acid.
Stephanie Michelsen 04:42
And then it basically gets broken down to almost like a gloop or soup or something like that. And then eventually it is purified and then you end up with collagen. You end up with collagen peptides and you can also process the collagen into a gelatin And actually, if you try to Google videos on how it’s made, you’re probably not going to find that because it’s very hard to see, it’s a very nasty process. And that, again, comes from all of the things we can’t and don’t want to eat from the animal.
Andrew D Ive 05:15
Got it. So a multi step process. Some of those steps include heat, acid basically breaking down all of the bits and pieces that are considered inedible and ultimately creating a gelatin out of that. Okay, Amazing. So now let’s kind of parallel that with what you guys are doing. You are creating the same collagen gelatin as traditional or is it slightly different in some way? Is it exactly the same? What’s the deal?
Stephanie Michelsen 05:54
So I mentioned before that collagen is basically the starting point for collagen peptides and gelatin. Right? So we started out on this mission by kind of looking at animal agriculture. And you know, I think the all protein space like everything is moving. So far, we have great alternative to a lot of like meat or eggs and stuff like that. But gelatin and collagen is such a complex protein That’s insanely difficult to kind of mimic outside of animals outside of humans, right? So we said, Okay, can we make that same collagen starting point in a way that doesn’t rely on the slaughtering of animals. And that’s what we set out to do.
Stephanie Michelsen 06:27
And so how we do it is similar to what would happen inside our bodies or a cow’s body, like they’re cells that make collagen, they make it and they basically secreted or kind of shoot it outside the cell, it’s a protein that helps give us kind of rigid structures. So it’s all around and in between our cells to create tissues, make them sturdy. And so we’re kind of mimicking that exact same process. But rather than happening in an animal, it happens in a lab and like a little vessel under a sterile environment. And so we only grow the cells that we need, and we make them even better and making collegen and then what they would do in an animal. And so this way, we can actually make, you know, continuous supply of collagen, and from cells that are from animals.
Stephanie Michelsen 07:13
And in fact, you know, more recently, we have some really, really exciting data from the lab and from our research showing that our collagen is indeed, exactly the same as what you get from an animal because the process is very similar to same cells, we just make them better and quicker at doing what they do really well. And again, in a sterile environment that doesn’t actually rely on slaughtering animals, but it’s grown in the lab. But on the cellular level, it’s pretty much the same process that happens.
Andrew D Ive 07:41
So basically a bio identical output. So the output is identical to what is traditionally considered traditional gelatin collagen. But not through the multistep acid etc, etc. Not derived from the kind of more challenging aspects of the animal though the stuff you don’t you don’t want you still have to get that first sale from an animal though, right, obviously. Okay. There are other companies trying this. They’ve traditionally done it outside, if I’m correct, outside of the cell, kind of replicate, you know, the cell growing side of things. What are those other folks using to try and get to the same place?
Stephanie Michelsen 08:36
Yeah, so there’s other companies out there that you know, realize the same potential of making animal free collagen. And traditionally, what I’ve seen so far is more kind of in the plant or fermentation space, meaning you’d engineer plant to make collagen proteins or peptides, or you engineer some kind of microbe, whether that’s a bacteria or yeast, and again, inserting these kind of collagen genes, and then making part of this protein and then you kind of have to purify it. The challenge with that, though, is that I mentioned before the collagen is uniquely found in the animal kingdom. So it’s actually something that’s only us, you know, humans and animals have, and it’s not found in bacteria, because they’re single celled organisms, we need tissue, we need structure. So we’re multicellular, right? So it’s a very unique protein. And so what they’re doing they actually have to genetically engineered and insert, you know, novel or new or foreign genes into it.
Stephanie Michelsen 09:31
But the challenge more so is that what you end up with there is not the full kind of bioidentical full length native collagen starting point, you might end up with something like a little collagen peptides, which means you can’t really process it into gelatin and you can’t really use it for the same universal applications. And you can if you have the real deal, you know, starting point of collagen, and so that’s what we’re making, that’s why we use cells. So to give an example, if we’re producing bovine collagen we use bovine skin cells, if we want to do horse we would use horse cells, human human cells. So it’s it becomes as close to the real deal and naturally kind of occurring protein but just made in a much more efficient and clean and sustainable way.
