The Social Innovation Podcast was joined by Fengru Lin, the Founder, and CEO of TurtleTree. TurtleTree believes that “Food should nourish and delight.” They envision “a world where people, animals, and the planet no longer have to pay the price for the meals on our table…”
Some of the topics that Fengru covered included:
- Working at Salesforce and Google prior to starting TurtleTree
- Learning how to make cheese
- Listening to a speech her co-Founder Max gave at Google
- Filed for patents in 2019 and then founded TurtleTree
- How the cow population has remained constant but milk output rose by almost 50%
- How the health of your gut impacts the health of your whole body
- In the novel food space, 50 to 60% of COGS goes to energy
- The process for painlessly extracting mammary cells from cows and then creating milk
- Singapore as a launchpad for the rest of Asia
- Launching products with FMCG companies
- TurtleTree’s funding status and talking to investors
Some other titles we considered for this episode:
- Singapore Had No Cows
- It Was Mind-blowing for Me
- No One Said We Were Crazy
- The Mozzarella Wouldn’t Stretch
- We Get to Be Responsible from Day One
- We Want to Be Where the Talent Is
- How Many More Cows Can We Raise?
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:02
Michael Waitze Media. Telling Asia’s Stories.
Hi, this is Michael Waitze and welcome back to the Social Innovation Podcast. Today we are joined by Fengru Lin, the founder and the CEO at TurtleTree. Fengru, Thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s great to have you here. I was gonna ask you, how are you? But I really want to ask you, where are you?
Fengru Lin 0:29
Hi, Michael. I’m great doing wonderful. We just wrapped up a whole week of strategy meetings here in Davis, California, where our global R&D HQ is
Michael Waitze 0:40
Davis California. Can you just give me an idea of like, where Davis is in relation to other things in California that I may know about?
Fengru Lin 0:47
Sure. So we are about one hour from San Francisco towards the direction of Tahoe. Okay. So just quite close to Sacramento. If you’re familiar. Yeah. So, so good spot, because it’s very close where UC Davis is. Yeah. If you’re not familiar, UC Davis is one of the best agricultural schools in the country. And they have best milk teams in a world.
Michael Waitze 1:13
I did not know that. I did not know. How did you know that?
Fengru Lin 1:17
So my co founder, Max, he happens to be a alumni of UC Davis, although he did Computer Engineering back in the day, but he’s always been an Aggie
Michael Waitze 1:28
Look, before we go any further, because I feel like I could go down this road for a while. I want to get a little bit of your background for some context.
Fengru Lin 1:35
Sure. So I’m Singaporean born and raised. My background was actually in tech. I used to work for Salesforce, Google…My co founder, Max and I, we started this company about three and a half years ago. We have a big team in Singapore about 15, folks, maybe 12 months ago, we set up our global R&D HQ, here in Davis, California. And we’re just setting up another lab in Boston, x, we’re expanding to the talent that is there as well.
Michael Waitze 2:03
Yeah, Boston. I think people forget that before Silicon Valley became superduper, famous, you had some pretty amazing companies built in Boston, or outside of Boston, for the same reason, actually, that it happens in Silicon Valley, because of Harvard, MIT tufts, and all the universities that are there, you had this road called route 128. And at one point, it was actually called the information highway. That was where Lotus was founded and a bunch of other Yeah, you don’t know this, right? Oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. Actually, if you go back to like the mid to late 80s. And early 90s, there was a bunch of tech companies that got founded in and around there. So in a way, you’re kind of going home, but we’ll get to that in a second. How did you get from Google and Salesforce into this space?
