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From Ocean Depths to Outer Space: The Journey of Sophie’s BioNutrients



Eugene Wang is not just a visionary; he's a revolutionary force in the plant-based food industry. Growing up in Taiwan, immersed in a family dedicated to vegetarian food due to their Buddhist beliefs, Wang's entrepreneurial journey is both inspiring and transformative. With Sophie’s Kitchen, he pioneered the first Plant-Based Seafood Alternative, responding to his daughter Sophie's allergic reaction to shrimp. This venture was just the beginning. Wang expanded his vision to the microorganism level with Sophie’s BioNutrients, focusing on sustainable, microalgae-based food solutions.


Sophie’s BioNutrients, under Wang's leadership, is not just another food technology company. It's a beacon of innovation, creating the world's first allergen-free microalgae-based dairy alternatives and burger patties. This Singapore-based company, now expanding to Europe, stands at the forefront of the food tech industry, demonstrating the power and potential of microalgae. With accolades from giants like PepsiCo and Chipotle, Wang's ventures are not only recognized for their innovative prowess but also for their contribution to sustainability and food allergy solutions.


Wang's approach to entrepreneurship is grounded in passion, not profit. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the plant-based sector is profound: pursue your passion. This dedication to passion over profit is a testament to the enduring impact Wang hopes to make on the food industry and the planet. With projects taking Sophie’s BioNutrients to the International Space Station in collaboration with the European Space Agency, Wang's vision transcends earthly bounds, aiming for sustainable food solutions even in space.


For those in the plant-based food industry, Wang's journey underscores the importance of innovation, passion, and sustainability. As we face global challenges in food production and environmental sustainability, entrepreneurs like Eugene Wang lead the charge, offering hope and tangible solutions for a better future.


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>Podcast Episode’s Transcript


Please understand that a transcription service provided the transcript below. It undoubtedly contains errors that invariably take place in voice transcriptions.


Bryan (00:00.866)

Hello everybody and welcome to Plant Based on Fire, where we talk about plant-based businesses and their inspiring stories to thrive in the industry. I'm your host Bryan and joining us today is Eugene Wang. He is the co-founder and CEO of Sophie's BioNutrients, the company that grows microalgae and bioreactors and created the world's first allergen-free microalgae-based dairy alternative and a whole bunch of more stuff that I wanna talk about with Eugene. Thank you for being here and joining us on the show.


Eugene Wang (00:35.53)

Thank you for inviting me as well, Bryan.


Bryan (00:38.702)

I am so excited to talk to you and I want to dive into some of the seafood angles and the dairy and seaweed stuff, but let's just help set the stage for the entrepreneurs and the business owners that are watching this show. What sort of inspired you to enter into the plant-based food industry and how did your upbringing and stuff influence your entrepreneurial journey?


Eugene Wang (01:01.81)

Yeah, that's a good question. So I pretty much spent my whole career making plant meat, so to speak. First started with my family. I was born and grew up in Taiwan, by the way. My family being fourth generation Buddhism. And because of that, starting from my grandma and grandpa making vegetarian food as a street vendor, we've been making vegetarian food for about three generations already. And


Bryan (01:25.714)

Awesome, I'm so jealous.


Eugene Wang (01:27.186)

Yeah, I was in a way lucky in the sense, you know, because of the industry. But, you know, I started out, I want to become a either a computer engineer or Wall Street banker. You know, I even went to Columbia to get an MBA degree.


Bryan (01:32.427)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (01:45.95)

But I guess I saw my father, my auntie, my uncles doing that business. I found myself interested in it. So I quit. I quit all the job that I did before and then I come back to the family. So spend a whole career making plummy. I can tell you even down to the ingredient level what you need to make a plump based burger. I spent six years in the factory. Now, working with the Asian family business, I don't know if you know, it sucks.


Bryan (02:04.78)

Awesome.


