Podcast #8: Aqua Cultured Foods CEO and Co-Founder Anne Palermo speaks with Andrew D. Ive from Big Idea Ventures about starting a company producing whole cut seafood alternatives using fungi.

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 and talk about the exciting projects they are a part of.

To listen to the 8th episode click the links below!

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Transcript:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

product, seafood, food, consumer, people, uncapped, based, oceans, restaurants, protein, growing, investors, reach, exciting, created, alternative, quick serve restaurants, piece, shrimp, excited

SPEAKERS

Anne Palermo, Andrew D Ive

 

Andrew D Ive  

Hi there, welcome to the big idea food podcast. This is Andrew Ive from Big Idea Ventures, your host. Today we’ll be talking to Aqua Cultured, a company producing a funghi based or mushroom based whole white fish and shrimp. It’s an incredible product, no processing, no added ingredients. Very clean, nutrition is fantastic and these guys are trying to kind of revolutionize the seafood industry. So why don’t you listen? Let me know what you think of the podcast, either via the chat box or the comment box or via reaching out to us on Instagram or LinkedIn or one of those places. Love to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Let’s get into it. Thanks. Bye.

 

Anne Palermo  

Hey Anne, how are you?  Hi Andrew, doing great. Really excited to be chatting with you today. Thanks for the opportunity.

 

Andrew D Ive  

No problem at all. Aqua Cultured. Great company. We’re really glad to have found you guys. Tell us what you do?

 

Anne Palermo  

Oh, well, this is great. What we’ve done is we’ve created the world’s first whole, mussel cut, seafood alternative through the process of fermentation. What makes this particularly exciting is our proprietary strain of fungi is grown and not extruded. This allows us to maintain a superior nutritional profile to other forms of plant based seafoods in particular, while maintaining that traditional seafood like texture. So it’s a really exciting product I’m excited to be working on it.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Did you rehearse that? Or did you have it written down or have you said it so many times in the last six months that it’s just verbatim? but unpack it for me, come on, let’s, give the people a more common man or common person, or common woman description of what that really all means. Okay, so Aqua Cultured, what’s the product? Tell me what people get to either eat or use?

 

Anne Palermo  

Sure. Okay. So Aqua Cultured foods has created an alternative to traditional seafood. How we do that is by growing a proprietary strain of fungi into a whole piece of like a shrimp or a white fish fillet. We’re working on aki tuna, which we’re really excited about. So with a goal to remove the strain on our oceans and create a more sustainable food source.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, so a solid piece of white fish or shrimp and you’re using funghi to grow that and it has the same, and I’ve seen the product so I know because I have seen it. It looks like a piece of white fish. It looks like a piece of shrimp. It looks like it, it has the texture of it. It’s pretty uncanny actually. Then you are using that to create a product that people can then take take home to their kitchens and make some great dishes alternative to fish and seafood.

 

Anne Palermo  

Yes, exactly. So that’s what we’re particularly excited about. Our first product is a popcorn shrimp, we have three flavors, an original, a spicy and a coconut shrimp. These ones are going to be merchandised in the frozen section next to traditional seafood. It’s great. It’s got very similar nutritional qualities to that traditionally caught or raised shrimp and that it’s high protein. It’s got the macronutrients that you’re really looking for, it is as close to unprocessed as you can possibly be.  

 

So we’ve got a really great nutritional profile. But what I’m particularly excited about is our fresh, refrigerated product. This is the whole cut pieces that just have the similar texture, feel, nutritional, just absolutely look and appearance of traditional seafood. So what we’re creating is, for example, a piece of white fish that has the look and feel of white fish.  So it could be used as a piece of sashimi and that is kind of how we are marketing it at first, just because of the beauty of the product and its appearance. So we want to really be able to highlight that and really show how differentiated it is. And this type of product is going to be the first to market in the fresh refrigerated section, preferably next to the other forms of alternative proteins such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat in the fresh refrigerator section.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Got it. So one of the things we’ve experienced in the alternative protein space, the plant based, cell based, fermentations based side, is that complaints have been raised that the early iterations of these products include lots of ingredients, can be processed, and that is not a clean label, right? The labels are often, you know, pretty darn long for some of these products. 

