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Paul Shapiro: Pioneering the Future of Sustainable Plant-Based Meat



In the latest episode of the Plant Based on Fire podcast, we had the privilege of diving deep into the mind and mission of Paul Shapiro, the visionary CEO of The Better Meat Co. and a leading advocate for sustainable food innovation. Paul's journey from an eye-opening teenage realization to founding a company at the forefront of food technology is not just inspiring; it's a roadmap for the future of food.

Paul's story begins with a profound love for animals and a shocking realization of their plight in factory farming. This early awakening spurred a lifelong mission to mitigate animal suffering and promote a plant-based lifestyle. However, it was his realization that technological innovation could offer more pragmatic solutions to these issues that led him to found The Better Meat Co. Unlike traditional approaches to meat production, Shapiro's company uses fermentation technology to transform microbes into meat within hours, offering a sustainable and humane alternative.


The journey from advocacy to entrepreneurship was fueled by Shapiro's deep understanding that while exposure to animal cruelty could sway some, a more extensive societal shift required innovative food solutions. Drawing parallels to historical shifts away from animal exploitation through technological advancements, such as the transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, Shapiro underscores the potential of food technology to revolutionize our eating habits.

The Better Meat Co. stands at the forefront of this revolution, utilizing fungi fermentation to produce mycoprotein—a sustainable, nutritious, and meat-like product. This innovative approach not only mimics the meat experience without the ethical and environmental costs but also offers a scalable solution to meet the growing global demand for protein.


Shapiro candidly shares the highs and lows of startup life, from the excitement of developing groundbreaking products to the challenges of scaling production and navigating the investment landscape. Despite the hurdles, his determination and strategic vision shine through, highlighting the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and a mission-driven approach in the competitive food technology sector.


Shapiro's message to the plant-based community and potential investors is clear: the time for action is now. With the demand for sustainable meat alternatives on the rise and the environmental and ethical implications of traditional meat production becoming increasingly untenable, investing in innovative solutions like The Better Meat Co. is not just a business opportunity; it's a chance to be part of a vital shift towards a more sustainable and compassionate food system.


For those inspired by Paul Shapiro's journey and the mission of The Better Meat Co., there are numerous ways to engage. Whether by exploring investment opportunities, reading Shapiro's influential book Clean Meat, or advocating for the inclusion of sustainable meat alternatives in local restaurants, each action contributes to a larger movement towards a healthier, more ethical, and sustainable future.


Paul Shapiro's appearance on the Plant Based on Fire podcast is more than just an interview; it's a beacon for change in how we think about food, technology, and our responsibility to the planet and its inhabitants. As we look to the future, the work of visionaries like Shapiro offers hope and a path forward for all who dream of a better world.


Together, we can keep the fire of innovation and compassion burning bright.

LISTEN TO PAUL'S INTERVIEW HERE

LISTEN TO OUR OTHER PODCASTS!


>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 (00:00.893)

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 am your host Bryan and joining us today is Paul Shapiro, CEO of the Better Meat Company and he is an author of a national bestseller and my favorite thing, a five time TEDx speaker and the host of the Business for Good podcast.


Welcome to the show, Paul. Thanks for being here.


Paul Shapiro (00:31.342)

Thanks, Bryan, really great to be with you.


Bryan (00:33.855)

I am so excited to talk to you. I have watched a couple of your TED Talks and congratulations. I'm nervous to do one, but maybe I'll do one sooner or later. But just talk to us about like your journey and like how did you get into this space and what inspired you to create the Better Meat Company?


Paul Shapiro (00:52.75)

It's a long story, Bryan, so I'm gonna really abbreviate for you, all right? So let me start. So my parents met and they had me, no, just kidding. So, all right, when, you know, look, when I was 13, I saw a video of what happens to animals on factory farms and in slaughter plants. You know, there's no YouTube or even no internet at all back then, but somebody gave me like a VHS tape of it, right?


Bryan (00:54.433)

Hahaha.


Bryan (01:01.491)

Hahaha.


Paul Shapiro (01:16.492)

And for those who are not old enough to know, a VHS was like a rectangular piece of plastic that you inserted. I can see, Brian, through some of your gray hair, I can know that you've used VHS, that you've used VHS. But anyway, imagine if you could only watch one thing instead of millions of things. That's what was on the VHS. My friend gave it to me and I watched it and I was really horrified. I loved animals. I loved my dogs. My mom worked at a local animal shelter and I just kept thinking, what if these were my dogs?


