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Today’s episode is on the important subject of how you can protect the oceans’ health and marine life. I’ve had a major crush on this company, BlueNalu, and you’ll finally get to hear why I’m “true blue” for BlueNalu and President & CEO Lou Cooperhouse. We are at the forefront of a generational shift towards healthier, more sustainable eating that is good for people, the planet and accessible to all. BlueNalu is on a mission to be the global leader of cell cultured seafood, and to provide consumers with great tasting, healthy, safe and trusted products that support the sustainability and diversity of our ocean. I talk with Lou about his individual and company core values and how he shows up as a mission driven and consciously inclusive leader. He shares the inspiration of developing BlueNalu, and why we need cell cultured seafood now more than ever. Lou gives a sneak peek of what we can expect, as the company makes it’s way onto a plate near you in the very near future.
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Documentar: Eating Our Way to Extinction
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The Imperfect Shownotes
0:01 Carley Hauck
Hi, welcome to the Shine Podcast. I am so happy you’re here. My name is Carley Hauck, and I am your host. This podcast focuses on the intersection of science, the application of conscious, inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams, and awareness practices so that you can cultivate what it takes on the inside, the inner game, to be the kind of leader our world needs now. I facilitate two to three episodes a month. And before I introduce this wonderful topic today, please go over to Apple podcasts, hit the subscribe button on this Shine Podcast. And if you love this interview, which I am sure you will, please share it with folks that you think will benefit or it will inspire, and write a five star review. All of this helps so much. Thank you, we are in season six of the shine podcast. And this season is really focusing on how we design our lives at work at home, to be in greater harmony, and optimize for the well being of ourselves or communities or co workers, and most importantly, our greatest stakeholder the planet. Today’s episode is on the important subject of how you can protect the oceans health and marine life to thrive. Lou Cooperhouse. So I want to tell you all, I have had a major crush on this company, BlueNalu. And as you hear more, you’re going to understand why I am true blue for BlueNalu.
Carley Hauck 1:55
And I have been waiting patiently yet persistently to have this interview with Lou Copperhouse for over two years. So just to give you a little backstory, I began the podcast over three years ago, it was part of the research I was conducting in order to write my new book Shine, Ignite your Inner Game to Lead Consciously at Work in the World. And the impetus for writing Shine was because I didn’t have any hope for the world that we were living in. The science around climate change was just annihilating. I had nightmares for nights, when I really understood the precipice of what we were standing at, the opportunity to shift it. And so I decided I was going to take a stand for what I could do in this lifetime, to create a world where humans and planet could flourish, where business could be best for the world. And so the way that I’ve been able to do that is by shifting the hearts and minds of men, women, all people that have influence at the leadership and business level. And I’ve also amplified those leaders and businesses that are disrupting the old ways, with solutions that will support our thriving through the podcast through my book. And when I think about a business’s greatest opportunity to be best for the world, it is a company with a mission and vision like BlueNalu. We are at the forefront of a generational shift towards healthier, more sustainable eating that is good for people good for the planet, and accessible to all. BlueNalu is a cellular agriculture company. Which means that living cells are isolated from fish tissue placed into culture media for proliferation, and then assembled into great tasting fresh and frozen seafood products. BlueNalu whose mission is to be the global leader and sell cultured seafood, providing consumers with great tasting healthy, safe and trusted products that support the sustainability and diversity of our ocean. The interview that you will be listening to is with the president and CEO of BlueNalu, Lou Cooperhouse. I just realized as I was getting ready to record this intro that there’s something actually even more special about this company and this leader for me. So one of the catalysts for me writing my book was that seven years ago, I was having a conversation with my nephew. His name is Cooper. He was four at the time. And as you just heard, Lou Cooperhouse. We’ve got Cooper twice is the interview I’m about to release to you. Well, Cooper looked at me when he was four. And he said, Auntie Carley, “will you help me save the ocean?” And at that moment in time, I trembled with that responsibility. But I also knew I couldn’t say no. And so that actually brought me on the journey that I’m am now. And I believe that this company can help save the ocean. So thanks to Lou, and everyone at BlueNalu. And everybody supporting this company to shine. This one’s for you, Cooper.
