In late 2020, Josh Tetrick achieved a world first: His food tech company, Eat Just, became the first to start selling cultured chicken for human consumption after receiving the go-ahead from Singapore regulators.
The landmark approval marks a significant leap forward for the multibillion-dollar company as it aims to disrupt the established animal agriculture industry. But it wasn’t an easy journey, insisted the founder of the nine-year-old company, who had four pieces of advice to share with other would-be entrepreneurs.
First, it’s essential to be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re committed to a life of entrepreneurship. “If you want to have a peaceful life, don’t do this,” said Tetrick, noting that running a business can often be all-consuming. “Be honest with yourself if you want to do it, and it’s wonderful if it’s not for you.”
Next, find techniques to build resilience, so you aren’t deterred when faced with challenges. “Bad things will happen to you,” he said, citing uncommitted employees, unsupportive investors, and delayed product launches.
“The way to deal with it is not to wallow in the sadness of it; it’s to deal with it directly,” he continued. “That’s a hard muscle to build because it’s straightforward to be taken away by a negative thing that happens and let it affect you the next day. So, you’ve got to figure out some way to build that resilience.”
Establish transparent governance:—-
Thirdly, establish a transparent governance system to determine who in the company makes decisions and when— advice Tetrick said he wished he had received earlier. In 2017, Eat Just’s entire board was replaced following disagreements with the CEO over governance. “There’s no right way to set up corporate governance, but it should be a way that reflects the kind of company that you’re trying to build,” said the entrepreneur.
“For us, this is a big bet company,” he added. “I have no interest in selling to Nestle, and I have no interest in staying private. Ultimately, we’re going to be a public company and I need to ensure that my team and ultimately that I have the autonomy to make these decisions.”
Solve a real problem:—-
Finally, said Tetrick, make sure you are tackling a real problem. “We have too many urgent problems that you can see out of your front door — in your nearest ocean, the air that you’re breathing in, the food that’s on your plate — to start a company that doesn’t focus on solving a real problem,” he said.
“It’s easy to convince ourselves that something’s a real problem that’s actually not,” he continued. “Focus your energy on solving real problems and it’ll make the pain you have to deal with a little bit easier to bear.”