 

Anne Palermo  

Right, exactly. See, I’m so glad you brought that up. That is one of the areas I’m really excited about. We’ve got an extremely clean ingredient list, it is just the protein. So through biomass fermentation is how we’re creating and growing this particular strain of fungi. So all of the nutrition is naturally occurring. It’s got high levels of protein, has high levels of fiber, it has macro and micro nutrients, vitamin B’s. It has everything you’d really need or want in a fungi based protein. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

Now, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of these companies that have been creating products over the last three to four years have taken on board that feedback and have done what they can to, to simplify and to clean up the ingredient nutritional panel, but in your case, it’s a solid piece of Funghi and therefore, no processing, no machines. Well, obviously, I’m guessing there is some preparation in terms of cutting and forming, but in terms of multiple ingredients, lots of processing, lots of steps in the manufacturing, you guys are just not anywhere near that, are you?

 

Anne Palermo  

Now, interestingly enough, mushrooms are not considered plants, they’re considered closer to animals. It’s a third unique Kingdom all and of itself. However, the FDA classifies it still as being a plant and so the industry is kind of out on whether or not fungie based protein products, such as Aqua Cultured Foods, should go by plant based, mushroom based, funghi based so we’re all kind of in it together working out the exact terminology but the beauty of the product is how clean it is, and nutritionally superior.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Now one thing I’d like to also dig a little deeper into, you mentioned you used the term biomass fermentation process. Now I’m sure that means something to scientists and people really involved in this space but, if I can simplify it, or can you simplify it for us, it’s just growing it, right? You’re just growing. I guess the fermentation side is what you would do with a beer or a product like that. So I don’t want people to start thinking about oh, my God, biomass fermentation processing. This is scary and horrible. What do you mean? Is it just growing a piece of something?

 

Anne Palermo  

I am glad you brought that up. For clarity sake, yes, we are just growing a mushroom. Very similar to how button mushrooms are produced by industrial level. I’m not sure exactly but they use trays with some form of sawdust or coconut husk and then they seed it with the pure spores, or they inoculate it with pure spores and then it grows.  Well, we’re doing something very similar to that only we are growing it in trays with liquid.  So it’s still going to be grown and produced vertically, which is very exciting, because it’s allowing us to create a very sustainable product in the fact that it uses significantly less water, energy and land acreage for production. So we’re having a very strong significant environmental impact that way which is exciting. But when it comes down to what we’re doing, yeah, we’re just growing a mushroom in a tray. So it’s very, very simple.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, so biomass fermentation processing is growing little mushrooms or big mushrooms in a tray?

 

Anne Palermo  

Pretty much. Yeah, pretty much. The biomass has been bigger so it’s not like a powder. So yeah.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, got it. So much more sustainable, low levels of processing, significant amount of protein, similar nutrition to a fish or a shrimp or whatever. I’m scratching my head a little bit. What are the downsides? What are the challenges? Why do we still say no, it’s not for me?

 

Anne Palermo  

I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a downside on a consumer level. It’s better for you. It’s better for the environment. It tastes great. It has the familiar texture that you’re really looking for, it’s tender. I don’t think there’s a downside at all from a nutritional point or a sustainability standpoint, or, of course, from an animal statement environmental impact. So it’s superior on multiple levels.  

 

Anne Palermo

I guess the challenges that we’re coming up with right now is the fact that this technology is just so cutting edge and new, that we’re going to have to create our own facility in order to grow it because co packers and co manufacturers of this type of product are not currently available, they don’t exist.  So on one hand, it’s really great, because we’re going to be able to safeguard our trade secrets, maintain superior quality of the production and just have a handle on that whole supply chain. On the other hand, it’s a significantly larger project that we’re entering into. 