Bryan (02:12.93)

Hehehehe


Eugene Wang (02:13.994)

Seniority is important. So until all your uncle's auntie, your parents pass away, move on, you can't get to it, make any decision. So that's why when I realized that my daughter, Sophie has this allergic reaction to the shrimp, I use that as an inspiration and then started my first venture back in California, back in 2010. Yeah. And because of that, you know, we're selling plant-based seafood in between 2010 and 2019 before I sold the business.


Bryan (02:16.578)

Yes.


Bryan (02:33.567)

Awesome.


Eugene Wang (02:42.826)

We got a lot of questions from the consumers, you know, because people are eating seafood first and foremost, not just for the pleasure. It's mostly for nutrition, health. So that's why I didn't turn my attention to look for that silver bullet to make a perfect seafood alternative. And that's how I stumbled on this microalgae opportunity. And we then find out the best way to grow it for food is actually using dark closed fermentation process.


And that's how Sophie's biotrans later on become what it is today. That's a, that's a kind of a short answer for my 20 some years of journey, but I'll leave the rest to the question that you may ask that, or I can come up later.


Bryan (03:13.766)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (03:29.226)

Yeah. Well, I think that does a great job sort of setting the stage on the journey and your expertise. And you have not been doing this for a year or two. You've been doing this your whole life, which just sets the stage that you're the expert in this by far. And I hope to learn a few more things from you. What do you sort of see as what were some of like the biggest challenges introducing plant-based seafood alternatives to the market?


Eugene Wang (03:56.358)

There are tons of challenges, you know, and I believe the entrepreneurs who are just launching their plant-based seafood businesses will see that or already are seeing that already. You know, first and foremost, like I said, people are eating seafood no matter where you are in the world today. People have this idea that...


Bryan (03:58.614)

Yeah.


Bryan (04:08.834)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (04:17.818)

Seafood is very healthy. Those who are eating seafood, like I said, they're not eating it just for a mouthfeel, a pleasure. They're eating it for the omega-3, for the full complete essential amino acid profile, even for tiny minerals that you're not able to get easily from terrestrial animals.


Bryan (04:28.695)

Yeah.


Bryan (04:32.503)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (04:38.958)

And so that's why when you talk about plump seafood for non-vegans, it becomes like, why do I have to eat it? Worse yet, we feel the animal's altering.


Bryan (04:48.374)

Right.


Eugene Wang (04:54.474)

is associated with the animal mercy issue. And so that's why, you know, some animal activists are really against the idea of eating animals and that kind of affect some mundane jindo and jando. But then when it comes to seafood, people have this theory like fish don't feel, you know?


Bryan (05:09.175)

Yeah.


Bryan (05:14.762)

Right.


Eugene Wang (05:15.638)

And so they're like, eating it is not a problem. You don't, you don't feel like you're slaughtering us alive. And so that's why seafood is so important to a lot of people's diet and protein intake. So how to convince consumers to eat plant-based seafood, especially the regular consumer, I'm not talking about vegans and vegetarianists, that is a 64 million question or possibly 64 billion question. Right.


Bryan (05:21.974)

Right.


Bryan (05:37.366)

Yeah.


Bryan (05:42.367)

Absolutely. But it's like, I do think it comes back to having to educate the planet. Like I've been, you know, vegan for about 13, 14 years now. And so like, I remember before I went on an Alaska cruise and caught some salmon on the fishing boat and you pull them out of the water and you hit them with a baseball bat and you don't, you don't kill them that quickly. Like they're still flopping around in the bucket kind of a thing. Like.


Eugene Wang (06:03.662)

Yeah.


Bryan (06:09.43)

You just the violence of just pulling in the 10 fish that we caught that day. But then like, uh, just last week I did a podcast with the remedy plant show and we, we ran like the little animal kill counter for the 60 minutes that were recorded it. And in that 60 minutes, there were almost 10 million marine animals killed.


just in 60 minutes. Like people don't realize how much we are just pulling every single piece of life out of the ocean. And that is what sustains most of the planet. And so if you're pulling 10 million animals, sea creatures out of the ocean every hour, like you have to understand the scale of how bad the problem is and how we have got to find some alternatives that still give you those omega-3s and the taste and everything else that you want out of the seafood.