Andrew D Ive 10:17
So the other guys are using single cell processes to try and and then re engineering those single, I’m just kind of clarifying if I’m hearing this, right? They’re reengineering single cell, single cells using a single cell growing process to try and create a multi cell output. Yes, and it can’t work on it.
Stephanie Michelsen 10:45
I mean, yeah, so I will say that plants are also, you know, multi multi cell so that gets closer. but the challenge here is that it’s basically like trying to put something really foreign and unknown into this organism at the same time collegen, and it’s a huge complex protein. So it’s really, really large, its triple helical, meaning that it has kind of three peptides coming together, you know, to make this kind of, like, I guess, string of you know, peptides and then more students come together forming collagen fibrils. And so you just don’t get that kind of short strands.
Stephanie Michelsen 11:18
And so I made a comparison the other day, who basically said collagen is almost like a spaghetti. And if you use like a microorganism, you might get like little pieces of the spaghetti straw, right, you can never go back to the full thing, like because it’s already broken into pieces. But with us, we have the real deal. And you can have multiple spaghetti strings come together to make really rigid kind of structural properties. And you can turn it into gelatin by processing it. And so yeah, it just doesn’t give the same end product, which means you just can’t really use it for the same applications.
Stephanie Michelsen 11:47
And there are definitely awesome opportunities still, you know, within like cosmetics, or like a supplements and food, but we really wanted to target, you know, to be able to fully replace animal farming, and to do so we’re like, we need the real deal. Because we need to be able to have Haribo Gummy bears or things like that. And, you know, biomed applications, there’s so many opportunities, but you also need to be able to fully replace and make the real deal in order to make that kind of transition.
Andrew D Ive 12:15
So your technology allows you to create the full, complete real deal, gelatin collagen, it’s not a piece of or a little aspect of it, is the whole complete thing. And Jellatech is, or was the first company to use this kind of technology to deliver that kind of complete solution.
Stephanie Michelsen 12:37
Right, exactly. That’s correct.
Andrew D Ive 12:39
Perfect. So let’s, let’s say one, one last thing on that whole piece. The regulatory environment today that controls what can and cannot be used in the food space, has already obviously signed off on traditional gelatin, collagen, the way of sort of breaking it down using acid etc, a multi step process, animal byproducts, so on, it’s been, you know, that’s been signed off decades of time ago, despite the fact that your system is producing bio identical products, and is also in a very clean, sterile environment doesn’t involve the kind of goups and kind of less appetizing aspects of that product isn’t approved, right. So despite the fact that it actually sounds like a lot more pleasant process than the traditional, isn’t currently approved, right?
Stephanie Michelsen 13:43
Yeah, that’s correct. I mean, we still, you know, waiting, I guess, in different countries, right is different regulatory kind of organization. So we’re still waiting for that on like, the cell base space, but as you said, it’s a great thing that collagen and gelatin has been consumed for such a long time that if we can show bioidentical, which we have, then it is the same thing, you know that it’s safe. And we do use a similar processes that you get from conventional collagen and delta manufacturing, except we do, you know, much lighter and much more efficient. And then on top of that, we have kind of an advantage that in our process, you’re actually not consuming cells, you’re just consuming a protein that the cells make that is secreted outside of the cells. So we’re able to separate, you know, the collagen from the cells and the media, which is really, really great news for us, in terms of regulatory might give us some kind of, you know, fast tracking loopholes that we can go through because of that.
Andrew D Ive 14:37
How long do you think I mean, are you thinking of that in terms of, of years, or months, or
Stephanie Michelsen 14:45
It probably will take a few years. The good thing for us again, is that we actually can target a few kind of different markets or industries. So very similar cosmetics and personal care that’s like more loosely regulated. So if we can just show that what we’re making is, you know, safe and identical to what you get normally, from an animal than likely, you know, there’s not that much more regulatory to go through for food, there’s a bit more and then biomedical, of course, a little bit more, because you might use it, you know, inside a human body or something like that. But I’m, you know, I think, you know, in a few years, it will definitely be and I think for us, you know, the main thing that we have to do is scale it. And then the regulatory will definitely come because it has to, and, you know, already, we’re seeing the other country for people actually consuming, you know, cell derived or cell base or cultivated ingredients. And so yeah, I’m just very excited to see it happen sooner rather than later, for sure.