Hi, Shine podcasters I have saved a wonderful leader and interview for you all I found out about Lou and this wonderful company BlueNalu, probably about two years ago. And before my book Shine came out, I sent Lou a copy because he exemplified this conscious, inclusive, mission driven leader, and blue. I’m so happy to have you. Thanks for being here.
Lou Cooperhouse 6:11
Thanks, Carley. It’s a real honor to be on your podcast. Thank you.
Carley Hauck 6:14
So I wanted to ask you one of the first questions that I typically ask leaders and guests here, is what does conscious inclusive leadership mean to you?
Lou Cooperhouse 6:25
It’s a great question. And, and my career actually spans almost 40 years now. And I’ve had the fortune to be in a number of leadership positions. But the end the day, it’s all about the team, really a team that respects each other, and the team that also represents diversity, diversity of thought, background ideas, and really bring something to the table, but also recognizes that nobody has all the answers. So it’s, it’s really a spirit of open innovation collaboration, internally and externally, that I’ve really found to be really, really core to culture, and the values that embody a very successful company, where all of us are leaders, I am obviously the CEO of the company. But really, it’s creating leadership at all levels. And also inclusivity, and respect, and communication, and empathy, where we all support each other. So that, you know, literally one plus one equals three and one plus one plus one equals seven, and so on. So so it’s really trying to find that that synergy that really comes from an outstanding team.
Carley Hauck 7:35
Wonderful. Well, I’m really hearing you focus on the team. How do you create this
happy, healthy, thriving team that’s really focused on the North Star, because your company is very mission driven. And I’m really excited for you to tell folks more about your your mission and your vision. So let’s talk a little bit about how you came to BlueNalu. And you had shared with me before we hit record, there was kind of this like, awakening this, this aha moment, because as you said, you’ve you’ve been in the food space for a long time. How did you find your way to this particular company, and this particular focus?
Lou Cooperhouse 8:21
I mentioned, I’ve been in entrepreneurship positions at large companies, including Campbell’s and ConAgra and Nestle funded startup and pioneering all kinds of technologies and trends for many, many years in many different categories. A lot of firsts along the way, you know, first application of various technologies, the first products that really leveraged, you know, certain medical nutrition areas like gluten free or, or even diabetes products, you know, some time ago. But my aha moment, you know, really came from the period of 2000, on where I actually was doing a lot of consulting, and my consulting was actually in business incubation entrepreneurship. And during that time, I also started and ran the Rutgers Food Innovation Center, as an executive director of a program that supported many entrepreneurs, and I found myself being nicknamed Mr. Wonderful quite a bit, but never really been satisfied with all the ideas I heard, and really asking everybody about really what what is your differentiation? What is your USP? Why should I care? And along the way, I learned about all with all those happening in alternative protein. I was personally mentoring several clients in plant based categories. And I found some opportunities there, but also some limitations. And I was kind of really fascinated by both precision fermentation, but even more so about self culturing. And I found myself Carley really talking about this and kind of various public presentations about food trends, technologies, and then And there was actually an aha moment, I was actually in Hawaii in 2017. And I was asked to kind of motivate the entrepreneurs in the audience. There’s about 300 people at this Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, actually, in Honolulu. And my whole objective there was think big, think differently, you know, really look at export opportunities, and so forth. And I found myself really profiling some most exciting things happened in food tech. And founding, you know, really talking about the space in alternative protein, as the most transformative disruptive thing I’ve ever seen, arguably, ever in mankind, describing this as the most transformative thing for any industry, very much like computers was in the 70s. Here, 50 years later, still seeing advances there. I said, food tech is the beginning of something that’s happening now is very transformative. And you know, that I particularly said, we have a fundamental problem. It’s right here, it’s called the Pacific Ocean. 70% of our global seafood supply comes from, you know, you know, whatever 2000 mile radius of Hawaii, and this is the global problem, whereas the category began with cell culture in our meat, poultry. My opinion, it was really based on where the science that existed, it wasn’t really based on where the market opportunity, where the humanity really needed to make the greatest difference. That was literally making the intersection between cell culturing and seafood. And, you know, I found myself, Carley, interestingly enough, motivating myself to actually do something. So it was really through my own kind of transplant, if you will, and looking at opportunities to really support others that I really said, there’s such an a huge opportunity that could be so transformative, disruptive. And I felt that I could do it. And sure enough, shortly thereafter, I managed to an investor and one thing led to the other, and I was the co founder and CEO of what became BlueNalu. And here we are about four and a half years later. And we’ve come a long way. And we’re very excited by what we’re able to bring to the market in the coming years. So that aha moment really began from me really identifying something that was really driven by benefits, not just for consumers, but also for animals and the planet. So it was really quite the holy grail moment, if you will, that a single solution. So cultural seafood really solved so many ills on our planet. And it was such a unique a differential opportunity that I put myself in under 10%. To really make this happen.