Eugene Wang (06:32.182)

crazy.


Eugene Wang (06:37.755)

over fishing.


Bryan (06:58.558)

So I applaud your efforts here. And, um, I'm just curious, like, I want to get into some of the more current topics, but like what. You, what led you like you were successful with Sophie's kitchen to a degree. And that helped you start Sophie's bio nutrients, right? And how did those two sort of compliment each other?


Eugene Wang (07:20.71)

Well, I guess the knowledge about protein especially, or the experiences about how consumers want their proteins.


Now, Southeast Kitchen is a B2C company, Southeast Bioneutrient is a B2B company, so they're playing in different fields. And, but more importantly, I would say that the 10 years of B2C business management gave me the wonderful opportunity to talk to the consumers firsthand. I talked to a lot of people, not just in the States, but also throughout the world, who are interested in our products. And I would constantly ask them, why are you interested?


Bryan (07:52.11)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (08:01.907)

What are you looking for?


And what matters to you when you're choosing product like this? You know, that's why I have the firsthand data or knowledge about why people choose, especially comes to protein, why people choose certain proteins versus the other. Give you one example is that there are quite a lot of people like McDoDorSofie who are hoping to get the nutrition from the seafood, but they're allergic to it. You know?


Bryan (08:20.983)

Yeah.


Bryan (08:30.446)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Eugene Wang (08:33.684)

is really a very popular problem.


when digesting protein for people. Because talking about protein, you got issues with allergens from seafood, from even cow milk, from soy protein, even wheat gluten. So it almost exists in every place, not just in the animal protein, not just in the seafood, not just in the plant-based protein. It's like all kinds of protein you will run into allergen issue. But protein, a lot of people today know


Bryan (08:47.554)

Yeah.


Bryan (08:53.186)

Yep.


Bryan (09:06.071)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (09:10.436)

is so important in your diet and especially thanks to the pharmaceutical industry and the medical services that we have people are living longer and when you age you even need more quality protein and that's why this business this technology becomes so interesting is that i can pretty much say maybe people are eating less fat people are eating less carb


Bryan (09:30.165)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (09:37.13)

people are eating less fiber, but they're definitely not eating less protein. Yeah. So how to conquer, how to solve that problem really is what we're working on. And that makes my life more meaningful and more interesting.


Bryan (09:42.626)

That is for sure. Yeah.


Bryan (09:53.842)

I love it. Yeah. I mean, it's true. I think as especially the standard American diet, we're getting a little too much protein and far too little fiber. So eat more kale people. But at the same time, like I think you hit on two really interesting points with that last comment. And number one is I cannot underscore for the businesses that I coach and help guide through this customer discovery is number one. Like you have got to really do really strong customer discovery. And it sounds like that B to C


really set the stage for the next iteration of your vision here. And then the second thing is the niches are the riches. And like, if you say the word vegan, like it builds that weird connotation with the standard people kind of thing. And so like, if you go after allergens, you know, whether it's gluten or seafood or whatever, like there is money to be made for the people that have realized. And I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I can tell you, I think today is day one.


of allergy season here because I can feel it today. And so, you know, so like, you know, how do you help me with my diet to offset just seasonal allergies for the spring flowers blooming, blooming and stuff. So I guess help, help educate the people that are watching the show on what the process is and the benefits of using microalgae as a base for food products and just help, you know, unpack that a little bit for us.


Eugene Wang (10:54.623)

Oh, okay.


Eugene Wang (11:18.854)

So the first thing about why choosing microalgae, I think I need to address that, is that, I'll come back to why microorganism-based protein is more sustainable and more nutritious in a minute, but.


Bryan (11:34.34)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (11:37.182)

The key thing about microalgae is that compared to other microorganisms, so the other microorganisms I'm talking about are including bacteria, which is mostly represented by E. coli, yeast, there are a lot of different kinds of yeast that we're using in the industry already, and then fungi or mycelium. Now in the US and Canada, a lot of people have a lot of negative connotation about fungi, mycelium, mushroom, that type of thing.