Fengru Lin 2:48
That’s a fun question to answer. So a couple of years ago, I was learning how to make cheese as a hobby. It was it was fanatic, I went up to Vermont, upstate New York for a couple of a couple of weeks to learn how to make cheese. And I wanted to replicate this whole process back in Singapore back in Asia. But obviously Singapore had no cows, no agriculture. So I had to go down to Indonesia, or Thailand to look for sources of raw fresh milk. And in the journey, I was exposed to things like contract farming, to hormones and antibiotics that are being permitted accounts. And for me, it was very apparent that the milk quality suffers as a result that the cheese would stretch, there’s not enough calcium into cheese. After that, I gave up that whole cheese idea. And I’m still working at Google at that point in time. And that was when I met my co founder, Max. He was in my office in Google on stage sharing about different transformative technologies. He was talking about companies like Memphis meats and blue Nalu. This was like maybe four or five years ago. And these companies were transformative. They were using cells to make meat and seafood without going to the animal. So it was mind blowing for me. After the chat. We started discussing about using similar methods to make milk. And we started to bounce these ideas off our scientists, friends, we spoke to different industry players. And one resounding response that we got was yeah, it’s it’s absolutely plausible. It’s it can be done. No one said we were crazy. So we started to put in a lot of research. And in 2019, we found our first patterns and that was when I left my job and started a company
Michael Waitze 4:37
So the the crazy part or the not being crazy part. I completely understand that there’s this idea right that you’re a kid you excel in middle school, you excel in high school, you excel in university, and then you get a job at Salesforce or a job at Google. It’s not a be all and end all. But boy, it does point to a real amount of success. right and your family’s happy your friends are proud of you. What is it like when you just make this decision to say, kind of everything I’ve worked for up until today, I’m just going to give up. And I’m literally going to start from zero because starting your own company is hard, right? And everybody knows it. And most people don’t know exactly how hard it is, but they feel like they do. And they’re like, now you’re crazy, right?
Fengru Lin 5:23
Yeah, it was, it was hard. My mom cried. She was like running Google. So the thing is, we, we didn’t really I didn’t jump into this. Out of out of sudden, we it was a trend. There was a transition period, we tested the ideas across the industry. We talked to advisors in the space, we talked to investors, we talked to potential customers. And there was real interest in in the product that we are proposing. And I did every proposing. And to the scientists it was it was not crazy. It was something that could be done. That different research has been done over the years, focused on certain parts of the process that we are proposing. And for us, we want to string this whole process together and do it in a large scale manufacturing. And I think all this different doors that kept opening gave me the confidence that it was okay to leave my job and need to focus on this full time.
Michael Waitze 6:23
Can I really want to understand this process from sort of technical standpoint, I want to back up to something you said earlier. You said that and use I think pretty specific language, you said that they were pumping antibiotics into the cattle? Why do they do this? And what’s the impact on the milk that actually gets generated from a cow that has all these antibiotics in it?
Fengru Lin 6:46
Tell you guys a fun statistic. So over the past 20 years, the cow population globally has remained constant, he hasn’t increased. But mill you yield over the past 20 years increased by 40 to 60%. And that is true, true raising the cow to get him to be bigger, and also getting them to produce more milk. And the dairy industry. I mean, it’s it’s not the fault of the farmer, they’re just trying to feed the world. They’re doing what they’re doing, we’re consuming dairy. And they’re just just supplying what what the demand is asking for. So as a result, I think antibiotics is one of the things that they could put into the cows to get them to produce more milk. And when you do that, I think some of the milk quality really suffers. There is a lack of calcium, especially in areas where there is high, high antibiotics pumped into the cows. And you can tell from making mozzarella, for example, the mozzarella wouldn’t stretch. And I would try to hack it right. I’ll try to add calcium chloride to fortify it. But but it still wouldn’t work. So you could tell like, the milk quality is definitely not like what we have in Vermont.
Michael Waitze 8:00
And are you a scientist by training? You sound very interested in the science?
Fengru Lin 8:05
No, not a scientist. person.
Michael Waitze 8:09
But I m
ean, you’re doing chemistry, right? If you’re adding what do you say calcium? What do you what do you say?
Fengru Lin 8:13
All right. All right. Cool.
Michael Waitze 8:17
I don’t know. School. Yeah, when I was a kid, I just loved chemistry. So just adding these little chemicals. And it just sounds really interesting to me. And we should mention this too, right? So you said that it’s not the farmers fault. And they’re just trying to sort of keep up with the growth in demand for milk. And this is interesting, right? Because, and again, hard for people of a certain age to understand this. But in the last 20 years, you’ve had a massive change in the way the world itself is actually structured and works, right. So India, which has 1.2 billion people is just getting wealthier on a day to day basis, which means that their food consumption patterns change China, same thing over the last 30 years maybe. And now Africa as well with another one point something billion people. So just say 3.6 or 3.7 billion people are changing their eating habits. And when that happens, they eat more beef, drink more milk, and eat more bread. Right. Now rice, I know is a staple of food in Asia. So fair enough. But somehow food production has to keep up with that. Is that Is that fair?
