#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.


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.


Episode #36 - Why I left my €100k CEO job aged 26 to launch a start-up to save the planet

Show notes

What makes somebody give up their 100k euro salary and CEO position to launch a start up at the age of 26?

Well, that’s what our guest this week has done. His company is HomeTree, a UK based tech start-up focused on alleviating the hassle too often associated with purchasing boilers and other energy saving home improvement categories once and for all. 

The ambition: to be the go-to place for homeowners looking to install and finance a range of products which drastically reduce their reliance on the grid and to live more comfortably, cheaper and in a more sustainable way.

At just 20, Simon was given an incredible opportunity when he was selected by the New Entrepreneurs Foundation as one of the top young potential entrepreneurs in the UK in its inaugural program. The programme placed him with Jon Moulton, the famous private equity investor, on a one-year contract, which ultimately turned into a permanent role. 

By the age of 23, Simon had been sent to his home town of Dublin, Ireland to set up a €100m joint venture fund with the Irish Government. 

By 25 he had made Simon CEO of one of his major investments.

However, inspired by the likes of Elon Musk, Simon felt increasingly compelled to work on what he believes is “my generation's greatest problem”: climate change. Aware of Musk's mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation with Tesla, Simon wanted to do something similar. But as an environmental engineer by training, he was keen to concern himself with the fact that the largest greenhouse gas contributor by far – electricity generation in residential buildings – was not seeing the same type of innovation. 

HomeTree is his response.

Enjoy the show.

Simon Phelan and Andreu Tobella (chief product officer), Hometree's co-founders

Simon Phelan and Andreu Tobella (chief product officer), Hometree's co-founders

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

1. Nike's distribution centre that uses sheep instead of lawnmowers for maintenance
2. Vogue's take on sustainable wool
3. The Union of Concerned Scientists new scorecard on the 13 biggest good companies – most of which aren't doing enough to safeguard tropical forests
4. Management Today's exploration of the impact of executive pay on corporate reputation.

Episode #7 - Etho Capital, proving there is a better way to invest

Show notes

In the drive to find solutions, technologies, gadgets and gizmos that create positive social and environmental change in the world, the importance of money – its movement, and how and where that money is spent, cannot be understated.

After all, money makes the world go round.

The trouble is if the world’s big money remains tied up in pension funds, bonds and financial instruments that continue to pay for unsustainable products, services and fund traditional, and unsustainable business models - then it’s going to be really hard to change things. Have a look at the best performing companies on the various global stock exchanges and they are littered with firms from extractives, oil, coal and other big dirty industries.

So, what can be done? Well, there’s plenty and the exciting thing is that so-called divestment - taking money out of funds and pots which are helping to support unsustainable companies and industries - like oil and gas, like tar sands – is a movement which has been steadily gaining traction these past few years.

From Bill McKibben's 350.org campaign to shut down of the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects, to The Guardian’s Keep It In The Ground, launched by the outgoing former editor Alan Rusbridger as a sort of legacy vanity project, hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people are galvanishing to push for the big foundations, like the Gates Foundation, to divest from fossil fuel schemes.

In September 2015, it was announced that institutions and individuals representing more than $2.6 trillion in assets under management are committed to fossil fuel divestment. And this number is only likely to grow, as 84% of millennials say they favour ESG investing, and roughly $41 trillion will pass to millennials from baby boomers over the next 35 years.

Of course, the concept of socially responsible investment – where enlightened investors that care about the planet, rather than just making a quick buck, are engaging with responsible and sustainable companies – has been around for decades now.

According to Pensions & Investments magazine, money managers practicing socially responsible investing now control almost $6.6 trillion, representing 18% of all U.S. assets under management. That figure has grown 76% in just two years.

Clearly, the conventional wisdom that investors who bring to bear moral and ethical concerns forfeit potential profits by screening out companies in certain sectors, such as tobacco, doesn’t hold up. A report by RBS Global Asset Management says that between 1990 to 2012, the KLD 400, an index of socially responsible stocks, has maintained a higher return on investment than the S&P 500.

And plenty more evidence and research reports pointing to the same sorts of results. It’s no wonder financial heavyweights like Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are embracing SRI too. Last summer, Goldman spent $550 million to buy Imprint Capital Advisors LLC, which utilizes SRI. The same month, Bank of America reported it has invested more than $8.6 billion using SRI strategies.

These profit-seeking investing giants aren't using SRI because it's trendy. They're using it because it works.

Yet some financial experts still don't see the potential profitability of SRI. They believe that investing with an eye toward “social responsibility” — spending money to improve working conditions, reduce pollution or give back to the community — limits portfolios and sacrifices returns.

There’s still a long way to go before we see the mainstreaming of SRI and divestment out of dirty industries.

This week’s Better Business Show guest is a man at the heart of this debate and certainly sees the value of channelling monies into the greenest and most progressive of companies. Ian Monroe is the co-founder and chief sustainability officer at Etho Capital, an investment management company committed to taking sustainable investing mainstream.


You can find out more about the business and the Etho Capital Leadership Process on their website. Here's the link to the ethoetf.com Ian spoke about.

And for more on Ian, check out his LinkedIn profile.

Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to the show via iTunes.