Email series on the founding of Meati Foods

The Road to Good Energy: From Buckets to the Mega Ranch

Note: A five-part email series I’ve consolidated into one. The team reproduced the story as a blog post to provide another channel for customers to learn more about the company.

Part 1: Buck It

How many 5-gallon plastic buckets does it take to change the way the world eats?

Just one.

We got ours at a hardware store. It was bright orange, and it was enough to get started.

We threw in everything we had: unwavering commitment to taking on the world’s biggest problems, wild ambition to evolve a food system underdelivering on nutrition and overstressing the planet, and years of research developing a whole food straight from Mother Nature.

Oh, and a fish tank aerator. It helped keep the water just right for our MushroomRoot™ (aka N. crassa mycelium) to grow.

It worked. We were making the first samples of meati™ cuts, one bucket at a time.

We went to two buckets. Then four.

Even when we got to 12 buckets, it took weeks of careful growth to make a few perfect products that we froze, packed into our suitcases, and flew to potential investors around the country. 2018 was a year when we were very worried about airport security.

People loved what we were making. Still, could we meet all the challenges on the way to becoming a home-grown force for improving the food system?

Buck it, let’s find out.

Part 2: Steel Yourself

There’s a trick to fighting monsters: Don’t use plastic.

Without the reflective power of his shiny metal shield to take on Medusa, Perseus’ demise would have been written in stone.

Our Gorgon was speed.

It was 2019. Heat waves, floods, fires, and new weather patterns were on everyone’s minds. We all knew the food system had to quickly do better for the planet, people’s health, and our collective well-being.

Our one-of-a-kind way to grow our special complete-protein MushroomRoot could chop away at all these writhing problems.

But it took too long to make samples for potential investors. The quality was too inconsistent. Our orange plastic buckets — 20 of them by now — and fish tank aerator were no longer good enough.

It was time to steal a page from Perseus’ playbook and go steel.

We upgraded to a home brewing company’s shiny little pots sprouting pipes, clamps, and valves.

They worked. The MushroomRoot grown in their gleaming walls won us seed funding.

The money steeled us to start speedily growing our company to a size big enough to start taking on the big problems on everyone’s minds. Those plastic buckets? Now just a stela to our past.

Part 3: Peaceful Reflection

To the people who set a world record with the completion of a 551,232-piece puzzle in 2011: Where were you in 2020?

We could have used your help.

After crafting meati cuts in plastic buckets and steel home-brewing equipment, we won investments that let us purchase a large fermenter. It would be a critical early piece in our first stage of scaling up production, at a facility we call the Pilot Ranch.

The equipment arrived in pieces.

But that wasn’t the surprise.

Covid was. Lockdowns meant the rep from the company in China would be canceling his trip to Colorado to help with the assembly of this particular puzzle.

Questions came up like mushrooms after the rain: Which valve? That pipe? Where? Wait, really? We dove in. We researched. We tried. We failed. We tried again.

We got it built.

We started producing more and more of our MushroomRoot. Hundreds of pounds, then thousands. A restaurant in Boulder put us on its menu. Additional investors came aboard, powering up further development of the Pilot Ranch with bigger and better equipment. Partnerships with more noted chefs, well-known retailers, restaurant chains, and cultural icons were brewing.

We were still just getting started.

Providing delicious, nutritious, sustainable, and affordable food to everyone around the globe for generations meant we had to go much, much bigger. We needed millions of pounds of MushroomRoot, not thousands.

It wasn’t the time for peaceful reflection.

It was time to start building the next piece of the puzzle: the Mega Ranch.

Part 4: Oh, Mega, Our Alpha

It’s happy and sad at the same time, isn’t it?

We mean that whole every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end thing, as the song goes.

Not too long ago, growing our MushroomRoot in buckets and pots came to an end. Our Pilot Ranch and its industrial-sized fermenters began.

Now we’re shipping meati products to restaurants, grocery stores, and our online customers. We’re on our way to our goal of providing delicious, nutritious, sustainable, and affordable food to people everywhere for generations.

As many of our customers racing to buy meati cutlets and steaks before they sell out know, it isn’t nearly enough.

We always understood that evolving the food system would take more than a few thousand pounds of MushroomRoot from our Pilot Ranch. It would take millions. Tens of millions. Hundreds.

But to do that, we’d need to make a first-of-its-kind, mega-big facility to grow oceans of MushroomRoot.

Building it hasn’t been simple, but our Mega Ranch is close to starting up. It will soon be vastly easier for everyone to get their meati products.

And, oh, Mega — it’s also the blueprint we’ll use to roll out ranches everywhere.

With your support, this Mega Ranch will become the alpha of hundreds of even bigger ranches collectively producing hundreds of millions of pounds of meati cuts as we aim to reach people all over the globe.

Will it be closing time for the flaws of today’s food system?

The future is just around the corner.

Part 5: Meant to Be

A burger, plant-based patty, and meati™ cutlet walk into a bar in the year 2050.

“I have one drink left,” the bartender says. “Who deserves it?”

The burger slides its buns onto a chair and says, “Me. I’m the mooost familiar.”

The plant-based patty processes the burger’s reply and says, “No, me. I’ve gone above and beyond doing the impossible.”

The meati cutlet lets the responses ferment for a sec and says, “Well, I’m the most fungi to be with, but we’re going to need to share that drink to get through making dinner for 10 billion people.”

Cheers to that.

Happily feeding billions more people hungering for more meat — while protecting human and planetary health — we believe is more of an and/and thing, not either/or.

How about improving and diversifying our options, not tossing them? How about different approaches to animal-based meat? Better alt meats? Totally new meats?

It won’t be simple, but the idea guiding this food system upgrade is: We need way more high-quality nutrition with way less impact on our little planet.

Well, it also must be delicious, easy to cook with, convenient to buy, and affordable.

In 2050, we hope to have ranches all over the world — bigger and better descendants of our first Mega Ranch that we’re calling Giga Ranches — checking all those boxes and producing hundreds of millions of pounds of MushroomRoot.

With the support of customers like you, we’ve made important progress on this road to Good Energy™. We went from plastic buckets to steel home-brewing kits. We puzzled together our Pilot Ranch. Our first Mega Ranch is nearly online, giving us a gleaming blueprint to build a better future while helping ensure anyone who wants meati products today can get them.

It’s ferment to be.

Thank you for joining us on the road to Good Energy. We couldn’t have gotten to where we are today without your support.

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