Fengru Lin 9:22
That’s that’s fair to say. And I think in the novel food space, we see companies like impossible, companies only doing tremendously. They are helping us to change the mindset of consumers, opening them up to delicious new products that would provide them the same different tastes and different options. And I think when we talk about cultivated meat or cultivated milk, it’s more about providing people the same food product that they’re used to just without harming animal and I’ll explain why. Impossible is actually based burger, so nutritionally, is different than real meat. And when we talk about real meat, the different amino acids, the different protein profile, these are really important for human health. And it’s just really difficult, almost impossible for plant based versions to replicate that. And remember, talking about milk, milk is very functional. When you fast milk, when you are able to make the cheeses, all these things require the full composition of milk. And they are also very highly valuable ingredients that are found in milk like lactoferrin, like alpha lactalbumin, all these ingredients are good for your gut, good for your gut brain axis. And these are not replicable through plant based methods. So the work that we are doing is different than possible. It’s providing people the same nutritional food that you’re used to. So
Michael Waitze 10:59
you raise this point about the gut. Again, I love the way you say it kind of in passing, right, but I don’t think a lot of people understand. And sure, you can say like the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Yeah, it’s kind of it’s a neat little phrase, but the reality is that the health of your gut, and maybe you can explain why can also drive the health of a whole bunch of different parts of your body, including your brain, and maybe you can just walk us through that a little bit as well.
Fengru Lin 11:23
So when we say you should trust your gut feeling real, I can do a little plug here. If you look at the telemetry website, we have a blog section. And we have a scientific, few scientific papers or research that talks to how the gut affects our brain, how that affects our skin, our overall health. So really, the microbiome in your gut, can affect different parts of your body. And this is why I think these days, when we’re talking about immunity, about boosting your health, it’s about eating right. It’s about getting the right prebiotics, probiotics into your body, so to interact with the food, and gives you the best immunity against diseases and so on.
Michael Waitze 12:11
Really interesting. And I wanted to share this with you too. So because of the pandemic, over the past six or so months, I’ve had to eat out a lot, actually order in a lot to be fair. And I’ve been never been as unfit as I am today. And I can feel it and I feel tired. And I think it’s because I don’t know, right? I’m not a scientist. And I definitely don’t know what you know, but I feel like it’s because of the food that I’ve been eating. And its impact on my entire body, which starts with my gut like, am I having the right feeling here? Or am I just making this up?
Fengru Lin 12:48
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. So I can’t really speak to why or how. But in general, I think when it comes to overall health, your gut is really important. I think these days with the crops like kombucha products like prebiotic drains, if you go to supermarkets in the US, they have little health boosting shots, like an immunity shot of tumeric, and so on. So all of these better for your gut products are super important. In fact, when we’re talking about lactoferrin, that one protein that is found in milk, you can Google it, there’s research online that talks to how it can even help to prevent COVID. Yes, that’s right. So there’s actually a lot of functional benefits that can be found in milk.
Michael Waitze 13:35
So again, you referenced something that I wanted to bring up, right, we talk a lot on some of my other shows, whether it’s the InsurTech podcast or just the general tech podcast that I do about financial literacy, because you know, to improve your financial health, right, and also financial inclusion. But I hear very little conversation about sort of nutritional literacy or food literacy. I think most people eat and have no idea what they’re ingesting. And how does turtle tree affect this besides, like the blog is super great. Was the idea there to help increase this food literacy and nutritional literacy for people so that they understood more about what was going into their body? And should you do more of this? Do you know what I mean?
