#60 The company making mayo without an egg, butter without a cow

This week, you get the chance to step inside the most talked about business on the planet right now. Hampton Creek’s CEO Josh Tetrick gives us a flavour of what makes his company tick – from attracting investment to staying true to your mission. Learn how this San Francisco unicorn plans to change the way we eat forever by not appealing to hearts and minds, just making great food.


If you’re like most of us, you grew up on nachos, vending machine cinnamon rolls, and fast food chicken sandwiches. Our parents would give us a few dollars. We’d eat whatever tasted good. And more often than not, if it was cheap and tasty, it was also accelerating chronic disease and climate change. That’s how unjust our food system is.

This is how Hampton Creek, rather brilliantly, introduces itself on its website.

So, meeting this business as part of my recent trip to San Francisco was always going to be a highlight.

From our base in downtown, we pile into a sort of mini bus and we’re driven to the outskirts of the city.

We arrive at a rather nondescript, beige-looking, sign-less warehouse-type building.

And this is the home of Hampton Creek, one of the most exciting and talked about businesses in the world right now – and for good reason.

It is a very young company, but with a rich history. You can Google all the stories of coups and customer wobbles; there are plenty of tales doing the rounds, not least the fact that three of the company’s top executives have just been fired by the CEO after he accused them of plotting against him.

Of course, the other huge story is that this is a company that has managed to grab a billion dollars of investment, largely based on a promise.

But what a promise.

This is a business that has promised to make us all eat better by making use of the 400,000 species of plant that the world just hasn't harvested for food so far.

Josh Tetrick:

I don't care about appealing to people’s hearts, I just want to make food taste fucking good

So, I feel so lucky to have entered through the very indiscreet doors of Hampton Creek, past the security guards, to see this place in action.

Much of its cash is currently being spent on laboratory equipment, to find out which of these plant species could be used to 'recreate' the foods that we know and love.

So far, Hampton Creek has about four different products on supermarket shelves – mayo, salad dressings, some cookie dough and cookies – so there is a long, long way to go.

But if you listen to the CEO Josh Tetrick on this week's show, you will understand why we should all be so excited about this business.

Enjoy.


For more on Hampton Creek check out hamptoncreek.com.

As I mention on this week's show, please don't also forget to check out the Better Business Show Pop-Up T-Shirt Store. We have men's and women’s tees emblazoned with fantastic quotes from the great and good of the environmental movemen. All of our lovely organic cotton t-shirts are ethically produced by the wonderful people at Rapanui on the beautiful Isle of Wight.

 

#59 Responding to human rights: Where to start and how to protect your business

 

This episode of the Better Business Show is brought to you in association with KPMG, the global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. KPMG also works with clients to help identify, understand and manage their human rights and social impact.

To find out more head to www.kpmg.com/humanrights

 
 
 

Show notes

This time we’re spending some time with a man at the very heart of the business response to human rights. Richard Boele has spent his entire career fighting the good cause for responsible business practice and remains hopeful that the tide is turning on corporate malpractice.

Perhaps it's too early to make a full assessment as to the effectiveness of measures like the UK's Modern Slavery Act, with the first round of reporting having only just been carried out. But companies certainly need to be encouraged to be as open and transparent as possible.

And it is certainly safe to say that the issue of human rights is one that no company wants to be embroiled in, as well as one subject that every company is most certainly exposed and at risk of.

That’s why we’ve dedicated the bulk of this episode to the subject and we’re super excited to have grabbed Richard Boele to appear on the show.

Richard Boele, KPMG's head of specialist human rights and social impact group

Richard Boele, KPMG's head of specialist human rights and social impact group

In 2015 KPMG Australia raised eyebrows in the business world when it bought a specialist human rights consultancy called Banarra – it was not a move many people expected from an accounting and business consulting firm. But it was a wise move, as you can find out in this week's episode.

Two years on from that acquisition, Richard has firmly established human rights advisory as a service that KPMG member firms now provide to clients around the world.

An absolute goldmine of information, insight and knowledge on the subject of human rights – and the business response – make the most of Richard Boele, KPMG's head of specialist human rights and social impact group.

You can find the KPMG report, 'Addressing human rights in business: Executive perspectives' at www.kpmg.com/human rights.

Follow Richard on Twitter and LinkedIn.


If you fancy getting in touch with me, Tom Idle, then email me or follow me on Twitter.

Oh, and don't forget to grab yourself a t-shirt for the summer at the Better Business Show Pop Up T-Shirt Shop.