Bryan (11:54.286)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (12:06.358)

They're very scary to that, you know. So, fun guy, machine him.


Bryan (12:08.502)

Yes.


Eugene Wang (12:12.59)

It's actually a wonderful microbe to grow a lot of different kind of food ingredients, but just the consumer perception, especially in North America, is not that positive. Now, the other bacteria or acolyte, I don't have to explain, and you know why a lot of people, and even the governments are not easy to make that as food ingredients in the future. It's possible, but it's not easy.


Bryan (12:24.325)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (12:38.626)

Right. Yep.


Eugene Wang (12:40.998)

Then comes to the yeast. Now compare yeast to microalgae. We really feel that microalgae has packed a lot more nutrition than yeast. You'll think about that is that you can easily get omega-3 fatty acids from microalgae. You can easily get chlorophyll. You can easily get iron. You can easily get vitamin B. A lot of these nutrients are not so easily found on most of the yeast.


And so that's why, another example is that when you go into any supplement stores or you Amazon the supplement section, you will see that there are a lot more varieties of Micro-LG products to choose from versus the yeast.


And that tells you that consumer perception about the nutrition from microalgae is more positive. And indeed you can actually get more nutrients from microalgae than a yeast strain as well. And so that's why we chose microalgae. Now, the second thing we do differently is the fact that we use dark fermentation to grow it.


Bryan (13:35.437)

Yes.


Bryan (13:43.659)

Mm-hmm. Yep.


Eugene Wang (13:54.098)

Now reason being that, you know, traditional way of growing microge, I don't know if you know, they mostly grow it in the outdoor open pot. Now that's a bit, contamination is an issue.


On top of that, the production efficiency is very low. So that's why a lot of the supplement-grade micro-oil powder are so expensive. Now, growing them in a dark fermentation tank, you can imagine that we can keep out all the contamination, meaning keep out all the other bad microbes, especially bacteria, and it make our powder, protein flour, has higher purity.


Bryan (14:08.721)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (14:11.928)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (14:18.496)

Okay.


Eugene Wang (14:35.146)

better yet using the DARF fermentation method to grow it, it has higher production yield, meaning we potentially in the future can get our cost down to possibly, we're working on it, under one USD per kilo. Now think about that.


Bryan (14:53.994)

Wow. Yeah.


Eugene Wang (14:55.238)

If we can get our protein under one USD per kilo, you know, even the animal we're eating today can be fed by this wonderful micro-algae to put it in flour. And you know, the animals, there are some research papers done already. The fact that the animals who are eating soy versus animals who are eating micro-algae, number one, their FARP are a lot less. So less greenhouse gas. And also their nutrients in the meat is a lot more dense.


Bryan (15:05.23)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (15:17.219)

Yes.


Eugene Wang (15:23.59)

And that's why we think this is a wonderful protein that we should bring to the world.


Bryan (15:23.714)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (15:28.85)

Absolutely. And so just because I've just finished watching, like, I think it was the twins, you know, what, what the health or whatever those couple, those couple ones are. And they, you know, they had the little segment on the salmon farming and all that kind of stuff. So like the, the environmental side of this has to be taken into consideration. So how does both like Sophie's kitchen and Sophie's bio nutrients contribute to the environmental and the sustainability side of this as well?


Eugene Wang (15:36.79)

Oh yeah, the Netflix documentary. Right.


Eugene Wang (15:43.282)

Right.


Eugene Wang (15:57.886)

You know, talking about seafood, the biggest issue with seafood, unlike the animal farming on land, is the fact that people usually don't see the degree, the level of problems in the ocean. I started all this, including Sophie's Kitchen and Sophie's Spine Nutrient. I always tell people it was because of my daughter, Sophie. It was actually started out with my first scuba lesson that I did almost 20 years ago.