Andrew D Ive 15:37
So I’m remembering when we first started speaking, I was sitting in a car, I was on the Jersey Shore, which sounds like a bad TV show. I was on the Jersey Shore, having a phone call with you and Ryan Bethancourt and you, I think you’d just finished working at Wild Earth. And you’d been sort of working very, very closely with Brian on that. And we were sort of talking about, oh, there’s this kind of big opportunity, and no one’s doing it. And it’s huge. And it’s really necessary. And it’s really important. And, you know, there’s this other company that’s using fermentation, that’s not really working very well. And, you know, we need to try a new approach. That was you. That was, you know, just three of us chatting. Yeah. Tell us where we where you are now, tell us, you know, how many team members you have, how it’s going what the company looks like today? And I think from that time, you’ve also raised? Well, I know you have I’m pretending I don’t know about. You know, since that time, you’ve you know, you found some great investors, who have been incredibly supportive of what Jellatech is bringing to the world. Tell us about the team, where you’re at. You moved from California to North Carolina?
Stephanie Michelsen 17:07
Andrew D Ive 17:08
That’s a big shift. So yeah, tell us, tell us where you are now.
Stephanie Michelsen 17:13
Yeah. So I mean, I also remember our first conversations, I remember being very, very nervous to, to kind of talk but also super, super excited. And it’s crazy looking back. So that was about two years ago, or so that we kind of started this big opportunity and that no one was doing it. And we had a really great or unique approach to it. Right. And so, today, we are six full time and three part time, which is awesome. We have our own lab space here in the triangle in North Carolina.
Stephanie Michelsen 17:40
I did indeed move from California and the reason I moved was because you get longer run, we’re here, it’s a really great biotech hub and future food tech hub as well. And yeah, like I said, you get longer run when there’s great talent. So I was kind of already jumping into entrepreneurship. I was like, I might as well jump in the deep end even further, and move across the country. But I’m really happy that I did. And you know, now, I mean, we have such an amazing team. And we have also raised money, of course. So to date, we raised about 2.9. And total and you know, big idea ventures was our first investor, which is awesome, helped us get started.
Stephanie Michelsen 18:18
But it’s definitely been a journey, but something I would encourage anyone to pursue if you have a good idea. Definitely, you know, just go for it. Because it’s just such an amazing learning experience. It’s challenging, it’s tough, but it’s also really, really great. And, you know, we’re still going strong and now seeing collagen in the lab that didn’t come from a slaughtered animal. I mean, that’s huge, right? So we know we’re on the right path. And now it’s just scaling left. But yeah, so that’s kind of like where we are right now. And we’re just about to get into our, our seed round of, you know, fundraising. So that’ll be very exciting to get things moving quicker and larger scales and hire some more people on the team.
Andrew D Ive 18:58
I love wandering around your lab because you always have these amazing puppy dogs and there’s like bees running around everywhere, you’re nice and stretching and attacking the employees. It’s incredible.
Stephanie Michelsen 19:15
Yeah, there are little mascots. We like we’re a dog friendly office.
Andrew D Ive 19:19
So it’s a very friendly office for sure. Yes. So sounds like, from a regulatory perspective, it’s going to take a little time. But as you just said, You’ve got real collagen being made in the lab. Is it you know, I’m guessing you put it under a microscope, is it identical to the real McCoy, I mean, the you know, traditional product?
Stephanie Michelsen 19:46
Yeah, it is. So we’ve looked at it from a couple of different angles initially, there are some different assets you can do to like basically stain only collagen or it’s supposed to. So we’ve looked at those that we saw was staining it. Then we moved on to kind of the protein structure, you know, to make sure it has structurally the same components. I mentioned, it was a triple helical. So there’s a couple of different components in there. It did that. And then we were Okay, next step is kind of Functionality wise, does it gel like it’s supposed to, and can you actually see collagen fibrils in the microscope, which is amazing. And, you know, that’s what makes collagen such an awesome protein. So we see that, and then on top of that collagen is very unique that it has a lot of hydroxyproline which is one of these kinds of modifications that only kind of these complex multicellular organisms can do. And it does indeed have hydroxyproline. So we’ve kind of looked at it from a lot different angles, tested it, and everything is ticking the boxes, you know, being a bioidentical Real Deal collagen. So our theory of using cell AG, it has proven to be exactly the way to go. So that’s really, really exciting.
Andrew D Ive 20:54
So 12 to 18 months ago, it was proof of concept. Now, it’s real product bioidentical. Like, full on, you can do it, you’ve done it,
Stephanie Michelsen 21:08
Exactly done it multiple times, multiple times.