Bryan (01:21.313)

Heheheheh


Bryan (01:25.857)

Yes, I've been there, yes.


Paul Shapiro (01:46.094)

You know, it was like if these were my dogs who were having their throats slit or being confined in cages where they could barely move an inch their whole lives, there's really nothing I wouldn't do to stop that. And so I became a vegetarian. I didn't really know what a vegan was, but I read something in a piece of paper, like a pamphlet about it. I didn't, I thought it was vegan actually. I was like, what are these vegans? And I was like, yeah, this is that. So, but a few weeks later, I actually met some of these vegans who I learned were vegans and that.


Bryan (02:06.017)

Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (02:15.474)

led me to become a vegan. So this was over 30 years ago. And so I still am alive. In fact, it's kind of funny. I remember thinking at the time when you become vegan or vegan as I saw it, I remember thinking, you know, it's kind of like holding your breath. Like you can probably hold your breath for some time, but if you do it too long, you'll die. So I thought that was, you know, maybe you can go without eating animal products for some amount of time, but sure, you'll die at some point. But then I met people who had actually been doing it and


What really pushed me over the edge was there was an amazing Olympian athlete back then named Carl Lewis. And I really worshiped him. I had like a poster on my room at my parents' house when I was a teenager, Carl Lewis. And I really worshiped him. And I read this article where he talked about how being vegan was part of his success in the Olympics. And I was like, geez, like if, not just possible to do, but like the best athlete in the world, as far as I was concerned, was vegan. And I thought, okay, that's that. So.


Bryan (02:56.607)

Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (03:13.89)

It was animals who were my motivation, but then also it could give me some assurance that Carl Lewis was doing it. So I really thought back then that the best thing to do was basically expose what is happening to animals and then people would change. And so I ended up founding an organization called Compassion Over Killing, which today is called Animal Outlook.


And I ran that organization for about a decade and we did all types of things like undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughter plants where we would use hidden cameras and make documentaries about what we were doing. But eventually I came to realize that while I think it's very helpful, most people, there's like a saying that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarian. But it's obviously not true since most people who see a slaughterhouse video don't become vegetarian, right?


Bryan (04:04.705)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (04:05.966)

And so I thought, well, maybe we need more laws on the books, like we need public policies. And so I ended up becoming a lobbyist for animals and essentially for like 13 years was lobbying. And I felt very proud. We passed a number of laws to protect farmed animals, including banning some of the most extreme forms of confinement of animals in the egg industry and the pork industry. We defeated a lot of bad bills for animals. We passed a lot of good bills.


But eventually I came to then think after like 13 years of doing that, or really even maybe like eight or nine years in, I started worrying that maybe food technology and food innovation were gonna do more than what I was doing. And so if you look, Brian, at the ways in which categories of animal exploitation have been ended in the past, it's usually always through technological innovation. You look at, for millennia, we were tormenting horses to force them to carry us around. And...


you know, their big animal welfare campaigns up in 19th and 20th centuries, even the very beginning of the 20th century, but especially in the 19th century to get, you know, these horses better working conditions, watering stations, resting hours, Sabbath days where they couldn't be worked for a whole day and so on. But, you know, Henry Ford ultimately came along and liberated horses, like he did more for horses than any animal advocates did. You know, for millennial,


Bryan (05:16.211)

Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.


Bryan (05:21.505)

That's right.


Bryan (05:25.505)

Inadvertently, I don't even know if...


Paul Shapiro (05:26.67)

Right, yeah, yeah, yeah, right. I look, I'm not, I mean, look, let me be clear. Like Henry Ford was a horrible guy, you know? He loved, he loved Taylor. He was an anti -Semite. Like I'm not trying to exalt Henry Ford, but the truth is that he did a lot to help horses. And, you know, the same is so for whaling. For thousands of years, we hunted whales and for oil to whet our homes and nobody stopped hunting whales because they cared about them. They stopped because kerosene was invented. We had a cheaper way to whet our homes. For thousands of years, we live plucked geese in order to write letters.


