“Thirty years from now I think for sure we will know much more about the impact that food has on us. More or less, the level of science today is vegetables are good so have more of that, but I think in 30 years time, from the moment we are born, we’re going to know exactly what foods we should eat, and for what purpose, and we are going to be able to source them, and enjoy their benefits.”
In this week’s episode of Future Food, I speak to Sofia Elizondo, cofounder of Brightseed one of AgFunder‘s portfolio companies (full disclosure, that’s us!) Brightseed is such an exciting company that’s poised to change how we think about what we eat. The Silicon Valley startup is researching bioactive compounds in plants to discover unknown health benefits. Did you know one of our most common drugs was derived from plants? Find out which in the episode!
Sofia’s background is in management consulting before she did an MBA at Stanford and later joined the Silicon Valley foodtech scene as one of the first employees at JUST (formerly Hampton Creek).
We talk about how there are 50,000 edible plants on the planet but how we mostly eat just 15 of them, and three of them make up 60% of our calories.
“I remember growing up, Kale was a garnish for a steak, and it is now a superfood, and so there are many, many more wonderfully nourishing superfoods out there. We just need to know where to look,” says Sofia.
We also speak about the various ways in which healthy plant extracts could be incorporated into food and drink and accessible to consumers. And I love Sofia’s responses to the hot or not food trend round, especially her thoughts on gluten-free products.
I’ve been interviewing many women for this podcast series but it’s not always easy to find them as the numbers of female founders in foodtech, as well as all industries, remains low and they certainly have a different fundraising experience. So I ask Sofia about her experience being a woman in this industry, including how she was on the road fundraising while pregnant! One of AgFunder’s coinvestors in Brightseed is S2G Ventures, the leading agri-foodtech investor who is very thoughtful about diversity in its portfolio and has in fact partnered with us on an investigation into funding gaps for female founders in our industry.
“It is not uncommon that I am the only woman at a table or a meeting, but I think the key is to surround yourself with great people, and I think this applies across genders, but if you have the right partners, the right investors, the right co-founders, any challenge is surmountable, and I have certainly benefited from that people ecosystem around me through my early parenting as well.”
Find the full episode below to find out more about how Brightseed is using computational biology and artificial intelligence to make plant discoveries and hear more key insights from Sofia, who is not only a superwoman founder but also super fun to hang out with, so I hope she comes back to New York again soon! (hint hint).