Bryan (16:10.542)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Bryan (16:25.166)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (16:25.338)

There's a patch of ocean that my father used to took me there when I was a little kid and it was full of gel fishes and a lot of wonderful sea animals. And then 20 years, almost 20 years later, oh actually 30 years later, I took my little Sophie over there. It was dead.


Bryan (16:35.263)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (16:43.674)

It was full of trapped plastic, no jellyfish. I even see a chicken bone on the ocean floor. I was wondering how the hell that chicken bone got ended up in the ocean floor. You see what I'm saying? And so we're doing so much damage to the ocean that.


Bryan (16:43.687)

Wow.


Bryan (16:47.49)

Mm-hmm.


Ugh.


Bryan (16:54.271)

Yeah, yeah.


Eugene Wang (17:00.142)

The seafood supply is really in danger and really having a heck of a problem. You know, a lot of people don't see the heavy metal issue. A lot of people don't see the microplastic issue. These are all created by a lot of human beings. Now, so that's why I think, you know...


Bryan (17:04.962)

Yeah.


Bryan (17:12.672)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (17:16.606)

using the new technology to address these issues can help people to stay away from consuming too much of the traditional animal protein that we have. And then by doing so, we hope to alleviate some of their problems.


Bryan (17:30.85)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (17:35.006)

Yeah, absolutely. That's yeah. I, yeah, I don't know. There's so many documentaries. Yeah. Hey, thank you. People have to watch if they haven't seen them to talk about the ocean and stuff. So let's, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about some of the technology. That's my favorite thing as a, as a CTO in the past and stuff myself. Um, what, how does technology help you take this awesome product that you're doing and help you scale up?


Eugene Wang (17:51.595)

Great.


Bryan (18:03.318)

production of microalgae, like how are you leveraging technology in your day to day?


Eugene Wang (18:08.198)

Yeah, so I think especially after COVID, a lot of people saw how biotech is helping help improving our life, you know, is with more people on the planet earth and in more traveling we're doing today, the world has more issues.


Bryan (18:16.212)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (18:26.914)

and biotech industry in the last decades or so has been really mature and developed. On top of that, you know, the connectivity that we have with the mobile phone in our hand, the social media also really help a lot of positive information to flow to different people. And that makes people understand why we're doing what we're doing. Last but not least.


It possibly is a little bit mundane, but I want to get back to AI still. AI even help our job. It is changing the world, man. You know, I have to say, you know, um, AI even help our work, you know, um, AI help us nail down the strain, the species that we need to work on the DNA that we need to, uh, pay attention to even, you know, and that helps us identify the right.


Bryan (18:55.818)

Yeah, it's going to change the world. Yeah.


Bryan (19:10.125)

Wow.


Eugene Wang (19:17.946)

strain right species or right type of microalgae to work with because customers, manufacturers and even consumers, they have their expectations and how to make, how to match that expectations with the biomaterials that we have. If you don't have the technology, oh man, it's going to take you.


Bryan (19:38.786)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (19:42.918)

If not 10 years, a good three to five years. Now with the technology at our disposal, we can make that happen within few months or even weeks that shorten the time to the market. And that really is phenomenal. I have to say, and that's why we're seeing so many innovations coming up, not just in the food space, pretty much in all landscape, all industries.


Bryan (20:09.934)

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I was watching some documentary, I think, where they, they take the samples and they cycle through them every single day, but then they freeze them and they can go back and repick where did this strain start and how to do it. So yeah, I can imagine AI playing a huge role to digest that data set. So exciting. So, but I have to say, you've gotten some industry accolades, I believe, right? How has like PepsiCo and Chipotle impacted your ventures?


Eugene Wang (20:38.21)

Oh, that's an interesting question, Brian. So we joined PepsiCo and Chipotle accelerator programs back in 20, I believe that was 2018 and 19. It was eye-opening for me. We get to network a lot of wonderful.


professional managers, working within PepsiCo and Chipotle. So you get to understand the inner working, because I never spent a day in a big multinational corporate like that. So luckily, I guess luckily I did not. And so that's why my mind is like wide open and I don't afraid of anything where I should be afraid of.