Andrew D Ive 21:11
So what is the next stage of the business? Is it figuring out how to scale it? Is it figuring out in parallel how to get the regulatory environment to kind of catch up with what’s happening in the real world? I mean, I would recommend anyone on the regulatory side to take a really strong look at this, because, otherwise, this technology is gonna go elsewhere. I’m not saying you are but, there’s enough cell based companies in the US right now, who are getting frustrated with the fact that it’s going to take two, three years before they can actually do anything significant with their business. A lot of them, are taking a good hard look at Singapore and other places as a start point for a real business in this space.
Stephanie Michelsen 22:05
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, definitely, like you said, doing things in parallel. So we’ve proven we can do it, we have done it, you know, multiple times. So we have a few different species we’re working on. So primarily bovine porcelain and human. So we want to expand on that, we want to scale it up. So make even larger volumes, we want to further optimize the amount of cells that we make, we want to continue to bring down the cost and make it more efficient, and then bring on more people, getb a bigger space for us as to grow into, and certainly begin more serious conversations with the regulatory organizations, and to better understand and, and help move the whole industry forward.
Stephanie Michelsen 22:44
Perfect. So when I was gonna say, What’s next, but you’ve sort of outlined, you’ve kind of outline that. Do you? I mean, do you see corporates, companies, etc, being now involved in the sort of next stage of where you’re taking the company? You mentioned samples? Are those samples going out to would be potential partners? Or is it more around investors? Or, you know, where are those samples? Obviously, don’t tell us the names of the folks, it’s probably will be private, but what are you using their samples for? And is that kind of what’s happening next for the business?
Stephanie Michelsen 22:44
I mean, it’s a team effort, as well. And so I think the more kind of companies are in the space, things are bound to move quicker. And it’s really what’s next is all about scaling and getting it out there and kind of samples and, you know, continuously getting smarter as well ourselves about what we’re doing and what it’s looking like, and the protein itself, because that’s also something we’ve continued to learn. It’s like, you know, you learn new methods, and you’ll learn more about it, and you get the feedback and kind of see, is it something we can improve is great, but so far, you know, it’s thumbs up. And so she’s been continuously doing it larger, larger scales, and more efficiently and cheaper as well.
Stephanie Michelsen 24:05
It’s definitely what’s happening next. So ever since we announced to the world, a year and a half ago, what we’re doing, we received a tremendous amount of interest. it was just incoming straffic, which was amazing. And at first, I think we’re just like, Oh, my God, all these companies and all these people want to work with us, it’s great. But we’ve narrowed it down to the partners we think will help us get to scale quicker and get to market quicker. And so that’s kind of what we’re prioritized. Certainly we continue to have interest from these big global companies that have a lot of pressure and are stressed to find alternatives.
Stephanie Michelsen 24:50
There’s a growing population and limited resources, right, so we have to find new ways. There’s pandemics and others seems like we need animal welfare as well, right? Like, we can’t continue to do like this. It just doesn’t work. So we have sort of a luxury problem where we have a lot more demand than what we can supply currently. But that’s gonna change as we scale. We have our first several going out in a week, actually. So that’s super, super exciting. And you know, a lot of these are on board with it. They’re believers they’re supporters and cheerleaders and what we do, and they just can’t wait till we get to scale and can offer them, you know, kilograms and tons of this.
Andrew D Ive 25:32
So in terms of the category itself, collagen, I keep saying collagen gelatin, because I forgot, which is the primary and which is the secondary. What’s the primary collagen? Collagen? So the collagen space itself? Yeah, is that a 1 billion, 5 billion 10 billion? Like, what? What is the size of that marketplace globally at this point,
Stephanie Michelsen 25:56
So at this point, it’s about 8.4 billion, but it’s continuously growing. So I mentioned that there’s a growing demand, I think, people probably also see even more collagen in smoothies, and supplements, in the skincare, it is a really amazing protein, and you’re seeing it probably more and more on the shelves, which means that number is only increasing, when at the same time, you know, it’s different getting more and more difficult to actually source the raw materials. So we have a lot of companies looking for us. So that kind of sustainable, like, future production of codons gonna be there, because you can do it, you can decentralize that, you could do it on demand, whereas animal agriculture currently, you know, you’re kind of limited. But yeah, I mean, it’s a growing market but it’s also huge, and there’s definitely room for some innovation, because it hasn’t really changed since like, its invention, you know, we’ve been getting called in the same way for many years. And now we have a new alternative that’s much better and cleaner. So I definitely think that it’s going to continue to grow.