Bryan (05:31.585)

Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (05:56.654)

Nobody stopped live plucking geese because they cared about geese. They stopped because metal fountain pens were invented. And the risk goes on and on and on. You can count all these types of animal exploitation that were ended not because of human sentiment, but really because of technological innovation. And so around 2015, 2016, I started worrying that food technology, food innovation were going to do more than what I was doing. And so I wasn't quite sure what I could do. So I thought maybe I'll write a book. So I...


Bryan (05:56.865)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (06:23.598)

got very fortunate. I never, it's kind of hebristic, like I had never published a book before, but Simon & Schuster bought the book. It's called Queen Meat, How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner in the World. And the book did dramatically better than I ever would have anticipated. And it opened up a lot of doors. It was very transformative in my life. And so I had the choice where I could continue writing about the people who I thought were going to solve this problem or just become one of them. And that's when I decided to...


Bryan (06:32.481)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (06:49.262)

with my friend Joanna Bromley, start the Better Meat Co. and six years later, we're still running it.


Bryan (06:54.561)

That's awesome. And I mean,


Paul Shapiro (06:55.598)

Yeah, that's like three decades and a few minutes there.


Bryan (06:59.361)

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously go watch the Ted talks and read the books and all that kind of good stuff. And you'll get an even deeper understanding of what what Paul has been up to here. But that really unlocks it for me, because like when I see the better when I first saw the better meat, I'm like, oh, it's one of these lab grown meats or whatever kind of thing. And then I watched your Ted talk with with the with the geese and all that stuff like you're just hinting at.


And it just like blew my mind. Like I've thought about it, but not in that kind of context. So you just shun the spotlight on it for me. I'm like, I got to get you on the podcast. We can talk about this more. So talk to us more about the better meat company. Can you explain like the fermentation and the technology and how that all works and how significant it is for the future of food?


Paul Shapiro (07:45.646)

Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (07:49.72)

Yeah, sure, Brian. So first of all, I'm an advocate for cultivated meat, which is growing real meat without animals, but that is a futuristic technology. I don't mean it's futuristic in terms of the capacity to grow it. People grow it all the time. It's like over 100 companies doing it. But I mean it's futuristic in terms of actually making a dent in the meat demand problem. Meat demand is going up, not down. Billions and billions and billions of animals are being raised for food, and the number one goes up every year. I've been vegan, as I said, for over 30 years. And...


Every single year, there've been more animals used for food than the previous year. So, you know, we gotta do something, right? What has been attempted has not been sufficient. I'm not saying it's not good, but it's just not sufficient. And so, cultivated meat is years away from making a dent in the problem still, sadly, I wish it weren't true. Plant -based meat is making some dent today. You know, companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are doing fantastic work.


Bryan (08:39.871)

Mm -hmm.


Paul Shapiro (08:46.702)

But there are a lot of limitations to using plants to make things that look like animal meat. So think about how you make it right now. You've got to grow a field of peas, harvest a field of peas, mill that into a flour, but that flour is pretty low in protein, so you've got to strip out the fiber, strip out the fat, concentrate it down into a pea protein powder. But that powder, while very protein packed, is now not textured like animal meat. So you've got to extrude it, which is a fancy way of saying lots of pressure and lots of heat.


Bryan (08:51.905)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (09:15.822)

And then you add a dozen or two more ingredients to it and you've got plant -based meat there. And so there's a lot of things that you have to do. People wonder, peas are much cheaper than beef. So why are Beyond burgers so much more expensive than beef? Well, because they're not just made out of peas. They're made out of pea protein isolate that's been extruded and then added to numerous other ingredients. So that's a lot to do. And so the question is, is there another way? We know in renewable energy, there's lots of ways to make energy without fossil fuels, wind, solar, geothermal, nuclear, et cetera.


Well, when you're trying to replicate the meat experience with animals, there's lots of ways you can do it. There's cultivating animal cells, there's isolating plant proteins, but then there's also fungi fermentation. And with fungi fermentation, which is what we do at the Better Meat Co, you can grow products that are packed with protein and that have a meat -like texture naturally, straight out of the fermenter. So you don't have to do all those downstream processes that I just enumerated with plants. And so what we do is we inoculate a fermenter with a microbial organism.


Bryan (10:09.729)

Mm -hmm, mm -hmm.