#57 Green Banana Paper: ’I learned everything I needed to know about running my business from YouTube’

This time, we’re with Matt Simpson, the man behind Green Banana Paper, a company developed purely as a way to give local employment to a demographic of island dwellers in Micronesia who would most likely have left for jobs in the city. Making wallets from banana trees, learn how this unique company’s process has been a labour of love for Matt, and a great example of alternative materials playing their role in building products of the future.


Show notes

So, Matt Simpson (below right) from Connecticut, arrives in Kosrae, Micronesia in 2008. He is a young volunteer teacher and picks up some work at one of the local high schools on the island.

He falls in love. With the people, with the island, with the work-life balance he encounters. Who wouldn’t? After work every day, he is merely a hop, skip and jump from the ocean where he spends hours surfing and lapping up the waves.

mattheadshot-1280-720-1.jpg

When his teaching contract came to an end, Matt, understandably, was reluctant to leave.

His time on Kosrae had taught him many things, including the fact that very few businesses existed on the island. And hardly anything was exported out of Kosrae. His former students who had now left school were either unemployed, or had already shipped out to find work in the US, most probably on minimum wage.

Matt decided to do something about it. And Green Banana Paper was born.

A bit lost in high school, Matt originally went into teaching because he felt an urge to help kids who, much like him, needed a helping hand to tread their own path in life.

Taking that philosophy into his business, he has built a business NOT to serve his own interests as a budding entrepreneur, but to satisfy and serve the needs of his team of workers and the Kosrae community in which his business sits.

As he explains to me during our conversation this week, Matt had absolutely no previous experience doing what his company now does. He learned everything from Google and YouTube. 

As his latest Kickstarter campaign came to an end last week, Matt’s business is ready and rearing to go. Yes, it has taken a good few years to get to this point. But Matt’s story is one of passion, belief and creating a business for the good of the many, rather than just the few.

Enjoy.

 
 
FXFA8319_580x.jpg
green-banana-paper-company.jpg

Episode #52 - Be more toddler: Ella’s Kitchen founder on the key to business success

Show notes

The organic baby food market is about to explode even further.

While the global market is expected to account for $5.6 billion by 2020, representing an annual growth rate of more than 10%, the market in the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is projected to reach $3.5 billion, a growth rate of a staggering 19.5% between now and 2020.

And that is because of a number of factors, including: Rapid urbanisation; rising parental concern to feed their child with healthy and chemical free products; health awareness programmes by regional governments; and a real emphasis on natural nourishment.

In the BRIC countries, the market is being fuelled by an increase in working mothers, a boost in organic commodities being produced, and government subsidies helping to support what still constitutes a fairly immature segment of the food market.

For centuries, a band of parents have poured over the labels of supermarket products, obsessively looking to give their kids the very best. And why not.

Right here, right now, that band of parents is now a giant flock of more informed, conscious, ethically-minded Mums, Dads and carers who not only want great tasty products for their kids, but are looking for help, support and inspiration to make healthy eat the norm a world saturated by high-sugar, high-salt and high fat kids foods. 

Ella’s Kitchen is one of an incredibly strong growing market of organic, ethically-sourced and healthy kids food taking the supermarket shelves by storm.

Founded by Paul Lindley back in 2006, and named after his first born, the business has not only worked hard to create good food that parents will keep reaching to put into their trolleys every week, but it has done so with a passionate belief in promoting healthy eating and giving Mums and Dads the tools to make the best choices for their children.

I caught up with Paul – who, having sold the business three years ago, is now chairman and “guardian of the mission” –  to find out all about Ella’s Kitchen and how he has taken his business from tiny start-up and turned it into a global phenomenon.

Episode #37 - Jonathon Porritt interview: Despair, frustration and hope from the world's most famous sustainability activist

Show notes

The crash of 2008 was supposed to be a great opportunity for the Left. Radicals talked about the collapse of capitalism; the more realistic among us believed that a focus on efficiency and belt-tightening would at least offer solid ground for a sustainable world to now flourish.

It hasn’t quite turned out that way, as this week’s guest knows only too well.

He may not like to describe himself as a ‘greenie’ – not least because his work over the past 40 years has been as much about tackled economic, social and corporate strategic issues as anything else – but he is entrenched in the community – but Jonathon Porritt (pictured right) continues to bang the drum for progressive thinking, in politics, business and beyond.

And, as you’re about to find out during our extensive and wide-ranging interview this week, he continues to despair at the lack of government intervention in supporting companies of all shapes and sizes to get on the right path towards sustainability – describing as utterly pathetic, the UK government’s insistence that letting companies make voluntary commitments is enough to transform the economy.