 

Anne Palermo

However, understanding the importance of those trade secrets, it’s probably going to end up being for the best because, like I said before, we can really safeguard our trade secrets, in addition to the fact that we are going after three patents.  So highly defensible product, really excited about all that but throwing in the mix, having to figure out the facility it’s a lot to work to do but it’s very manageable. That’s part of the excitement about what we’re creating. If you’re going to build a facility, this is the one you want to build because of how straightforward it is, and how similar it replicates the industrial process of button mushroom production.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Absolutely, and in the last three to four weeks Seaspiracy has come out and a lot of people are talking about it. It’s raising a lot of questions and discussions around how we’re dealing with our use of fish and so on from an ocean perspective. Is that kind of discussion that’s going on right now helping Aqua Cultured? Is that part of the discussion that you’re getting into with potential investors?

 

Anne Palermo  

Yes it really is. It’s shining a light on what’s going on, and how changes are needed. What’s so important about that is that, from a consumer level, the consumers are looking and searching for these alternative products and at investor level, there’s more awareness so the opportunity is really having a light shone on it.  

 

There are significant case studies, there’s research, there’s due diligence out there for investors so that they don’t necessarily have to put in the 10s of 1000s of dollars to do it on their own. These case studies are already created and out there. So it’s just shining a light on the problems in general and it’s really good for everybody, you know, the more information that’s out there, the more it’s talked about, the better our chances of increasing and saving our oceans sooner rather than later. That, I think, is definitely an industry wide win.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Now, the great thing is that where the consumers go, the retailers and the food service follow. Because dollars and giving consumers what they’re looking for, is what the retailers and the food service folks are focused on. Are they expressing an interest in  these alternative seafood products? In Aquaculture in particular?

 

Anne Palermo  

Yes definitely and the industry itself is a nascent industry right now, so I think plant based seafood is about 1% of the size of the total plant based market right now.  However there is extremely high demand for this product. There just haven’t been a lot of companies diving into the space. So there’s very high demand.  Recent studies have shown there’s a 13 times increase in demand for the products in its growth. It is expected to grow to $1.3 billion within the next 10 years of plant based seafood itself.  

 

I’m not sure if that’s just America, but I feel like it probably is because globally we’re talking about the seafood market being a $206.9 billion market. So it’s a huge, massive industry.  With the number of people moving towards plant based everything… plant based meat, plant based milk etc means that plant based seafood is now starting to get the attention that it really truly deserves. So what we see here is massive demand. No players or very early smaller players, but no main one name which puts us at Aqua Cultured in a very uniquely interesting and exciting position to come to the forefront and be the household name that we hope to be.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Fantastic. I agree. So I’m guessing investors are knocking on your doors. How’s that been going? Have you had folks who are interested in supporting the mission and also seeing this as a potential wealth creation opportunity for their own investments?

 

Anne Palermo  

Yeah, you know, it’s going really well, which is exciting. Especially since the BIV announcement has come out, we’ve been having a lot of investors reach out to me and set up phone calls. Since Seaspiracy, people in my network have just kind of been reaching out and making introductions to VCs and all the VC calls have been going really, really well.  There’s high amounts of interest in the product, there’s high amounts of interest in the technology and the defensibility of the technology, there’s a lot of interest in being a key player early on, that’s really poised to become a major player and leader in the market but right now, as being the only whole muscle alternative for seafood, I think we’re in a pretty good position to take advantage of that, especially with the sources of BIV so this has been a real blessing for us.

 

Andrew D Ive  

You’ve been great as part of the program, you really have. Your attitude, your approach, your drive, your hustle, any dimension you care to think of from a founder perspective, we were all cheering for you and we think you’re amazing. Which brings us to you guys. Who are the founders? Tell us a little bit about your background and story, if you wouldn’t mind?