Paul Shapiro (10:13.998)

And literally 16 hours later, 16 hours later, we can harvest that and you have meat equivalent, right? You don't have to do anything to it for the most part to make it into something that is extremely proteinaceous, extremely high in fiber, very high in iron and zinc and so on. So really, like you get the things that you want from meat, protein, iron, zinc, the texture, the satiating effect, without all the things you don't want from meat, you know, not the cholesterol, the saturated fat.


Bryan (10:21.921)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (10:43.342)

the animal cruelty, all the climate changing emissions and so on. And so that is the benefit of fungi fermentation or making what's called mycoprotein is that, you know, it's like really fermenter to fork dining. You get a product that I think does a better job of mimicking the meat experience. Now, admittedly, there are many people who are probably listening to this or thinking, well, why mimic the meat experience at all? Like, why not just eat plants? And that's awesome. Like if you're happy eating lentils, more power to you. I would wish everybody would do that.


Sadly, humanity has shown that it wants meat. I hate to say it, it's kind of like saying, well, why can't we just walk and bike? Why do we need cars? Well, people like to drive and we need to make cars that don't rely on fossil fuels. We need to make EVs. Similarly, people want meat. I wish it weren't so. I wish that we were different, but people want meat. And I mean, I was giving a talk not that long ago at a veg fest and it was so sad. Literally, it was like a cartoon. There was one booth for quinoa kale wraps and there was another booth for Beyond Burgers and they were right next to each other.


Bryan (11:24.257)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (11:41.454)

And even at a veg test, people who were interested in vegetarian eating, the line for the Beyond Burgers was probably half an hour long, whereas there was no line at the Elder One. So I just think you gotta accept human nature as it is, as flawed as we are, and that's why we have to create meat experiences that don't involve animals.


Bryan (11:47.585)

That's right.


Bryan (11:58.561)

I yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm a big, I've become a big fan of the mushrooms as I got into the vegan diet for sure. And the mushrooms can simulate a lot of that stuff. The lion's mane and all that stuff. But I agree with you. And I think like the standard American diet and just the American culture as well, you know, and that's what I started real many plants all about is because masculinity is tied to this meat and this sensation and we have to change the narrative. So.


Paul Shapiro (12:10.478)

Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (12:25.294)

Yeah. Yeah, but it's, yeah, I agree with everything you just said, Brian, but I'll just augment it by saying it's not just America, it's everywhere. I mean, look at China, India, they have millions of people who are thankfully escaping poverty and joining the middle class. And the first thing they do is start eating more meat. That's the first thing they do. I mean, people, right, like generally people are going to eat about as much meat as they can afford to eat. Now there are many people like you and me who,


Bryan (12:29.279)

and


Bryan (12:42.657)

Yeah, right. Like the China study has shown over and over, right? Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (12:53.006)

I'd be thrilled if I came to your house and you offered me lion's mane, I'd be overjoyed. But sadly, and first of all, lion's mane is dramatically more expensive than animal meat. But second, it's not a replacement for meat. Like nobody's gonna eat it and think I can't tell the difference and it has no protein. So there's a lot of hurdles to trying to use the fruiting bodies of mushrooms to replace meat. That's why mycoprotein are growing what's called mycelium or the root -like structure of fungi is so good because...


Bryan (12:57.217)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (13:21.23)

you get a meat like texture with all of that protein as well. I mean, the myco protein that we grew at the Better Meat Co has more protein than eggs. It's got more iron than beef, more zinc than beef, more protein than eggs. It's a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. I mean, it really is like a superfood.


Bryan (13:25.121)

That's awesome. So how is...


Bryan (13:40.737)

That's right, that's awesome. And so how has the market responded to your products, especially in that traditional meat eater space?


Paul Shapiro (13:48.558)

Yeah, people love it. Like we make steaks out of this mycoprotein and became the first non -animal steak to ever go on a steakhouse menu in the United States. That's how good it was and is. And people really love it. The problem is that, you know, right now there's a bit of a famine period in alternative meats and alternative proteins in general. There's less investment in the space. Demand has waned to some extent because of inflation.


since these products are more expensive than animal meat and inflationary times, I mean, people are gonna spend less on these higher priced products. So those are all problems right now that affect not just us, but the entirety, like even if you look at Beyond Meat, they've really struggled in the last couple of years, in part because of inflation and some of these other things, but smaller companies like mine at the Better Meat Co, it's tougher to do everything from raise capital to procure agreements and more.