Fengru Lin 14:18
Yeah, absolutely. The block is really to help educate consumers prep them for when to go to the supermarket, they’re able to make more conscious choices. And I think we’re just with today’s advancement of easy grab and go lunches, grab and go. food products. We are more and more losing sense of where our food comes from Hawaii, possibly good for us. So yeah, I think it’s about conscious eating and cheering total tree. We want to start educating consumers on how that can look like
Michael Waitze 14:55
they I think it’s really important and let me give you a perfect example this whole life pal, which is an insurance and insurance tech company based in Indonesia, they started their own blog as well, they have 4 million monthly active users. And on Instagram, they have 500,000 subscribers, because they’re just telling people about financial literacy. But I think there’s a massive gap like I want to know. Should I eat kale? You know, what is a prebiotic? Like? I don’t know. And I should know this. I could tell you every last detail about like the financial services system. Yeah. Which is helpful, but not nearly as helpful as what’s a prebiotic, what should I be eating, which I do every single day? Right. So I love the idea that you’re doing this. And I do. Remember, we talked earlier, I think that every company should be a tech company, and a media company. And I love the fact that you’re building this media out, because I think it’s really important for people to be informed, as well. When you back up, and you think about, okay, I left my job, I think this is really important. What do you look at as like the overall impact of what a company like turtle tree is going to have? Or that you want to have?
Fengru Lin 15:59
Yeah, so I’m actually reading Paul, Coleman’s new book at the moment, but I think the title of the book is net positive, positive. Yeah. It’s all about how companies should present a more positive stakeholder responsibility, not just for shareholders responsibility. Yeah, yeah. Right. I think a lot of companies, when they talk about responsibili
ty, they say, oh, yeah, we’re gonna buy some carbon emissions. And it’s not not good enough, you need to buy carbon emissions or be carbon negative, and should pass zero to a positive to make that difference. And I think that’s where the whole new wave of companies like toto tree, we’re quite fortunate to be able to start on a clean slate. So every decision that we make today, we can make that change. Now, it’s not like we have a whole legacy of, of businesses that we need to change. So now we get to pick the right technologies, we get to pick the right partners, the right sources of of ingredients, we get to be responsible from day one, this is what drives total tree.
Michael Waitze 17:07
You’re right, like big companies like Apple, Google, whoever they are, they make these gigantic announcements about okay, from now on, we’re gonna be like net carbon zero. And you’re right, they do do so they buy some carbon credits, which is, which is nice, right? It’s, it’s a good effort. But when you’re building a company from scratch, can you talk maybe a little bit more for me about what these decisions are that you make where you say, we could do a, but we’re gonna go do B instead. Because this is better, not just for the product that we’re creating. But for the way that we’re actually creating that product in the factory that we build, or in the, you know, the r&d headquarters that we have.
Fengru Lin 17:41
When we’re talking about manufacturing, in a novel space, about 50 to 60% of the cost of goods sold goes into energy cost. So a lot of energy to converting sugar or whatever nutrients into food. So when we pick a large scale manufacturing palette aside, but large scale manufacturing, one of the key decision factors to which country which state, which city, is the access to renewable energy, got it. So it’s crucial for us, I think, today, it’s difficult to find a spot where it’s 100%, renewable energy, we want to have that option. And we need to have space to be able to expand to solar power, or hydropower, and so on.
Michael Waitze 18:27
That is so super cool. Really cool. Can you talk a little bit more sorry, I just really excited because when you do start from zero, right, you get to make all these really sort of small but very significant, nuanced decisions about, are we just going to plug this into the grid? Or are we just going to try to live up to our own ideals about sustainability? And say, hey, where can we get the best solar power? Where can we get the best wind power? And even if it’s not perfect, at least we’re moving in that direction, right? Because as a philosophy for the company, if part of its sustainability, it’s just neat that you’re making all these little decisions along the way, as well, particularly from an energy perspective, I want to get an idea about the tech if you can talk about it in a little bit more detail. Right? In other words, if you start with nothing, right, so you sitting there on day one, and there’s a cow over there, how do you get milk without milking the cow or doing any of that kind of stuff? I don’t understand.
Fengru Lin 19:30
Sure. So our method is really novel. And we do have different technologies to be able to produce milk, and also milk ingredients. But here, maybe I would, I would explain the full composition of milk through the memory cells. So if we have a Z out there, we’re gonna we’re gonna have an extraction of her cell. And this memory cell
Michael Waitze 19:55
are two memories. Okay, that’s what I wanted. So yeah,
Fengru Lin 19:57
so the memory cell would be exposed to different nutrients, vitamins, minerals, that would cause the cells to lactate out for milk. And this process, it’s just like what happens in a cow. But we’re just taking it out of college and putting it in a giant steel tank, and letting this process happened.