Andrew D Ive 26:59
So there’s kind of multiple angles to this, right? One is it’s a protein, which traditionally used as a multi step convoluted.
Stephanie Michelsen 27:12
Andrew D Ive 27:13
I don’t mean dirty in a negative way, where I kind of do, but it’s a process which is multi step expensive, etc. Now, it’s cheap.
Stephanie Michelsen 27:23
Andrew D Ive 27:23
Because they’ve used a byproduct, which is cheap, because they’ve got it to such a scale right now. It’s just huge, right? It’s an enormous enterprise. You guys have a far simpler, far cleaner, at an absolutely sustainable approach to growing this. How long in your mind will it take you guys at Jellatech, the first movers to get to a point where the product that you produce is, at a price point that is achievable, or at least in the ballpark of where it needs to be, to be comparable with the traditional?
Andrew D Ive 28:09
And I’ve got a kind of Part B question. I’m only gonna ask it because I don’t want to have an old person moment where I forget what the Part B question point was, are you able to because you’re using a different technology and approach, be able to dial in specific characteristics or benefits of the end product, which allow you to make it more tailored, or more perfect for specific use cases, or isn’t very much a it’s exactly the same as the original and we can’t really do much with it. So can we go to the park park? A park? First, which is, your step is is not multi process, not dirt, far more sustainable? Doesn’t, you know, doesn’t require acid and heat and all these other things you would have thought it could be it would have been cheaper, but obviously you don’t have to scale? How, how long do you think it will take you guys to get to something that’s within the economic ballpark of the traditional industry.
Stephanie Michelsen 29:10
So for collagen it varies, the price really depends on the source, the quality and the application. So if you’re using it for high quality Collagen for biomed, you have a really, really high price point. And so that we can certainly reach I think within two or three years, and then after that you kind of have the cosmetics and personal care which I’m going to give that maybe like three to four, and then can like the food and beverage depending on the application. We’re expected to kind of reach, you know, early commercial scale around in five years time or so. And this is kind of also based on current existing processes and bio reactors and what’s there which is all currently coming from biomed and pharma.
Stephanie Michelsen 29:51
So it’s really single use, it’s high price point, because that’s the only way you know, for orbital now really, that we kind of use cells and so that’s changing now. So I think that this price point is going to change a whole lot in the next coming years. And then to, I guess your second point, on kind of tweak ability of it, so because we control the whole process, and it’s sterile, we can indeed make it easier for us to make little tweaks or improvements to the protein versus, you know, if it’s a cow growing, I mean, you can’t really, it’s difficult to genetically engineer whole cow, you’d have to do when it was only like, in a fetus, fetus, I guess, or like in a in a, you know, one cell.
Stephanie Michelsen 30:32
But that’s something we can do, we control the process, you know, so it’s much cleaner, and then to give you a comparison, as well. So right now you grow a cow a pig about like, three to five years before slaughter. And I mean, that means three to five years of land off, you know, feed of water of taken care of from like a vet, and then you ship it right, and you slaughter it, we right now our production cycle is about four weeks, right? So that’s from like, we grow ourselves, and then we isolate the college. And after four weeks, obviously, it’s not at the same scale but when we get there, I mean, that’s so much quicker, and so much more efficient. And every cow is not the same. So when you when you get college, and you know, it’s usually a mixture of different qualities and different kinds. But for us, we use the same cells. So we’re always going to know the end output which is just a huge benefit as well. And we don’t have a disease risk, because we’re not working with a live animal. It’s cells, right? So it’s much safer as well. And just to draw some kind of comparisons there of how we view it. But we’re not at scale yet. But I think when we get there it’s certainly going to be the future of how we get a lot of the food ingredients and products around us.
Andrew D Ive 31:45
So there’s a number of companies in the traditional collagen category, who have been who have built themselves up over time, you know, Spain, Germany, Asia, etc. The great thing about them is that they’ve built the industry, I mean, they’ve literally built the industry over the last X number of generations, and they have distribution, they have brand recognition, etc. Do they do those companies? Are those companies interested in, in getting involved in talking and perhaps sort of exploring partnerships, etc? Because, you know, we’ve seen in the food space, certainly in the alternative protein space, that traditional food companies have either seen this as a threat, or as an opportunity. Yeah, you know, the smart ones have said, hey, you know, I’m in the business of making my customers happy, if that’s an alternative protein instead of traditional protein. Great. Are you seeing the collagen companies out there starting to take an interest in what you’re doing? Potentially talking about partnerships, or some form of collaboration around this new approach?