Bryan (14:42.689)

Absolutely. So let's unpack some of this because a lot of the people I talk to in like the plant -based coaching and the world that I'm in for that are trying to get into this food space. So what are some of the challenges and the opportunities in scaling up production to meet the demand that's going to come?


Paul Shapiro (15:02.958)

Well, it's hard to get money for CapEx, for capital expenditures right now. Like if you were raising money in, let's say you wanted to found a company and try to raise money in 2021, the capital was far more free flowing. You could find people who want to invest in this space. Today in 2024, that is not necessarily the case. And so you have to find other ways of funding what you want to do, whether it's grants, loans, equipment financing, self -financing and others.


Or you can try to do something that's less capital intensive, right? Like, running a microprotein fermentation costs a lot of money because you have to buy these huge stainless steel fermenters and you need steam, you need air compression. Like there's a lot of stuff you've got to do to pay for the startup costs. Once you're running, the operating expenses aren't that high, but the startup cost is high for the equipment that you need.


All of that said, if I were starting a company today, I probably would be trying to start something that was less dependent on venture capital because we're in a period of famine of venture capital where these deals are really gone down. They're not non -existent, but they're rare compared to what they were.


Bryan (16:11.361)

Mm -hmm.


Yep. Yep.


Paul Shapiro (16:17.154)

I remember in 2021, every week you'd be hearing about somebody raising 10 million here, 50 million there, 100 million there. It was really, it was like an incredible time. You just thought, wow, these trees are gonna grow to the sky. But of course, trees don't grow to the sky, they stop. And right now there is a bit of a shrink.


Bryan (16:23.009)

That's right.


Bryan (16:29.087)

Yeah.


Bryan (16:35.745)

Yeah, I mean, the interest rates are just astronomical right now. So we've got to figure that out for sure.


Paul Shapiro (16:39.63)

Yeah, I should have mentioned that that's another big problem is that with high interest rates, basically people who have a lot of money who would be investing in startups can find safer ways to invest. Most startups fail, it's like a 90 % mortality rate. And so the goal for these venture investors is to have a few that succeed wildly to offset the losses from the majority that fail. And if you can get guaranteed 5 % in treasury bills, you know.


Bryan (16:51.553)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (17:08.364)

It's not that bad of a thing, right? Those people who have money would rather get a guaranteed 5 % than take the risk. And you have some really savvy investors who think that they can do better than the market. But it's hard to turn down guaranteed free money, which is what treasury bills are right now.


Bryan (17:08.737)

That's right.


Bryan (17:18.049)

That's right.


Bryan (17:29.857)

That's right, yeah. So this is a call out to all you billionaire vegans out there. Come take the risk, jump in to companies like Paul and help us change the world. So what.


Paul Shapiro (17:39.532)

Yeah.


Yeah, I what I would say on that, like I totally agree with you, Bryan but I would say is the following. You know, there are a lot of people who are accustomed to making philanthropic contributions because they want to help animals and they want to promote vegan eating or whatever their motivation is. When you make a philanthropic donation, that's fantastic, but you know you're not going to get a return on that, right? Like you might get a tax write -off, but that's it. That's all you're going to get is a tax write -off. You might get a social return where you feel good knowing what you accomplished.


Bryan (18:04.833)

Yep. Yep.


Paul Shapiro (18:11.502)

but is 100 % chance you're gonna lose 100 % of your money. Whereas if you make an investment in startups that are out there that could be even more effective than the charity you were thinking about donating to, you might get a return, maybe you won't. But the worst case scenario is that you won't get a return which you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. So I'm not saying not to donate to charities. Obviously I think it's good to donate to charities. I'm just thinking if you think about investments in startups that way, it seems less risky because your alternative would have been losing all the money anyway.


Bryan (18:27.905)

That's right.


Bryan (18:39.809)

I agree completely because I mean, I do some micro investing myself to a degree and I like to say I'm putting the money out there. I'm trying to be the change I need to see in the world, but I want to put my money out in as many places as I can. So when one of those one out of 10 hits, I can get a return and dump it back in. So.


Paul Shapiro (18:55.438)

Yeah, I hope you've put money in the next Nvidia, Brian. That would be awesome. Yeah.