Michael Waitze 20:20
Sorry, I’m just amazed by this, I want to make sure that I understand this. So you take a cow, and then you take some cells, I presume that this is painless to the cow.
Fengru Lin 20:31
Now we take a small sample of the memory cell.
Michael Waitze 20:34
And then you take those, I’m sure you take a few of them. And then you take those cells, and you sort of encourage them with some other technology to lactate, which means to produce milk. And then you just create this milk and how long can those cells lasts and then produce milk?
Fengru Lin 20:52
Once we marginalize them, they can be lactated for up to 200 cycles.
Michael Waitze 20:56
And how much milk gets produced for each cycle? Sorry, go ahead.
Fengru Lin 21:00
immortalizing, the cell means I’m getting them to produce over and over again. I think naturally, cells go through like maybe a couple of cycles, by mobilizing them can get them to do that for a longer period of time.
Michael Waitze 21:13
Just so interesting. Are there other people also doing this in the milk space? Like I’ve heard a lot of people doing this in the in the meatspace. Right for, for cows in particular. But other other people doing this in the milk space as well? I haven’t heard of this before.
Fengru Lin 21:27
Sure. There’s one company in North Carolina and one in Israel. Total tree is the temporary leader in the space.
Michael Waitze 21:32
I got it. And is there a reason why you’re globalizing this business? So you said you’re from Singapore, but your your headquarters is in Davis, you’re doing this in Boston as well. What’s the idea around all this movement outside of Singapore and globally as well? It’s talent,
Fengru Lin 21:48
we want to be where the talent is. So we’re in UC Davis, because they have found the best book teams in the world. And we have a lot of collaborations with them. In Boston, I think, if I’m not wrong, I think statistics show that 70 to 80% of all biotech investments, globally goes into Boston.
Michael Waitze 22:08
See, it’s amazing,
Fengru Lin 22:11
right, because of that, the talent pool there is just incredible. Our chief scientist is based in Boston, we have a microbial fermentation team, based here in Davis, because of some of the companies that are here as well. So ecosystem in both both areas is just spectacular. And in Singapore, we see it as a launchpad to the rest of Asia. So it’s it’s a global HQ, where we do a lot of administrative and business development there.
Michael Waitze 22:42
And you keep talking about milk and milk ingredients. What are these milk ingredients that you’re talking about?
Fengru Lin 22:50
If we’re talking about milk ingredients, we’re talking about lactoferrin Alpha like abdomen, and human milk aldiko sexual rights. So the first two are bioactive proteins that are found in milk. And these proteins have antimicrobial, antiviral, good for your gut, good for your brain. And the human milk, Oliver saturates These are complex sugars that are found in human milk, we have one of the deepest portfolio of these HMOs globally, all these different ingredients put together would be very good for you better for you ingredients that we could include in different food products, different yoga products, different David products, so don’t worry, we are b2b b2c company. So we are working with your big FMCG companies or big food companies to launch products with them onto the market.
Michael Waitze 23:44
Do you have a strategy and I like this idea. So when Intel and Microsoft started working together to build chips that were you know, optimized for Windows, and vice versa. Intel did this marketing campaign where it said like Intel Inside right, so when they competed with AMD, people knew that I want to I want the laptop with like the better chip even though they were both built on this sort of 86 platform so the chips were essentially the same because AMD was licensing Intel’s technology. But Intel Inside actually ended up being really powerful. Do you see yourselves doing the same thing? You know, like powered by turtle tree
or something like that so that when the yogurt comes out at the bottom it doesn’t just say like by Dannan but it says by den and powered by turtle tree kind of thing.
Fengru Lin 24:30
100%. You hit the nail on the head Michael. Intel is is an example a case study that I love. Another one is arm arm semiconductors. Exactly. Yes, exactly the same thing.