 

Anne Palermo  

Of course. We’ve got a very unique background and story. My partner and I have a combined 25 years of experience in food and beverage. So with CPG, food and beverage, we’re really experienced on the marketing, the sales, the product development side. We make a really great team with very complementary skill sets.  So, I started out in finance and I worked in finance for quite some time and then I realized that my calling was towards food, so I went to culinary school but always knowing that I wasn’t meant to be working in restaurants full time. I went for the passion and the love of the food and beverage industry.  

 

Anne Palermo

So I graduated and I combined my finance and entrepreneurial background with my culinary background and started a snack company which I took nationwide and grew really rapidly. So that was exciting. However, it wasn’t necessarily as close to my heart as this is. So just really seeing the world, seeing what was going on with our oceans, the fact that the global population is expected to increase by 2 billion in the next 30 years, understanding the significant impact of that and I’ve always had a tendency to want to reach out and help where I can.  

 

Anne Palermo

That’s when I discovered this product and through processing and the process of refining, experimenting and testing really created something that is game changing on so many different levels. The reason why I’m so particularly excited to be working with BIV is because they were able to help us with the networking and the support in order to make this product become what it has become.  My 

co-founder is truly amazing. She also has a background in food and beverage. She had a snack company as well that she has grown very successfully but prior to that she worked for Schreiber foods, which is a $6 billion global dairy company, where she worked in sales for both private label and quick serve restaurants or just the restaurant food service channels. Food service is exactly where we want to focus, at least early on, while we’re developing our value added product for the retail space.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, so that’s you and that’s Brittany, you’re both f&b, a lot of experience, product development, marketing, culinary, so you’re kind of approaching it from lots of different angles. What do you see, from a business perspective, as the key challenges or things you need to get right. 

Obstacles over the next year or two as you grow, what are the things you’re sort of cognizant of and trying to solve as you move forward?

 

Anne Palermo  

Great, really good question. So some of the areas that we really need to work on is our recruitment. We need to hire a few truly powerful, motivated, industry changing key hires. Somebody for operations and somebody on our science and tech side, in order to help move the business forward. It’s a lot of work and right now, our small but very capable team are looking to hire and recruit those key hires.  Then also fundraising. So we’ve started, we are still very early on in the process, but we are in the process of fundraising and that is going to be truly game changing for us. It’s going to help us We will put all the key resources onto scaling up and getting the product out there, because the sooner we can get a product out there, the better it’s going to be for everybody.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Okay, so recruitment, and fundraising. From a recruitment perspective, there are two roles you’re looking for right now. Right? So one is an operations person just in case there’s anyone listening who happens to be in operations and is really excited about what you guys are doing or know someone that might be. What are the kind of couple of the key points you’re you’re needing, from an operations experience perspective?

 

Anne Palermo  

Sure. Well, somebody who is a good cultural fit, because they’re going to be joining the team very early on and working very closely with my partner and myself so they have to be experienced in the industry. Preferably if they have experience on food and beverage and food tech, because there are unique needs. Somebody who has supplier connections, somebody who has a lot of experience with forecasting across multiple channels. Somebody who’s good with mathematics. These attributes have come straight off my tongue, there may be more.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Yeah, that’s great. So in terms of your website, where people can go and find out about some of these things, both the product the team, maybe recruitment, etc, what website do they go to for that?

 

Anne Palermo  

Right, great. Well, right now it’s aquaculturedfoods.com So with a D, so Aqua Cultured Foods with a .com. We are going through a rebrand right now. We’re going through the process of a rebrand to be Uncapped Foods. It’s a much more consumer friendly name, that will allow us to really capitalize on the cross category potential.  So our packaging is going to have shrimp or seafood really big. So it’s not confusing at all. But we want to be able to, at some point, take advantage of the cross category potential of the product that we’ve created. So if we have something called Aqua Cultured Foods and the science side is very relatable and great, but at the consumer level we’re hearing that it’s got a little bit of a ewww, from consumers….