Carley Hauck 12:40
Wonderful. Thank you for that story. And so, you know, based on the research that I’ve done around cellular, agricultural, specific to seafood, is that when you’re creating cultivated meat, and the and you could probably say this better than me, this is this is your area, but we’re minimizing animal cruelty, ocean acidification because of the warming of the planet, we’re also removing the microplastics, because we’re not going to be eating any of that. We don’t have to worry about mercury in the food supply. Can you tell us a little bit more about the proprietary technology that allows you to create these stable cell lines, and then is able to, you know, have all these benefits so that people that want to continue to eat fish, and so much of you know, the more Asian countries and Southeast Asia, our you know, one of their major food supplies is fish. How do we actually cultivate it so that it’s healthy for people, but it’s healthy for the planet?
Lou Cooperhouse 13:50
That’s great question. I think just to build on your question to you know, I think the problem is, is there’s a global problem and challenge with our seafood supply. We literally there’s a reason why says market price on a menu versus, you know, a beef or poultry product, which is maybe consistent, you know, all the time with pricing availability. So our supply chain is so fragile, and and is diminishing, it’s insecure, it’s variable. It’s fraught with issues of animal suffering, one to 3 trillion fish are harvested if you will slaughtered each year for human animal consumption. It’s the greatest amount of lives last, but there’s compromise with mercury, microplastics toxins pollutants, as you’ve mentioned, are something that’s increasingly problematic in our seafood supply. There’s even been issues with mercury being found in I’m sorry, with microplastics being found in in blood or lungs, recent reports. So back to your question, when the company began, you know, in in early 2018, we recognize that there were a series of opportunities / challenges to actually Get this get this accomplished. First of all, nobody had ever established stable cell lines of commercial fish species. All the knowledge came from mammalian cell culturing, which is, frankly, why many of the companies began on mammalian cell culture inside. Because the knowledge was there, I followed the market, the market opportunity and opportunity create benefits for consumers and mankind, I felt was far greater with seafood, because we could address human health, animal welfare and global food security, which is really unparalleled versus meat poultry products. So we had to literally propagate fish shells, we tried to melee cell culture, technology did not work. So we have created our own proprietary know how an IP for propagating, you know, several 100 different cell lines to date from multiple species of fish. So we have our whole approach was a platform technology, not a single species, we’re also want to focus on a ground informed product, but actually a high value whole muscle product like bluefin tuna, specifically toro, so the high value species a high value part and make this increasingly accessible to all. So as you mentioned, to the global demands an all time high, particularly in Asia, as people are consuming more and more seafood because of the health benefits, but, frankly, is becoming increasingly unhealthy due to all the issues I mentioned. So there is a migration for red meat, there’s even a movement called Blue foods, for having people consume more product from the ocean. So all we’re doing is just, you know, challenging that fragile ocean ecosystem even more. But to your question, we have created their proprietary cell lines, we have created an animal component free media to support them. We have done this without genetic engineering, or scaffolds or microcarriers. So everything that we’re doing tonight was focused on scale production. You know, from day one, this was not about an experiment to really demonstrate proof of concept. It’s about proof of scale. And that was really the challenge that all of us face. But even more so in the case of seafood, since it was such an unknown, you know, category when we first began. So so it’s really the it’s not just the the cell line development, but also the food safe supply chain of raw materials, an analog component free basis, and then actually developing the processes for large scale production. So we’ve even conducted a techno economic analysis of our own to really understand what large scale production looks like, we have been driven by what the end in mind looks like, from the very beginning of the company, to really think about factories. And, you know, I believe we were the first company even talking about what large scale production