Michael Waitze 24:42
So have you started to produce products already with these big FMCG companies? Like can I see this somewhere and if I if I can’t I mean it’s early. I know that so no is probably an okay answer. But if I could, what could I expect to see?
Fengru Lin 24:55
So currently we are in pilot skill up at the moment and we are working With the regulators, we’re working with our dairy of our food partners in formulating different products with the toiletry inside. We do expect to have products on the market sometime next year or end of this year. But we’re working through regulatory at the moment.
Michael Waitze 25:17
And how much fun is that working through the regulatory environment?
Fengru Lin 25:22
Well, we have two plus markets that we’re targeting. Singapore is one of them get is us. And Singapore, because it’s an island country, there is a lot of foot security challenges. So the country is it’s all hands on deck, on making sure they get some of these mobile food products regulated. So we have the Singapore food agency on WhatsApp. We chat with them pretty regularly. So we’re pretty confident that that can be pretty fast. And us so it’s a journey, and I were looking through that.
Michael Waitze 25:56
And is it by state thing in the United States? Or is it just an FDA thing?
Fengru Lin 26:01
It’s an FDA thing.
Michael Waitze 26:01
It is? Yeah, it’s federally interesting. You’ve mentioned a lot Vermont, is there some other connection you have to Vermont, which by the way, is a beautiful, beautiful state, particularly in the fall, but I’m just curious, is there some other connection? Or is it just because of the cheese?
Fengru Lin 26:17
Is just because of the cheese? Okay, let me give you a fun fact there is. So Vermont actually has so many creameries if you Google Vermont cheese map, there is a massive map, you can do like a three day trip, just going from cheese factory to cheese factory is a lot of fun.
Michael Waitze 26:36
So when I was really young, I did this thing called Vermont country cycling. And yeah, it was kind of neat. And what they did was they took you from B and B to B and V. So you’d bike like 40 or 50 kilometers and then stay in another bed and breakfast and I’m sure you can do the same thing. Doing the creamery door as well though.
Fengru Lin 26:55
Yeah, well, that’s okay. You did it. I, I did a cycling football back when I was in university. From from Thailand to Singapore. It was a nice big one as well.
Michael Waitze 27:06
Wait from where? So you biked? From where? From Bangkok to Singapore? From Bangkok
Fengru Lin 27:10
to Singapore? How
Michael Waitze 27:11
far is that you remember
Fengru Lin 27:13
2000 2010? Because there was like a 2010 Youth Olympics thing that we did, like, wow, how long did it take you? About three weeks, we had a lot of breaks in between a lot of bed and breakfast breaks. It was a lot of fun.
Michael Waitze 27:29
I love bicycling, by the way. Me too. Can you talk about funding, like how many people on your team? And this is different, I think than most tech startups, right? Like this is kind of deep tech. There’s a lot of science involved here. A lot of people involved a lot of hard assets, like factories and headquarters and stuff like that. What is the funding status for a company like turtle tree? And I’m also really curious about what’s the right word? Just the reaction from potential investors when you go to them and say, here’s the thing that we’re building, like, how long does it take for them? To understand what you’re actually doing? You know what I mean? I know there’s a bunch of questions in there. But I’m really curious about this.
Fengru Lin 28:09
Yeah, so we have about 35 of employees currently. And when we speak to investors, they are kept very intrigued. I think there is a couple of a number of meat companies cell based collagen and meat companies. But we were the first to do cultivated milk. Yeah. So they were they were intrigued. And I think milk being such a massive industry is $700 billion compared with beef, which is about $300 billion. I think the size of the addressable market is what is very promising for them.
Michael Waitze 28:44
Right? And what is the status of your Are you raising money now? Have you raised money in the past? Can you talk about that at all?
Fengru Lin 28:52
Yeah, it’s a startup we’re always raising. Don’t stop me was very thankful to have closed our Series A one funding a couple of months ago that was 30,000,030, led by 30, led by those Personal Capital, Personal Capital, they are big in the space, they are very much in the food, alternative protein space, your head of that investment. Julian is now part of the territory board. And we love Julian, he’s so supportive, great mentor was a great friend,
Michael Waitze 29:24
…and where where’s Verso based?
Fengru Lin 29:27
They’re based in Switzerland and Dubai.