 

Andrew D Ive  

Really, because in England culture means someone that has class and elegance and style. So Aqua Cultured sounds perfect to me. So here’s the thing for everyone, anyone listening, and there’s probably only about seven people listening. So I’m not sure this is data driven but anyone listening if you want to add a comment, either a thumbs up or a thumbs down for the brand, Aqua Cultured versus Uncapped Foods ….. So, okay. Aqua Cultured, or Uncapped Foods. Give a thumbs up for one or the other and a thumbs down for the one you like least. And I will bet you Anne Palermo and maybe I shouldn’t say this, because then people are going to go against me, but I bet you 85% of the people are going to go for Aqua Cultured. But we’ll see. We’ll see.

 

Anne Palermo  

And this is something I’m glad we’re chatting about too, because the cultured side is in Posh as you mentioned, is exactly what we thought when we first named it. However, we’re getting one of the branding experts that we got connected with by BIV, telling us that it was the best product with the worst name he’s heard in a while.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Wow. Yeah, I guess that shows when you put the word expert at the end of a sentence for someone’s description, I don’t know if that means anything or not. But I think if you’re talking to somebody who is like deep in the weeds on alternative protein, cultured means cell based and means science and all those sorts of things, but to your average run of the mill, consumer who aren’t up to their elbows in alternative protein, saying something’s cultured doesn’t mean science.  

 

Andrew D Ive

It means it’s elegant, it’s stylish , it’s sort of nice. I guess cultured is nice. I guess it depends on where you come from politically, everything is political nowadays. But so yeah, Uncapped to me has no meaning. So, I know I’ve discussed this with you before, so I’m not going to bring up an old discussion, but yeah, anyone listening, thumbs up or thumbs down to Aqua Cultured versus Uncapped Foods, if you’d like one versus the other love to get your comments and feedback and if everyone says Aqua Cultured, then Anne, you’re going to have to listen to me and rethink.  

 

Anne Palermo

Okay, let’s not get off track completely. Back to Aqua Cultured. Sorry, back to Uncapped Foods. We’ve talked about you guys, we’ve talked about the challenges. We’ve talked about recruitment and funding, kind of being the key challenges. From your point of view, if everything goes to your longer term plan, where will Uncapped Foods slash Aqua Cultured Foods be in five years time? Talk about, if you wouldn’t mind, your place in the market, maybe talk a little bit about products and maybe even talk about geography, you can take that in any direction you want.

 

Anne Palermo  

Yeah, sure. I think Ideally, we’d have a similar trajectory as that of Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat. We’re coming in as an early player with a significantly improved upon product in the alternative seafood space. So we’ve got that, which is really great.  

We are targeting both food service and retail branded for multiples for a few reasons. Food Service, because 70% of all seafood is bought, purchased and consumed out of home in restaurants. So that’s a massive opportunity that we’re really and truly targeting. 

 

Anne Palermo

With that, then also, we want to leverage our name recognition and the experience of the whole eating experience with an in grocery store, in home eating experience. So we are going to be leveraging that recognition, as I said, to get our value added product onto the shelf in the grocery stores.  So that’s our initial strategy for go to market. However, we’ll also, since we’re American, be launching in America. However, we see this as a global play because seafood is consumed in significantly higher quantities per capita globally than it is in America and so we really see this being something that will have very high acceptance rates overseas. So we do see ourselves going globally with this.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Do you see yourself having the potential to partner with an existing seafood company?A company that has, for the last 20/50 or 100 years, been selling seafood as a core product with a strong understanding of the consumer distribution, all of the things that you’re going to need to understand to do well with your product, or based on what they’ve been doing? Do you think there’s just not a cultural fit, and it’s not a relationship that you would look at? 