Stephanie Michelsen 33:00
Definitely. I mean, I think we’ve seen both are probably the ones that are not as excited, I guess, we probably haven’t heard as much from but certainly, we’ve had a lot of interest from them. And, you know, we started out with kind of like an animal welfare and sustainability point of view, we didn’t understand the supply chain, really, until we got started. But a lot of these delta plants are, as I mentioned, struggling to actually source raw material, right? So it’s, getting more pricey collagen and gelatin and there’s less of it, and at the same time, you have a growing demand, right? So a lot of these companies are indeed realizing this is the future, and you rarely get ahead of the curve than kind of fall behind it.
Stephanie Michelsen 33:37
So that’s what we’re seeing, that’s a smart choice. I mean, a lot of these businesses are built on a process that is the only process we have right now, but maybe outdated needs to change. And a lot of them are realizing that and they want to get something that can sustain their business, because that’s what they’re built on. That’s how they make money and how they make their customers happy. And so we’ve definitely seen a lot of excitement around it. And yeah, so that’s just really, really great to see.
Andrew D Ive 34:08
If one of those companies, if some of those companies wanted to have a conversation, what would be a good way of getting ahold of Stephanie in Jellatech ?
Stephanie Michelsen 34:19
You can find me on LinkedIn and reach out, you can also go to our website, there’s a contact form that you’re welcome to use, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org You know, we go through this, I think, at least every other day or so. So that’s a really, really easy way but you’re welcome to also just reach out to me directly. I’m on LinkedIn, you know, it’s, I think I’m easy to find, so just shoot me a DM or just reach out on the forum.
Andrew D Ive 34:44
I think you are easy to find, but you know, given that I butchered the Mickelson at the beginning of the podcast I’m not sure people will be typing it right. So Jellatech.com Contact Page. You’re probably Stephanie@ arent you?
Stephanie Michelsen 35:00
I am stephanie.michelson. Yeah, it’s a little tricky. But if you get through, I’m gonna be impressed.
Andrew D Ive 35:12
All right. So there’s so much I really want to talk to you about, because it’s just such a fascinating company, business, etc. I’m sort of also cognizant of people needing to get on with their days and things. Last question before we get into the wrap up. You started the company, but I don’t think you’ve started businesses before. What have been some of the surprises of starting your own company and sort of building a business from scratch?
Stephanie Michelsen 35:49
So my background is in science and I remember being a little bit scared of how do you incorporate? How do you do taxes? How do you do accounting? And I was like, Oh, my God, I don’t know these things. But the good thing is like those things you can actually Google an answer to, or, you can hire someone that knows how to do it. I think the challenge is more kind of around the team, finding the right people, you know, growing it, and building that really healthy and productive, a happy workspace, I feel like that’s something that’s super, super important.
Stephanie Michelsen 36:24
I think the most important thing is to have the right team, the right mindset and that’s something that unfortunately, you can’t really Google your way to, I mean, I’m sure there’s some how to videos, but that’s definitely something that I think is a learning experience, but I also really, really liked doing it. And like I said, Before, I love my team, you know, we’re like a family. And so there’s going to be continuously, you know, learning experience, but I think that was probably the one of the things that I didn’t expect to get from Google the other things maybe, but this thing, you gotta learn yourself.
Andrew D Ive 36:54
You didn’t Google how to create a good corporate culture?
Stephanie Michelsen 36:56
I think I probably did but it says so much and I’m like Oh, God. So that’s just what you got to learn, I think the best way is to be humble, be yourself be authentic, and transparent, be yourself because there’s so many awesome CEOs and founders to look up to, and sometimes you’re like, oh, I want to be like them, I want to be like that, when in fact, all you got to do is be your own individual. So, and then you just gotta keep moving forward and do the best you can and hopefully it should work out.
Andrew D Ive 37:28
And it hasn’t always been easy or perfect. From a team perspective, I’m guessing, I’m guessing you probably have to make some difficult decisions when there isn’t a fit.