Michael Waitze 29:29
Oh, wow. So how did you do that? You’re building all this whole thing through COVID, which we haven’t mentioned at all. I mean, you mentioned it a little bit. But I think it’s really interesting, right? Because you’re building physical products. You’re not building simply a digital product where the distribution is kind of easy. COVID Or no? COVID. Right, because it’s frictionless. But how did you raise money from people in Switzerland or in Dubai? Like did you travel there as well?
Fengru Lin 29:53
So traditionally, a lot of investors will not invest unless they have that face to face interaction with you Sure. COVID was so long, it’s been like two years, almost three years now. And yeah, I think investors, this has got to go on, investors are happy to have a chat with us have a chat with the team dive into the science, they believe in us. So we’re very thankful for that. In the alternative protein in the food space, the amount of investments into the space was doubled even from from the year before, I think I was looking at the statistics, it was because if nothing at all, COVID highlighted the need for food security, and highlighted how fragile our food systems are
Michael Waitze 30:39
very. Yeah, I mean, like I said before, I think most people don’t know where their food is coming from, they also don’t know what’s in the food that they’re eating. And like you said, food security that I think people don’t understand the interconnectivity of the supply chains globally, and just the impact that it has on them. And they’re starting to figure it out. Bit by bit. When you look into the future, not just in the milk space, but like in the food space. I like the way you say novel food, but in the food space overall. Ideally, what do you think things should look like in the next five to 10 years?
Fengru Lin 31:12
Wow. In the next five to 10 years, this really not that far off. We have spoken to folks from the biggest dairy companies in the world, and they told us, you know, you guys are making milk with technology to try to make as much milk as possible. For us as traditional dairy. We can’t even keep up the demand, really, with the next billion people coming onto the planet. How many more cows can we raise your farm so many more farms, and we expand to so we need different alternative sources to continue feeding the world.
Michael Waitze 31:49
If that happens, right? If you can start creating food with technology and milk with technology, does that also mean that the cows from which you’re extracting the cells are no longer going to be injected with antibiot
ics so that the milk quality will revert if it’s not already reverting back to the higher quality that, let’s say we had 30 or 40 years ago, before cows were being big before cows needed to be so big, right? And this 40 to 60% increase in production happened? Because of chemicals getting injected into cows? Do you know what I mean?
Fengru Lin 32:21
When we talk about the food industry, the farming industry, agriculture is not a one. One source of problem. I think it’s a lot of political, a lot of social, and different factors that contribute to this. So it would be I mean, it’d be nice if this was the only cause. But I think it’s a lot more complex than that.
Michael Waitze 32:46
I understand. Yeah. And I just want to introduce this level of complexity to people, right? Because, you know, again, it’s like dropping, it’s like dropping a stone into a lake, right? It’s not just there where it happens. It’s this sort of flowering out of a fluttering out of this impact. It can go all the way to the shore. And I think again, most people forget about this. The last thing I want to ask you before, before I let you go, is you mentioned when you quit your job, your mother cried. She wanted. And I don’t know why. But I’m presuming as a parent myself. That it’s it’s better to look at your daughter with some stability, as opposed to just like, I don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow. What does she think now? Because she blow by the fact that you just closed a $30 million. That’s amazing.
Fengru Lin 33:34
She knows that I didn’t tell her about it. I think my dad does. Okay, so my mom was Taiwanese, so she doesn’t subscribe to English news. So as a result, she’s less caught up with toiletry updates than my father, but I think they’re pretty, pretty excited. And I guess she’s a little bit. She feels a bit more relaxed. She’s off my back. I can afford my mortgage and so she’s a lot more relaxed now.
Michael Waitze 34:02
What does your dad do?
Fengru Lin 34:04
Oh, my dad’s retired, but he used to be a businessman.
Michael Waitze 34:08
A businessman. Yeah, so he’s watching the progress. He must be blown away.
Fengru Lin 34:11
He’s very excited.
Michael Waitze 34:13
I’m happy for you. I’m happy for you. I really want to thank you for taking the time today. Fengru Lin, the Founder and CEO at TurtleTree. This was really, really super. Thank you so much.
Fengru Lin 34:22
Thank you Michael, this was fun.