 

Anne Palermo  

You know, that’s a really good point. On one hand, I love the idea of partnering with a global seafood company, because they do bring all of those fine attributes and experience and supply chain that you are talking about. On the other hand, seeing everything that’s going on in the industry it’s a little bit scary.  So it’s like, do I want to be associated with that side? But at the same time, if they are truly trying to make an impact and to have an impact, like why wouldn’t I be interested in having a conversation to see where things could potentially lead? 

 

I think that the opportunity for partnership could be wonderful.  As long as both companies are Mission aligned, I think it could make a lot of sense but like I said, we’d want to be mission aligned, we want to make sure that we are trying to save our oceans and we want to make sure that we’re trying to feed the 2 billion additional mouths and we want to do it sustainably, and deliciously so it’s something I hadn’t really thought of, but I think it’s something I should truly consider.

 

Andrew D Ive  

I think that’s a really great way of thinking about things. The biggest impact you guys can have on the ocean, you know, on what we’re doing to it, is to make your product as readily available and accessible, as delicious and as amazing as possible to as many people around the world as possible. So the more people that can consume Aqua Cultured products and Uncapped Food products, the more they won’t be consuming seafood.  

 

And you know, I think there’s the potential for a significant amount of profit for those traditional seafood companies, who know what consumers are looking for when they’re buying popcorn shrimp, or white fish, etc. So that consumer understanding is important. The distribution channels are important and, if you guys can sell millions and millions of units of your product, which is fungi based, that’s a number of fish that aren’t necessary to be farmed from the ocean. So let’s make you guys as globally successful as possible. I think that’s the solution to solving some of the challenges we have. 

 

Anne Palermo  

I feel you Yes, definitely. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

All right. So from an investor perspective, you’ve mentioned that you’ve already had some investment, obviously, we invested. What kind of investors are you looking for? And what kind of relationships on that side of the equation are you seeking out?

 

Anne Palermo  

So we’re currently seeking out smart money, because it’s a partnership, especially with where we are in the production cycle, in the growth cycle of our company, so we’d like to have smart money to help us invest, but also the contacts, the experience, the understanding of the industry, where we are, where we’re going, how we’re going to get there and then the ability for an investor to make introductions to some key players in the industry that we may need to speak with at some point, or maybe some buyer intros.  There’s always so much more value in smart money and so I think that is who we are initially targeting, especially because in this space right now, the alternative protein space, particularly alternative seafood, there’s a lot of money being thrown at it, especially because we’re fermentation and fungi based. So we kind of have all three really hot industry trends right now. 

 

Anne Palermo

So we’re trending towards the enviable position to be able to choose who is going to be on our investor team and I think we really want somebody who’s going to be part of the team with us.

 

Andrew D Ive

Absolutely. I don’t know where this is coming from but one of the things my wife has loved for quite some time is the occasional fillet of fish from McDonald’s now, she’s pretty high and she likes really nice food from really nice places. She also likes more accessible foods from companies like McDonald’s sometimes, I think there’s a time and a place for everything. Do you see the ability for Aquacultured and the kind of solid white fish that you guys are growing, being something that could one day be on the plant based fillet of fish menu for a company like McDonald’s?

 

Anne Palermo  

Oh, I definitely do, especially because our whole process, once we reach scale, is going to be really relatively inexpensive to produce. So it’s always going to be a premium product but we should be able to hit price targets that McDonald’s or any other QSR are really going to be interested in order for them to meet their customer demands on price. 

So we’re going to be able to provide a really delicious, better for you sustainable product at a price point that McDonald’s or any other quick serve restaurants are going to be interested in purchasing from us and it’s going to be a win win. I’d be very interested in pursuing that.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Perfect. From a prediction perspective, what? Where do you think you see Aqua Cultured Foods being sold first? Or where do you think you’ll see Aqua Cultured Foods being sold in first? Do you think it will be a restaurant? Do you think it will be a grocery store? Do you think it will be direct to consumer via your website? Where do you think people will first be able to find and consume your product?