Bryan (19:00.801)

That's right. Me too. Me too. So talk to us about, you know, the future of the Better Meat Co. What are you working on? What are some of the new products and developments? What's on the horizon?


Paul Shapiro (19:14.254)

The biggest problem for us is scale. We have an amazing crop, this mycoprotein that is such a great way to mimic the meat experience, that does a better job than plants for less money. And if we could scale this, it is not only an extremely valuable business, but it could really be among the best things to have ever happened for animals. And so for us, we need to scale. The demand for our product vastly exceeds our supply right now.


I liken it to, when you're in fermentation, it's kind of like having a farm, or fermenter is a farm, and instead of crops, we're growing microbes. And imagine if you had one acre and you could produce this really magical crop that could solve so many world problems. And the demand, you add 50 ,000 acres worth of demand, but you only add one acre to produce. That's what we face at the Better Meat Co. right now. The demand is astronomical, the supply is quite finite.


And so we need to build a much, much bigger facility. We can do that in the Midwest of the United States, or we could do it in another part of the world, like Asia or India, et cetera. We're open to any of those options. We wouldn't do it in California, probably. It's just too expensive to do it here. But so we're looking for partners who can help us scale, who can help us build something 20 times bigger than what we currently have. And that's just the start. That's just the start.


Bryan (20:36.993)

That's right.


Bryan (20:40.545)

I love it. So let's help the other entrepreneurs that are watching this a little bit. What has been the biggest challenge in founding and growing a startup in this alternative protein space?


Paul Shapiro (20:50.734)

He he.


Every day, Brian, I feel like Sisyphus pushing the border up the hill. So, you know, there's a funny line from a good book from Ben Horowitz, one of the co -founders of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital fund. And he says, and he has this book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things. And he says that when you found your own company, you will sleep like a baby because you will wake up every two hours and cry. And so...


Bryan (20:56.897)

Yeah


Bryan (21:16.865)

Hahaha!


Paul Shapiro (21:17.902)

You know, that's definitely like how I feel and I'm gonna show you something. People can see this video, right? It's not just audio or is that not true? Okay, so let me see if I can get this real quick. I would love to show you this cool thing. So I said I feel like Sisyphus, you know, like pushing the boulder up the hill. So I had commissioned this artwork that I keep on my desk. I'm gonna show you a photo of it since I'm not at my desk, but this is what I keep on my desk. Can you see that?


Bryan (21:24.385)

Yeah. Mm -hmm. Yep.


Paul Shapiro (21:47.438)

It's Sisyphus finally triumphant. And so he's finally got the border to the top of the hill. And so anyway, the point is that that's what I envision. And that's what I want to bring into the world is Sisyphus finally triumphant. There's so many problems. It's so difficult all the time. A lot of the times people think about startup foundership and if they glorify it and romanticize it, I could just tell you it's hard. It's very hard. But what makes it worth it is one, of course, the mission that you're


Bryan (21:47.615)

Yeah.


I love it!


Paul Shapiro (22:17.55)

seeking to achieve something quite great. In my case, hopefully a desire to end a huge amount of violence against animals. And second, I love people I work with. It's like every day you're fighting with these people in the trenches to try to bring something out of nothing. So look, I don't want to evade your question. You've asked what are the toughest things. People who say they're going to invest and they don't. People who say that they're going to...


Bryan (22:30.817)

That's right.


Paul Shapiro (22:45.39)

you know, come work for you and then don't. People who leave who you want to stay, you know, ingredients, ingredient vendors who don't get you the product on time. You equipment breaking that then costs you a lot of money to fix. And then the supplier doesn't want to honor the warranty. I mean, it's like, it's a never ending thing. Every day I come home, my wife is like, what was the worst thing that happened today? I don't even tell her. She's like, hey, welcome home. What was the worst thing that happened?


Bryan (22:51.167)

Yeah.


Bryan (22:58.913)

That's right.


Bryan (23:10.145)

That's right. Yeah.


Paul Shapiro (23:13.774)

And I can assure you, it's a hard thing to do. But that said, there are many really fantastic highs of it. I don't wanna make it seem like I'm some martyr suffering here. There are many fantastic highs that I'm very honored to be able to do this.


Bryan (23:17.793)

And as.


Bryan (23:23.617)

That's right.