might look like, you know, with early factory designs that we put out there and actually stage get approached for what large scale production. So the food industry is all about volume, right. And, and, and that’s our goal is to be the first to market with scale, particularly when it comes to seafood. And that’s what really motivates all of us is to be really driven by the end in mind, but also recognize all the building blocks that it takes to get there. So an awful lot of proprietary know how that all of us in this category are developing. But our focus is also driven by first of all consumers to have products that have the greatest amount of consumer adoption, and the least amount of regulatory challenges for global adoption. So we’re really focusing on species that have global applications. We’re also focused on Carley displacing imports and creating more food security. So there are certain species we’re not working on at this time, in particular, because we really want to work in partnership with the seafood supply chain. So that’s part of our differentiation, too, is to really collaborate with industry, I mentioned earlier on internal collaborations, but also external. So we’re really proud of the many partners we developed over the last four and a half years as well.
Carley Hauck 19:05
Great. Thank you for answering all of that. And I mean, I think what was so exciting for me about learning more about your, your mission and your, you know, the company a few years ago is, as you said, you know, the ecosystem of the ocean is really struggling. And we as humans are 70% water. So my thought is if we don’t protect the oceans, we’re not good stewards of the ocean. I mean, we’re not gonna be here, you know, humanity’s not going to be here, the planet will be a and when I think about, you know, just all the fish that are mostly being circulated in restaurants, it’s, you know, it’s tuna, as you said, it’s Mahi Mahi, it’s salmon. These are kind of like this staples that you see over and over and over again. And those those fish a lot of them are farm raised or they’re they’re really unhealthy and if they’re being caught with a net In the ocean, that is, I mean, that’s destroying so much of the marine ecosystem. There’s bycatch involved in that. And so, you know, I see there being missed opportunity to create cell lines of endangered species, right so that they don’t become endangered.
Lou Cooperhouse 20:21
That’s very true. Yeah, we’re there. We’re certainly very driven by, by I mentioned kind of my career, you know, even working on products, like even gluten free products. So that was some 25 years ago.
Carley Hauck 20:33
I’m gluten free, by the way, really interesting. I can’t eat gluten.
Lou Cooperhouse 20:37
You’ll be happy to know that, you know, kind of my objective way back then, was to really create what I call an oxymoron foods, giving people something that they really emotionally crave. And they value like gluten free lasagna, or mac and cheese, things like that. So when I think about what Lunala is able to do, it’s also an oxymoron kind of model. You know, it’s able to provide, say, bluefin tuna, what is bluefin tuna? It’s, unfortunately, has typically very unsustainable, very high mercury, it’s a predatory fish. And it’s also comes long distances, has a very poor yield. So we’re literally, you know, think about oxymoron, we’re able to make a sustainable mercury free, accessible, you know, ultimately affordable product that is available year round. So So you know, and taste just as delicious. So to the foodservice operator, when we learn about say, bluefin tuna, I just can’t get it, there’s no available supply. And if I do, I don’t trust it. It’s so variable in quality and color and texture and mouthfeel. You know, you know, and you’re saying what, well, you can give me 100% yield available year round, you know, predictable and trusted supply chain, sustainable and healthy for my consumers, without mercury and microplastics. So, you know, we’ve had such positive reinforcement and all the customer research we’ve done that really addresses, frankly, unlike terrestrial animals, that we are really solving problems that are felt every day with food service establishments, but also the consumers. We’ve even learned from consumers who are who most enjoy seafood are most likely to want to select our products over farm raised are wild, because they love seafood. But they’re feel a little bit handcuffed to fuel. You know that, you know, you know, I hear about mercury or microplastics. And so we’re really solving problems in to both the foodservice operator and the consumer, that’s really unique to seafood. So we’re excited by that. And again, it’s an oxymoron kind of logic here, giving you something that you really didn’t think was even possible.