Stephanie Michelsen 37:40
Definitely, that’s another thing. I’ve had to let people go and that’s not easy but you got to do what’s best for the team and the company and for that person, too. And I think that’s again, a learning experience, right? It’s like, you have a responsibility for your team for your investors and yourself and the mission of the company and the end users. There’s so many people waiting for us to get to scale, right. And so, that’s what you got to keep in mind. If it was everyone would do it, right. So it’s tough, but it’s a continuous learning process. You just got to, you know, do what you got to do. And yeah, move on and learn from everything that you do.
Andrew D Ive 38:20
And if there’s not a fit for that person, it’s good for them to go find the thing that’s going to be their passion. They’re exactly amazing. So Jellatech.com. Stephanie, I keep wanting to say your last name with an Irish accent. I have no idea Michelson. It sounds so Irish to me, despite if you’re from the Nordics right?
Stephanie Michelsen 38:46
Then right? Yeah. Danish but it’s not a very Danish name …
Andrew D Ive 38:52
Talk to your mom and dad about that what’s going on there? You’re probably from Dublin.
Stephanie Michelsen 38:57
Mom was born in Scotland but my name is actually from my grandma who used to have a farm in Denmark. So very, like, I don’t even have like old milk cartons that have engraved with Michelson. So it does come from summertime.
Andrew D Ive 39:10
From cows, when you know from cows three or four generations ago to some cow collagen. Look at that.
Stephanie Michelsen 39:19
Full circle, but good, good new circle.
Andrew D Ive 39:23
All right, so Jellatech.com, Stephanie Michaelson. In fact, did you say email@example.com.
Stephanie Michelsen 39:30
Jellatech.com. You can also always shoot an email to us through oyr website.
Andrew D Ive 39:35
The last question I generally ask people is if people listening, can they in some way, help you? What kind of help would be really valuable to Jellatech either now or in the next let’s say six months? What kind of help are you looking for?
Stephanie Michelsen 39:51
So obviously, you know we are about to start on our next fundraise and then I think on top of that, really excited about this space or you’re excited to learn more about our team, definitely reach out. And or if you are working with a company that can help sell you agriculture company scale. You know, that’s, that’s what’s next for us. That’s certainly something we’re interested in learning more about. And, uh, yeah, or if you have you ideas or input, I’m always happy to learn and have a chat, so you can just reach out. But I think those are main things that are on my mind currently.
Andrew D Ive 40:26
I guess if you’re a traditional gelatin collagen company and if you think that this could be an opportunity instead of a threat to offering a new, additional product, to your product to array to consumer to your clients, etc. Talk to Stephanie, I’m sure that this will be of interest to her.
Stephanie Michelsen 40:49
We want to definitely welcome and reach out to you so you can learn more about what we do.
Andrew D Ive 40:53
it’s pretty cool stuff and they have puppies running around their office space.
Stephanie Michelsen 40:58
Any puppies? Yes, we can give them up. No, I’m kidding. We don’t. It’s just little Sammy, who’s here. He’s actually not here today. But normally he is.
Andrew D Ive 41:07
Alright, thanks very much. Definitely really enjoyed that. All right, I’m gonna press pause once if I can find that guy. Okay. Thanks for coming along to today’s podcast. That was Stephanie Michelson from Jellaech. If you wish to reach out to her, please do so via LinkedIn, Stephanie Michaelson, or via jellatech.com Jellatech.com. There’s a contact us page there, or email Hello at jellatech.com.
Andrew D Ive 41:50
My name is Andrew live. I’m the founder of Big Idea ventures. We’re focused on solving the world’s greatest challenges by finding and working with the world’s best entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers. Our first fund was the new protein fund, where we focused on finding up to 100 companies around the world and supporting them in alternative protein. Plant based, cell based fermentation enabled meat, seafood and dairy companies, also ingredient companies. All of those companies are doing incredible things, bringing new things to market, which are going to make this a far more sustainable planet, ie giving people great meat, seafood and dairy and ingredients in a way that’s far more sustainable than the traditional approaches of fishing in the ocean and so on.
Andrew D Ive 42:42
So that’s it. That’s big idea ventures. We’re doing lots of other crazy things as well. Really interesting things across the food industry. Love to hear from you. By all means reach out to me via LinkedIn, Andrew Ive or bigideaventures.com So I’ve done my bit today. I’ve introduced you to Stephanie, you’re the audience. You’re the person listening. The onus is now on you. If you want to reach out to us, please do so. Love to hear from you. Alright, until next week. Thanks very much.
© Big Idea Ventures LLC 2021