Nov 14, 2017
I'm considering founding a plant-based meat startup and would love to be connected to anyone who is interested in further researching this with me (bio at the end). I’m currently researching this option primarily with Daniel Gastfriend and Joan Gass, two grad students at Harvard and Stanford who are also considering it, so replying to this post will introduce you to a group of individuals exploring this idea.
To be clear, I'm in the very early stages of researching options and I may do other things, depending on how promising it looks. If I do pursue this option, I’ll finish my masters program in May 2018 and plan on working on it after that.
I'm highly uncertain about what product to create and expect that my ideas will change considerably as I learn more. However, I lean towards doing:
Chicken or fish, unless a great opportunity elsewhere emerges, due to the greater suffering of animals caused by these products
Plant-based meats, as opposed to clean meat or cell cultured products, due to my perception of scientific feasibility and time horizons
Products with a high counterfactual impact (i.e. products that appeal to meat eaters and flexitarians, as opposed to vegans and vegetarians)
Meats that have a high profit margin, as this will be more likely to be profitable and scalable
Meats that could plausibly be replicated with tasty & cost-competitive plants
Institutional sales, as opposed to selling directly to consumers, due to a more favorable industry analysis
Products unlikely to be created through cell cultured alternatives in the near term
We’re open to help from anyone who is interested, no relevant background necessary. I'm especially excited about people who meet any of the following criteria, but don’t feel put off if you don’t meet many of them (or any!):
Work/academic experience in food science, cellular agriculture, animal issues, or any food-related field
Share EA values
Have done “big” things before, i.e. have a demonstrated track record of impact and success. This can be in any field.
Have demonstrated “grit.” This means that you have done very hard things over a sustained period of time.
Prior experience with startups, venture capital, or entrepreneurship
Public speaking, writing, marketing, and/or media skills
Social skills, management experience, and/or able to work well with people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets
People who I would personally work well with - I’m very nice/fun/cool, I promise! :)
If you would consider doing a project like this, please shoot me an email at scott dot weathers at mail dot harvard dot edu or send me a message on Facebook. If possible, please provide a bit of information about how strongly you are considering this idea, when you’d want to do it, and any other ideas you may have!
Lastly, please also share with your friends and colleagues, as it has very high expected value.
About Me: I’m currently a grad student in global health at Harvard. I’ve helped start a GiveWell incubation non-profit that focuses on SMS reminders for vaccines and convinced Congressional Republicans to support global health legislation during the Obama administration. This past spring, I coauthored an open letter on factory farming to the WHO, which earned nearly 300 expert signatories and was published in the New York Times. My work has been published or discussed in the New York Times, Guardian, Vox, Huffington Post, NowThis, and more. You can get a sense of my resume on LinkedIn and the things I think about on Twitter.