Carley Hauck 22:51
Well, that’s all really fascinating. I know that you talked about scaling and factories, and I want to come back to that, but I’m gonna actually move us into a little bit of a detour around, you know, how you’re leading because you’re still, you know, gathering capital, you’re definitely early stage, but I see you as a, I don’t know, a rocket ship or a what’s a ship that can fly that’s in the ocean? I don’t know, there’s, there’s there’s some some version of that happening now. And there’s a lot there’s a lot on your plate, there’s, there’s a pace. This is a very competitive market. And I feel curious, like what’s keeping you up at night? If you’re willing to share that? And what are some of the practices that are keeping you resilient, positive, healthy, so that you can be the strong leader for yourself, but for your team, and for this mission? So I kind of asked two questions, what’s keeping you up at night? And then what are some of the practices that you’re leaning on, you know, within yourself to keep showing up every day? And the most resilient way? You can?
Lou Cooperhouse 24:04
I think the what keeps me up at night is is, is really, it’s all about perseverance and patience, both so you know, coming from the food industry, after all these years, the food industry has really, you know, very fast pace, very much driven by volume and creating consumer benefits and value, differentiating characteristics USP, that unique selling proposition, and it’s a really fast pace, where products can be developed in months and I’ve done that over and over again. So this is not that. This is something that has, if you will, a really long lag phase of development has never been done before. You have challenges of technology, process development, engineering, scale production, regulatory Market communication. In fact, if anything, we have so many benefits that I’ve described, you know, even how we communicate those benefits, what most resonates, is all part of, you know, how we get to market. And how we do that with partnerships, we can’t do this alone. Right? So what, you know what historically, you know, I’ve been driven by, you know, quickness and speed, and really getting to market with differentiated characteristics, but this is so transformative, so differentiated, and it also takes time. So, you know, there is a requirement for patience, because it’s all about doing it, right. You know, we could be driven to be in the market with something that’s not scalable, you know, and that’s, that’s just, that’s just wrong. So everything we’re doing is really focusing on what it takes to be successful at scale. That’s key. And, and so our, our team knows that our investors know that, you know, in our future customers will value that, because we are doing everything that we can possibly do to, again, have the products with the greatest amount of consumer acceptance, you know, really, really, through processes that, again, absent of genetic engineering, or other ingredients that might be considered deleterious or just wrong. So it’s all focused on doing it the right way. And the right way, it takes longer, but at the end of the day, it’s about large scale production. So everything we’re doing is a lag phase, followed by a log phase, you know, a logarithmic growth. So, so we’re very excited by what you know, from 2027 to 2040, massive amounts of factories being built around the world. So let’s take the time to do it right, and actually go through the incremental stage case to get it right. So what keeps me up at night is just really, you know, maintaining that consistent, incremental progress. It doesn’t really keep me up, frankly, because the whole team is really values that and is really engaged in that. And and I know that was one of your questions, and and what was your other one?