Bryan (23:27.041)

Absolutely, I absolutely love it and I can't agree with you more just because like as a fractional CTO myself or as a business coach, like I tell people all the time, plan for the unexpected business continuity has to be on your radar because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. And I have been right there even just trying to get this podcast off the ground, waking up at 6am like I've got this idea. I can't sleep anymore. I just got to go get it down on paper. I'm worried about this or that so.


Paul Shapiro (23:44.366)

Yeah.


Bryan (23:56.193)

Yeah, so I think that that perseverance and that pressure of a startup definitely helps people. Is there any other quick bits of advice for other entrepreneurs that, you know, they must take this into account? I think an aspiring piece of artwork is a great idea. I know for several of the businesses I've built in the past, you know, I saw a piece of art on vacation and I bought it and I said, like, this is my motivation for this business now. So I love that.


Paul Shapiro (24:12.778)

Oh yeah, I love it.


Paul Shapiro (24:21.742)

Nice. Yeah, that's cool. Yeah, I this one, I thought surely somebody must have drawn Sisyphus triumphant and nobody had it. I looked all over. So I basically commissioned a guy on Upwork to do it and he did a great job. This guy in Mexico and he did an awesome job. But anyway, I had it printed and it's on my desk. Yeah, the number one thing that I would suggest is just literally one word, start.


Bryan (24:32.703)

Wow.


Bryan (24:39.337)

Very cool.


Paul Shapiro (24:47.726)

Like that's it. Like too many people, they start, they have like analysis paralysis. Um, and they're like, Oh, I need to read all these books first and whatever. It's like, you know, imagine like somebody says to you, Hey, Brian, I want to become a great soccer player. You're not going to say, okay, well, here are the books on soccer that you need to read. You get on the field and you start practicing. And I just think like, you know, you, nothing substitutes for experience and you just have to start and you're going to make mistakes. Obviously everybody does, but.


Bryan (25:05.217)

That's right. That's right.


Paul Shapiro (25:15.758)

you've got to actually get out there and start. And that doesn't mean go out there not knowing anything. Like when I started this company, I talked to tons of people who had started companies before, but successful and failed. And I would ask them, why'd you fail? Or why'd you succeed? So anyway, I'm all for talking to people, getting their advice and so on, but mainly it's just start.


Bryan (25:23.233)

That's right.


Bryan (25:29.569)

That's right.


Bryan (25:36.609)

That's right. Yep, I agree completely. If you've got the idea, start doing those customer discovery calls and figure it out really. So I guess the most important question is, where are you at? What can we do as a community to help you? How do we get in touch? And where can I get this in the Charlotte area?


Paul Shapiro (25:59.214)

Okay, lots of questions there. So let me go sequentially. First and foremost, we're accepting new investors. If you want to own a piece of the Better Meat Co, I'd love to hear from you. You can message us, just go to our website, bettermeat .co. Again, that's bettermeat .co. Second, if you're interested in reading my book, I'd love for you to read it. Again, it's called Clean Meat. The website for it is cleanmeat .com, but you can buy it anywhere books are sold, Amazon, et cetera. And there's a new edition coming out in April of 2024.


That'll be a paperback edition put out by Simon & Schuster, so it'll be an updated edition of the book. Third, you can currently buy products with better meat ingredients throughout California, but nothing to my knowledge in North Carolina, but we love you to try our steak. That's really the best thing I think that we make. It's really a fantastic steak. And so if you're a restaurateur and you're thinking, I want to offer a really awesome animal -free steak on your menu, please contact us.


bettermeat .co, we'd love to work with you.


Bryan (27:00.225)

Very, very cool, absolutely. So come on people, get those on the menu. Reach out to Paul at bettermeat .co and is there anything else the community can do to help besides that, those couple things?


Paul Shapiro (27:15.534)

That's a lot of requests out there, so I'll leave it at that, Brian, but I appreciate everything that everyone who's listening is doing to help animals. They need all the advocates they can get. And so if you're one of them, people who's trying to give a voice to the voiceless, my gratitude goes out to you.


Bryan (27:29.889)

I love it. Well, that is all the time we have for this episode of the Plant Based on Fire podcast. Thank you again so much, Paul, for being here, joining us, sharing your insights and experiences with our community. Until next time, everybody, keep that fire burning.


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