Bryan (21:15.426)

Corporate. Yeah.


Bryan (21:27.174)

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.


Eugene Wang (21:30.478)

And, and, but, but these people, they have their professionalism and that, that really helped me understand different aspect running food business. You know, their considerations, their professionalism is on a whole different level. And of course that couldn't be possible with a lot of teamwork.


Bryan (21:42.754)

Yeah.


Bryan (21:48.931)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (21:53.154)

Right.


Eugene Wang (21:53.202)

And that's why, you know, you get to see a lot of people working on different side of the food business, which you never think of before. Cause as a family business, as an entrepreneur, you're pretty, the one who is doing everything. You're the CEO. You're also the guy who take out the trash, right? So, so that's, that's entrepreneurs. We all, the audience, a lot of your audience are entrepreneurs. So they understand that. But then again,


Bryan (22:00.416)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (22:07.755)

Yeah.


Bryan (22:11.982)

That's right, that's right.


Eugene Wang (22:20.898)

It is interesting to see when you fixated people on certain job, the depth of the knowledge is just mind blowing. Now here's the interesting fact I want to share with your audience is that to understand the breadth of their knowledge makes you feel you meaning like me, entrepreneurs.


Bryan (22:30.167)

Yes.


Bryan (22:43.214)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (22:43.27)

makes you feel that you are needed and you are unique. Now here is the distinctions. Those so-called professionals and academic researchers even, their depth of knowledge is like so deep. You ask them about protein, well, they're not only able to tell you what the structure should be looking like, what are the uniqueness about each amino acid profile, which I cannot answer.


Bryan (23:09.526)

Right? Yeah. Right.


Eugene Wang (23:12.286)

But then again, here is what we entrepreneurs can come in and help is that because they're building their knowledge so deep, they're almost putting a wall next to their eyes, a blind next to their eyes. They don't see anything else. Where we entrepreneurs, we're shallow in most of the knowledge, but we have the width, the breadth.


Bryan (23:32.606)

Everywhere. Yeah. Great.


Eugene Wang (23:38.002)

to take a look at the surrounding and then say, hey, if we connect.A with.B, I can come up with new product C. Or hey, why.A have to go all the way through a circle to get to.D? Why not just go straight? You see what I'm saying? And those professionals, they don't see it because they're so diving to their own field.


Bryan (23:56.01)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (24:06.386)

And this is why with the connectivity, the technologies and everything we have today, entrepreneurs are even more needed than just 20, 30 years ago.


Bryan (24:18.794)

Yeah. Well, entrepreneurship has taken a strong decline in the United States for the past 30 years. So we do need more and more entrepreneurs to get out there and start getting those ideas. I think you brought up another really interesting point. Like I think you should watch this video. Everything is a remix. Um, and it's true because as an entrepreneur, our job is to take all these proven technologies and mash them together in a new combination that some people haven't thought of before. And I think that's half the battle of what you're doing. And.


and the research you're doing, you need those experts that can go deep, but your job is to help blend them together and find new markets. And, and you've definitely been successful. Congrats on your successes with some of those big players in, in the industry. A couple more questions as we kind of wrap up here, what do you see as some of the big challenges facing the food tech industry? Cause I think just this past week, uh, new wave foods and, and they're, you know, shrimp alternative went, you know, just closed up shop and stuff. So.


I'm really, it's really interesting to sort of see how this, the seafood alternative and stuff, what do you sort of see as that food tech industry expert?


Eugene Wang (25:28.478)

Yeah, it's really sad to see New Wave went out of business. They've been there with us since we started Soph's Kitchen as well. Oh, oh wow.


Bryan (25:32.45)

Yeah.


Bryan (25:36.538)

I just tried them for the first time like two weeks ago. And I thought like, I thought like, man, it's not something I see in my grocery store every day, but I was at a really fancy restaurant and got to try them. I'm like, I missed the seafood flavor ish that, that new way brought to the table. So disappointing two weeks later, they go out of business.