Carley Hauck 27:10
That’s really helpful. And I’ll, I’ll just, you know, share a reaction. Josh Tetrick is one of the leaders that I highlighted in my book. And so you know, really being with him in the early stages of, of gestede. And they have also been really experimenting with, you know, factories, and I believe it was this week, Josh sends me emails of like, hey, we did this this week. And anyway, he’s just kind of letting me know, I am still on the cheerleading side. But he, they, they got a, you know, a lot of a lot of approval with a good meat factory in Singapore, I believe it was last week. And so, yeah, it’s like, how do we create this at scale. And what I also hear is, because you’ve been in the food industry, for 40 years, you’ve been an entrepreneur, based on your maturity and your tenure, you’re able to be in this space of patience and persistence, that maybe a younger leader doesn’t have that experience hasn’t gone through the roller coaster, so to speak, you know, to really see the the long game and, and you’re right, this hasn’t ever been done before. And it is a competitive space. And, you know, I think what’s happening in in vegan plant based alternative proteins, whatever you want to call it, is there’s so many products coming to market right now. And some of them are overly processed or not very healthy. This is not that. And so, yeah, it’s gonna take time, and you want the sensory experience to also wow people, right? Like, why would they ever go back to something that wasn’t this? So?
Lou Cooperhouse 28:54
No, and you’re probably familiar probably with that the 80 care needed that now called Charity, that report, you know, maybe three years ago or so. And they actually talked about PLANT BASE being, you know, really critical, but really, as a transitional product and their words, you know, that that cell culture would win in the long game, I think those were there, those are that those are more or less their words as well. I felt that entirely and we’re starting to see that now. So plant base is certainly, you know, super beneficial to mankind. It’s really bit of a it’s an excellent transitional product. And there will continue to be a need and opportunity for plant based products. But unfortunately, many of them did begin something I learned early on with an awful lot of processed ingredients and consumers are where they’re there. They’re conflicted. So whereas they want to reduce their protein and particular animal protein intake, in particular, you know, but they, you know, but they also don’t like to see 2030 Or even more ingredients on a label, and a lot of things they can’t pronounce. So the entire Food Industry went to minimal labels, you know, and then all of a sudden, you know, plant based products came out with, you know, maximal labels, if you will, that these two will learn, and now you’re starting to see products coming out in the plant based category where they should have originally with, you know, 357 ingredients. And that that will that will be the next generation. But the meantime, yeah, the cell culturing products are increasingly getting more mature. So each us and upside, and you have all of them future and Israel and many other companies around the world are continually moving forward and advancing, developing their commercialization, you know, pathways and timelines and this industry, you know, in just three, five years, you’ll start to see the first factories being built. So this is, you know, where we call this a long game, this is not that long, after all, I think we’re, we’re ahead of the head of the expectation, you know, the amount of, I’m just so excited by how much has evolved, supply chain is becoming food grade, and it’s increasingly becoming affordable. You know, and that’s something, you know, you’re seeing some major players in this space here. We’re seeing all the technology being developed, but very importantly, the regulatory climate around the world. It’s very motivating, frankly, currently, to see agencies that are very forward thinking, and are very communicative, and even establishing consultative relationships with companies like blue Nalo, he helped me understand this technology, the various ways that can be accomplished, I want to put in the methodology that would enable regulatory approval of these products, whether it’s us, Singapore, Japan, Europe, etc. So it’s very motivating. Many of them are driven by food security, as well, particularly as
Carley Hauck 31:55
to be able to feed all these people on the planet, right? Yeah, totally. Well, it’s happening. It’s happened. It’s happening. It’s exciting. So that brings us back to the second question, you know, in order to have the long game and to show up with strength and resilience for the back to back meetings, and I’m sure all the decisions you’re having to make, and to continue to earn capital so that you can create this amazing product, like, what are some of the practices that support you to really lead in this way?