 

Anne Palermo  

That is another great question. Later today, my partner has some phone calls set up with a really famous chef in the Chicago area so I’m going to hope that that’s going to be our first to market experience. In a really nice high end restaurant. However, our first experience, we were initially thinking we were going to go to market with our fresh, refrigerated product first. However, there’s going to be a level of consumer education so that they don’t overcook it and with that, we’re thinking we’re going to go to e-commerce first. However, going to launch with a frozen product first and so direct to consumer through frozen doesn’t make as much sense is a strategy.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Excellent. Explain that for a minute. For people that aren’t in the know, why does a frozen direct consumer kind of approach not make a lot of sense in the first instance,

 

Anne Palermo  

Well, the reason why is it costs $50 to ship something frozen overnight, and there are supply chain hassles and that’s just if you actually get it there overnight. I’ve shipped products out to you and a few more people on the BIV team overnight, and they took three or four days to get there, even though it costs $50. So I don’t think the average consumer is going to want to spend that type of money on a product to be shipped. So that’s why I don’t think frozen and direct to consumers is the way to go.  

 

Anne Palermo

Now fresh refrigerated is different because we can ship it out frozen with ice packs and insulation, and by the time it gets to the consumer, it will arrive partially frozen, partially thawed, which is fine because it’s a refrigerated product and doesn’t have the same requirements. So that may still be a strategy that we’re entertaining, but as far as our first product launch, we are simultaneously going after food service and grocery channels and we have connections in both so we’re getting a lot of excitement on both because of the fact that we are so new.  

 

One of the top three major distributors of grocery products in the US are having continual talks with us, about it and it’s looking very likely that they’re going to pick us up. So I think they they’re just waiting for their buyer to come back from maternity leave. So I don’t know if I can say that, I hope I don’t get in trouble. So, that’s looking really strong and really exciting. I think that we can reach a lot of people that way but at the same time with 70% of all seafood being bought out of home, we would be remiss to not target food service. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

So again for those people listening, who are not in the food space, food service is …break that down for us. What does that mean?

 

Anne Palermo  

Sure, restaurants, mostly restaurants, cafeterias, University lunch halls, workplaces like Google’s cafeteria, any place like that, just any out of home place where you are going to buy food.  We’re mainly targeting higher end restaurants with our first raw products. We like the idea of the pokey bowl shops, because you can see how beautiful these pieces are. So there’s a lot of restaurants that do that, that we want to target.  

 

Anne Palermo

But with our fried, we can make it in so many different forms. So we can have a popcorn shrimp or we can have a calamari and others and so when you open those doors up, that’s a really great opportunity for quick serve restaurants. That’s what the QSR is in case you’re not familiar. So quick serve restaurants, and also fast casual restaurants.  So like Olive Garden, Red Lobster Fridays, any of those sorts of restaurants as well because those are really great. Like when was the last time you went to a fast casual restaurant and didn’t see like fresh fried calamari on the menu or shrimp. Yeah, and so these are just two really great, value added ways, to really target that key plant base Consumer demographic that doesn’t always have new and interesting and exciting things to try on a menu in a restaurant.

 

Andrew D Ive  

So when you’re ready, remind me, we’ve got a really good relationship with the head of culinary for the Hyatt chain across Asia. So the chap is based in Singapore, but he’s responsible for, I think it’s something like 250 to 500 Hyatt hotels across Asia..  He was the chap who brought Beyond and Impossible to Singapore, where it was first tasted. It was the Hyatt people who were in a line around the building and down the street to test these amazing plant based products. I think it would be great to get you guys to have him play with your product and kind of maybe launch it in Asia at some point. 