Of course, his work at Forum for the Future – which he set up in 1996 – has seen him work directly with some of the world’s most progressive companies, like Marks & Spencer, O2 and Unilever. And today, with a focus on brining companies together to work in collaboration on a range of project, he is also helping small, agile and technologically brilliant companies to flourish too.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Reference links:

- Forum for the Future
- Jonathon's personal blog
- Forum's collaborative system change work
- the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Unilever's approach to the SDGs
- Neal Lawson's Compass
- the More United initiative
- the Living Grid project
Open Energi
- Pukka Herbs

Episode #34 - Honest Tea: Is it possible to run a mission-driven business once you've sold it to a corporate giant?

Show notes

Last week, I was invited to London, to the home of Coca-Cola Great Britain. And I was asked to moderate a breakfast roundtable with a group of great businesses and NGOs.

The event was hosted by Honest Tea - not a company I’d come across before. But I'm sure many of listeners in the US will know of the business very well. It is an organic, low-calorie bottled drink sold all over the US in very large numbers.

And it began life as a start-up. The founder, Seth Goldman, had a moment when he’d been running in central Park and he was thirsty. But there was nothing really on the market to quench his first. So, he decided to do something about it. And in his kitchen, he, along with Barry Nalebuff, Seth’s teacher at the Yale School of Management, played around with some ingredients and Honest Tea was born.

The good news is, Honest Tea is coming to the UK this week in fact, and will soon be available all over Europe.

And that’s the reason why Seth was in London, to launch his business in the UK.

The breakfast session was titled: Can brands be a force for good? And, of course, there’s a very simple answer: Yes, of course they can, and there are many good examples out there to prove the point.

But there are more nuances involved in answering it. And of course, there are many challenges and obstacles in the way. What does good even mean in this context? What if that being ‘good’ is at odds with what your various stakeholders want you to be and do? What happens when your business morphs and transitions in times of economic or social pressure? Is it possible to hold on to those founding principles – and stay true to your mission?

Creating and running a so-called mission-driven business, is not easy. But it is exciting and there are some serious opportunities, as we’ve been finding out on the show since we launched in February.

But what happens when you sell your mission-driven business to a global corporate beast like Coca-Cola, which is what Seth and Barry did in 2011? Is it possible to maintain your integrity and keep your entrepreneurial spirit alive and well, under the pressure of quarterly reporting and keeping shareholders happy?

Seth’s insight and experiences which he shares with us this week are second to none.

Enjoy.

You can find out more about Honest Tea here.

A selection of Honest Tea products

A selection of Honest Tea products

Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, and now Tea-EO of the business

Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, and now Tea-EO of the business

Seth and Barry, the founders in cartoon form

Seth and Barry, the founders in cartoon form


This week's news round-up with Vikki Knowles (aka Susty Girl), features:

- Apple's tax avoidance scandal;
- China's new green skyscraper;
- two new start-ups, CarbFix and Tiger Air Ink - sucking carbon out of the air, and putting it to good use; and
- the cost of cleaning up the Notting Hill Carnival


Episode #22 - Meet Cook, the frozen food business employing ex-offenders

Show notes

One of more than 80 Cook stores across the UK

One of more than 80 Cook stores across the UK

Getting the right balance between work and play is something we all think about a lot. And it is tricky.

It is also a subject that is occupying the minds of HR teams everywhere; how can we give employees the best environment and conditions to make them healthier and happier in the workplace so that they thrive and are as productive as possible?

As such, more and more companies are paying a keen interest in how their staff live their lives – from where they live, to the sort of charity work they might do at the weekends.

There is an interesting debate going on right now about the role of business in and how much companies should get involved in people’s lives. Is it the role of companies to provide housing for staff, for example – a practice that has been going on for 100 hundred years.

We touch on some of these issues with this week's guest. Charlotte Sewell (right), the social impact manager at Cook, a company based on the South East of England that produces frozen food meals.

There’s no doubt about it: this is a company that is taking its social responsibility very seriously indeed – it has a hardship fund (in case staff need to borrow some cash to pay for a new washing machine), it helps people realise their dreams (they might want to start their own business, or build better relationships with their kids).

It even employs ex-offenders. In fact, 2% of its workforce is made up of people coming out of prison as Cook looks to give them a fresh start.

It certainly makes for an interesting story, as you’re about to find out. Enjoy the show and, as ever, let us know what you think of what you've heard (email or Tweet tomidle@narrativematters.co.uk, @TomIdle).

You can find out more about Cook's values here.

Here's some snaps I took during my visit to Cook's Sittingbourne kitchen.

Team assessments with a difference: Cook's 'Team Selfie'

Team assessments with a difference: Cook's 'Team Selfie'

Got a dream? Cook will help you achieve it

Got a dream? Cook will help you achieve it

Where dreams are made: The Sittingbourne Cook HQ

Where dreams are made: The Sittingbourne Cook HQ