Lou Cooperhouse 32:30
It’s, I think, go back to my earlier comment. So the the first practice, you know, really was, you know, we actually, I actually moved from East Coast to come to San Diego, and the single word that describes why San Diego despite being an amazing place to live and work was actually, you know, workforce. So it’s where I could draw a team that had the expertise, and the diversity that will be required for success in cell biology, tissue engineering, and bio processing, market development, regulatory strategy, consumer insights, all the things it takes to be successful. And also, frankly, that I think that culture that thinks San Diego really resonates with innovation, and spirit, and passion, and respect for for our planet. So I was really motivated by coming here. And so so it’s really building a team that, you know, is about respects inspiration, passion, culture, empathy. And, you know, recently, Carley, we even introduced our core values, you know, for the company. And the first one was actually be epicurious. So so the epi in there was really a call out to food this is first and foremost, culinary driven, creating products that people will love with no compromise. So enjoy without compromise, you know, reimagining the future of food, you know, being bold, you know, that all of us should really embrace the characteristics of of courage and innovation, problem solving, you know, thinking out of the box taking action, then we also had a value of being a lighthouse, as we called it, being a leader. So we’ve actually demonstrated a lot of different ways global leadership, you know, really even even nomenclature around this category. You know, we are, we are actually the only company that this at this point in time worldwide that really was trying to help, you know, in the United States, you know, regulatory agencies with appropriate nomenclature to what they’re called us product. And we ended up sponsoring third party scientific peer reviewed third party research that determines cell culturing was the most appropriate term. But that leadership is really all about, you know, demonstrating a focus on food safety as well. So called out our commitment to having a company really founded not just on meeting regulatory requirements worldwide, but also what’s called GFSI, global food safety initiative, best practices. So these are practices recognized by leading retailers and foodservice operators around the world. So it’s all about humility, safety, continuous improvement. And lastly, what we call being true blue, you know, you know, working together as a team with trust, that commitment to sustainability and also respecting our own community, and giving back in various ways that we can as well. So those are the four values of epicurious, being bold, being a lighthouse and being true blue that, you know, we recently launched internally, and we’ll be actually communicating that, you know, more broadly in the near future.
Carley Hauck 35:53
That’s great. I love hearing those values. And so you know, going back to what I was asking around the practice that you’re cultivating on the inside that allows you to, to model that, right, so like if you are, and I talked about this in the in the book, and I asked leaders around around that inner game. So one of the qualities of an of the inner game is, is authenticity. So the authenticity that I have of this is what matters to me, this is my truth. And then you’re able to be more bold, for example, you’re able to be true blue, right, and practicing radical candor. But what I heard that you didn’t explicitly say, but you kind of said is that, you know, there’s this culture in San Diego. And what I, and I’ve been there multiple times is, and I shared with you, I’m going to be spending some time there this this summer, but there’s a lot of focus on well being right. There’s definitely a great appreciation of the natural environment and nature, and there’s a lot of healthy food choices there as well. And I think that that is something that I’m hearing is also a value within the company, because you’re obviously creating this product, because you’re seeing the interconnection of nature, right. And so it’s it’s like, what are the well being practices that you’re actually invested in that your culture that your team is invested in, in? Because in order to be the lighthouse? You have to also nourish that light? Right? So I just feel curious, if you if you’re willing to share like, is it? Is it going for a walk every day? Is it meditating? Is it I don’t know petting your dog? I don’t know, if you have a dog.
Lou Cooperhouse 37:40
Well, it’s really all of this, I think that we actually are continually looking inward, as well as outward about what we can do to really, you know, embrace enhance those core values that I mentioned. Yeah. And as, as a company, you know, we have such a strong, robust HR team, that’s really continually everything from the foods we serve our employees, and the health and well being products, but also our commitment to work in the community. Whether it’s beach cleanups, or, you know, community food banks that we volunteered at, but also social gatherings. You know, it’s actually our, the four year anniversary, we’re celebrating tomorrow.