Eugene Wang (25:48.534)

Okay. Right.


Eugene Wang (25:54.51)

Yeah. Well, you know, I think that has to do, you know, in Europe, they, they talked a lot about, about talk about that a lot. I don't know if we talked a lot about that in us now is the death valley. So a lot of the entrepreneurs, you know, they get the first funding. But before you go to the real commercial success, there is a death valley you have to cross in a lot of


Bryan (26:10.262)

Yeah.


Bryan (26:18.005)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (26:21.606)

startups just died, fall, failed in this part. Now the Death Valley, according to some of the Europeans, are because of the fact that a lot of investors, especially private investors, they are not, they're not, maybe you can say that they don't really know what's got, what's lying ahead. So they have a lot of fear.


Bryan (26:24.354)

Yep.


Bryan (26:44.129)

Mm-hmm.


Eugene Wang (26:46.114)

So fear of missing out, they're only betting their money on certain entrepreneurs who have successfully getting money from other known VCs. And then that becomes like, if you have a wonderful idea, which guaranteed to be successful, you've got to have a celebrity VC to be with you in order to attract money. Because no matter how good your ideas are,


Bryan (26:54.858)

Yeah.


Bryan (27:07.372)

Yep.


Eugene Wang (27:11.706)

disease are not going to bet just on your ideas, you know? And so, so I think, I think the issue is, you know, entrepreneurs, we, a lot of it are in your audience is that, you know, we all know that money is the critical issue. But when we talked about money, it's the communication. That is really difficult. One.


Bryan (27:15.146)

Yep.


Bryan (27:32.91)

Mm-hmm. Yeah.


Eugene Wang (27:35.894)

The problem is that the technology we're working on is so far ahead or so advanced to a lot of people. Not even the VCs, even the visionary ones or the ones who are dealing with new technology every day. Possibly not even a lot of these people can understand. Then how can you communicate that idea effectively to people and let them see the future?


Bryan (27:54.434)

Yeah.


Bryan (28:01.591)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (28:01.714)

Again, this is another $64 billion question I don't have answer with, but I know if you can crack that issue, you can get the money and every, everyone has their different style in getting people to know, you know.


Bryan (28:05.951)

Mm-hmm.


Bryan (28:12.374)

Yeah.


Bryan (28:17.078)

And it's, and it's that thing of like, you're, you're so far advanced. You have to spend half the time educating the VCs on what it is you do and why it's different, why it's unique. And then I think it's, I've been telling some of the startups that I mentor it. You're just in this weird, perfect space. The interest rates are too high. It's an election year. They're pulling back their funding. You know, they want to invest in proven commodities, not riskier commodities. So it's just, it's a, it's tough on all fronts. I almost say you have to go back to the farmers.


or whatever in grassroots and grow to a stable point and use your cash that you're generating to fund your business right now, unless you get lucky and get that right introduction. I think nine out of 10 businesses aren't successful in raising that money, so they have to figure out, how do I get through that first five years of business and thread through that valley of death, like you were saying. So that's awesome, thank you for sharing that insight.


Eugene Wang (28:53.908)

Right.


Eugene Wang (29:08.938)

Right.


Bryan (29:14.255)

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the plant-based and food sectors? I know we talked about a few things here just now, but what's that one key piece of advice that you've learned, maybe the hard way or something on your journey that you can help new people getting started?


Eugene Wang (29:30.814)

You know, I always say don't do it for money. Cause I saw a lot of people jumping in because there's easy money to grab. Um, or they see a huge profit in the future. I say, don't do that. You know, I say, do it for your passion. If you really feel passionate about plant-based foods, then come join in. You know.


Bryan (29:55.947)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (29:56.57)

If you're not, you just jump in because you see the opportunity there. I think you're in the wrong boat. You're going to regret because this is not easy. This is hard work. There will be a lot of hardship that you have to endure. And how can you get through those hardship? Passion is the only thing that's going to support you.


Bryan (30:05.067)

Yeah.