 

Andrew D Ive

Obviously, let’s get some real traction going on in North America, because that’s the focus but you know, when you’re ready, let’s remember to go talk to the chaps at the Hyatt because they’re pretty forward thinking.  Which brings me to the point, if there’s anyone in the US who is either on the hotel side, the restaurant side, and your consumers are gravitating towards plant based and you’re looking at new ways of getting excitement around your restaurant around your hotel, please do reach out to Anne or myself and let’s talk about how we can get Aqua Cultured as part of that excitement in your new place.  

 

Andrew D Ive

So 40 minutes, and I don’t want to keep you too long as I know people have things to do in their lives when they’re listening to this. What can people do, whether they’re consumers, whether they’re retailers, restaurants, chefs, investors, and so on? What can people do to help Aqua Cultured / Uncapped Foods with its mission? How do you want people to engage with you today and moving forward?

 

Anne Palermo  

Oh, that’s a really great question. Um, maybe reach out over LinkedIn. I check it all the time. So I’m Ann Palermo on LinkedIn, Aqua Cultured Foods, and I would love to have any kind of conversation with anybody.

 

Andrew D Ive  

Anyone at all wants to reach out to Aqua Cultured Foods on LinkedIn. Just reach out. Maybe, when she is rich and famous, she won’t answer but right now, as she’s building an amazing food company, she will absolutely answer you. So that’s LinkedIn. I’m guessing you’re aquacultured.foods.com  Yeah, and it’s Anne with an E. So anne@aquaculturedfoods.com? Oh, email. 

 

Okay, now you’re gonna get all kinds of, I don’t know, hair growth, hair growth offers and all sorts of other random things now…. better change the name now!! What would be one last question before we head off into the podcasting sunset? What would be one piece of advice you would give a fellow entrepreneur that’s kind of coming up behind you. I know that you guys have been building this company for a little while now, what would be the one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you a year or two ago that you want to pass on to somebody?

 

Anne Palermo  

I think it’s don’t be afraid to reach out to people, you know, especially in this all protein industry. Everybody has the same goal and the same mission, you know, a rising tide raises all ships and I’ve been reaching out to people more and more and having more conversations. The more I have, the more I learn, the more they learn, just the better off everybody is. So, you get connected with people that way, and it’s just been really great for us overall. You just never know who might be interested in a conversation or who might think what you’re doing is really cool. So just put yourself out there is my number one advice. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

That’s fantastic. I hadn’t even thought of it. So, Anne Palermo, Aqua Cultured Foods, please do reach out if you’re a consumer,  retailer, food service chef, potential investor and if you want to find out more about big idea ventures, big idea ventures.com Big Idea ventures via LinkedIn. We’re always looking for great founders Like Anne and Brittany. I’m not sure we’re ever going to find as many great founders as Anne and Brittany but if you’re a founder in the alternative protein or food Innovation space, please do reach out to us and if you want to help Aqua Cultured Foods in their mission, reach out to Anne and Brittany. Thank you so much. Anne (with an E), thank you so much. I do hope people vote for Aqua Cultured Foods instead of Uncapped that will just kind of screw with your day. Just a little. Thank you for your time today. 

 

Anne Palermo  

Thank you, Andrew. It’s such a pleasure. I really appreciate being invited on your show. 

 

Andrew D Ive  

My show Oh, my goodness. All right. Thanks, everyone. back in a sec. Hi, it’s Andrew again. I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Aqua Cultured Foods. 

 

These guys are doing some incredible things so I know they’d love to hear from you. I know they’d love your engagement and support, please do reach out to them via their website and the various places like LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.  Big Idea ventures are the folks behind the investment in Aqua Cultured. We’re very focused on supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs to solve big, big problems. So love to hear from you about big idea ventures as well. All right, thanks very much for taking part in today’s podcast. Look forward to hosting you again on our next podcast. Subscribe, Like do all the wonderful things that mean we’re getting positive feedback in terms of what we do and, if there’s things we can do better, let us know that too. Thanks for joining the big idea food podcast. I look forward to chatting with you all next time. Bye.


 

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