Bryan (30:13.656)

Yeah.


Eugene Wang (30:21.238)

And for the people who supporting you, they also need to see your passion as well. Cause if you don't show the passion to them, how and why are they going to support a person who don't even believe that we didn't even believe his own thing or her own thing, you know? So


Bryan (30:40.65)

Yeah. It's it's, and it's interesting too. Cause like we talked about that, the, the valley of death that you have to go through and if you're chasing the money, you're going to burn out at 18 to 24 months because your passion is going to run out, but if you're passionate, like I feel like you and I are just having this conversation, like my passion will last for 20, 30 years on this topic. Like I don't see it waning. So I know I can get through that valley of death kind of thing. So


It's just been a pleasure talking with you as we wrap up. What are the next big steps for Sophie's bio nutrients? What innovations can we expect or what's coming soon?


Eugene Wang (31:21.746)

So we're taking our project to the space. We're taking our microalgae fermentation project onto the International Space Station with European Space Agency. So the purpose is that, yeah, thank you. The purpose is twofolds, but most importantly is for the people on Earth.


we're trying to find more ways to cost our process down. So we're trying to find more parameters that we can reduce our production cost through the microgravity condition, which is hard to replicate on earth.


And that's one thing. The other thing definitely is that potentially the project can be extended into a protein production system and part of the light supporting system for the future astronauts who want to journey multiple years to an other planet, or want to settle on moon or on Mars. You know, we were thinking of designing a system, a self sustainable system,


Eugene Wang (32:30.021)

even on the Martian service. And that could be a very exciting work and news for the fellow food industry entrepreneurs.


Bryan (32:41.422)

That is amazing. I did not think starting this conversation with you that we wind up talking about Mars. And I just had this vision of the SOPHIE bionutrient sign on the moon. Come check out our huge farm where we're growing all this cool, awesome algae. So I hope in 30 years, I see your sign on the moon commercials when I land on the moon myself, right? So that is awesome. Congratulations on that. That sounds like a really cool win getting to say our product's been to space and all that.


Eugene Wang (32:52.863)

Thank you.


Right.


Right.


Eugene Wang (33:02.066)

Right. Thank you.


Bryan (33:10.026)

all the stuff that goes along with that. How can we, as a community, help you? We've got a bunch of people watching this episode that wanna support plant-based initiatives and stuff. So what can the community do to help and what are the best ways to get in touch with you and Sophie's bio nutrients?


Eugene Wang (33:27.838)

Well, the best way to help us is actually to help everyone in the plant-based food industry is trying to educate people the benefits of plant-based diet.


and I still have a lot of people even my own relatives around who are not believing yeah exactly and so you know I think I'm not asking everyone to become vegans or vegetarians no I'm not doing that I believe there will always be some people who are still gonna eat animal food or seafood but then again if everyone start to eat a little bit more plant-based food


Bryan (33:43.478)

Same here. Yeah.


Eugene Wang (34:05.41)

our world will become much easier and much better. So that's why you can start, I believe, by convincing people to do a green Monday or green Friday or whatever day you want and, and try to make people to convince that this is actually a better route, not just for the world, for the earth, but also for your body.


Now, if you want to find me, want to talk to me, the best way to reach out to me is on LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn a lot. I don't use other social media. So go to LinkedIn, you Google Eugene Wang, E-U-G-N-E-W-N-G and then Sophie's Bionutrient or Eugene Sophie. It possibly should pop up. Yep.


Bryan (34:46.326)

Yep. I think that's how we got connected. So thanks for connecting with me on LinkedIn. So go check out Eugene on LinkedIn, check out Sophie's bio nutrients and help drive his product and his business forward. Eugene, we really, really appreciate you jumping in here and talking to us about this awesome topic. That's all the time we have for this episode of Plant Based on Fire.


Eugene Wang (34:49.866)

Thank you.


Bryan (35:10.366)

Again, I'm your host Brian, and we really appreciate your insights and all the experiences that you share with us, Eugene. Until next time, everybody, keep that fire burning.


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