Carley Hauck 38:26
Lou Cooperhouse 38:28
It was actually June 4 2018, it was June 4, that was the first day of operation where we actually went on the payroll, if you will. So that was kind of a day that we kind of celebrate, you know, so as we look at employees, anniversary dates, myself included, you know, we’re all in now in business for years, but for me, it’s an extra, you know, almost almost a full year of of getting this organized beforehand. But yeah, so we’re constantly out there, you know, celebrating, you know, getting involved, whether it’s, you know, fun events, you know, you know, we also celebrate our pets. And we have have, you know, exercise activities at work, walks around the building, but also, you know, some nutritional programs that were implemented as well. So, but you’re absolutely right, it’s really about, it’s such an amazing environment for it really supports well being. And we have just, and frankly, even when we recruit employees, we’re really driven by, you know, individuals that are so drawn to, I kind of describe people as authors or editors. So an author really loves to create to really is so motivated and passionate about doing something a balloon is all about. There’s never been done before. Some people are resistant to change. We’re looking for those people that are just motivated by by creation and change and authorship, if you will have a second and we’re looking for people that have the passion that really are driven to make it difference for our planet. Yeah, we’re looking for both those qualities. And we’re finding that over and over again, you know, and that’s really, I’m excited to on your podcast, because we’re continually building our team, we’re expanding quite a bit this year. In fact, we’re now moving into a 40,000 square foot facility here in San Diego. So third building we’re in. And we’re expanding the team as we prepare for regulatory approval and small scale market launch in the coming years. So it’s a very exciting time we’re growing, but we’re continually drawn by those employees that really, you know, personify those qualities.
Carley Hauck 40:37
Yeah, you have a specific culture and people will be a right fit or or not a right fit. When you think about, and I just have maybe like two more questions for you. When you think about the potential of of a product coming out in Southern California for people to try, will that come into the restaurants first? Do you have a sense of when that will be you can give us a sneak peek, and what what type of fish people will get to try?
Lou Cooperhouse 41:13
Sure. Kind of the the market opportunity kind of is dependent on on the particular product selected. And we fought so hard, Carley about what species to really launch with. And we looked at attributes that included you know, the potential for global global customer adoption, really addressing issues around sustainability, or the lack thereof today, food security, but also mercury and plastics. And, you know, and also frankly, products that command a premium price point are really highly valued and, and really resonate and represent the quality and the culinary attributes that are so important to us. And that first product will be bluefin tuna, and bluefin tuna is that the highest valued most exciting is the Wagyu beef of the ocean. We’ve heard from restaurant operators. And you know, and we’re specifically working on the twirl the high high fat belly portion of Bluefin that is that is most most culinary, exciting to to restaurant operators and, frankly, where they differentiate. So again, we’re driven by all those, those oxymorons, those those attributes that make a difference. And that obviously lends itself to food service. So we’ll be launching at restaurants, and also rapids. It also resonates heavily in Asia. So So as you may be familiar, we’ve actually very proud to have relationships, partnerships that include its Vichy, Sumitomo, and food and life in Japan, Pomona, South Korea, taught Thai union, which is based in Thailand, but also throughout Asia and Europe and US as well. And also Nutreco and Nomad foods in Europe and rich products that Griffith foods United States. So just a series of partners that really support us in all sorts of areas from market insights and intelligence, and potential distribution, but also regulatory insights as well supply chain etc. So so at your question, we are launching with bluefin tuna and foodservice in both the United States and in Asia as quickly as we can, as quickly as we get ready to our approval there. And we will follow that with a series of products to follow. So we are really not about if you will, you know, a single product company, we are all about a platform technology with a broad array of products that will really complete menu. So our future restaurants can not just have one product, but can displace all of their conventional seafood with Lunala seafood, become entirely the cell culture of seafood. products by our peers can displace their entire menus, with alternative proteins soon to be routine protein products on their menu made through cell culturing process. And in terms of timeframe, you know, we’re really looking at, you know, just we’re just, you know, two years away from some sort of small scale market development, regulatory approval, could be sooner could be a little bit later. But that’s kind of a reasonable timeframe. But we’re looking at putting a shovel in the ground for a first large scale factory as early as 2025. So you know, and that’s, that’s probably a good to your projects in itself. So somewhere out 2027 We’re looking at large scale factories being built. That’s our goal. And we think that can be, you know, multiplied by many factories shortly thereafter. So we’re really just, you know, five years away from starting to see some, some significant volumes coming out of factories, and I think we’ll see other companies in the category. beef and poultry fall in a very similar timeframe, so not too far away.
Carley Hauck 44:56
Yeah. Well, that’s incredibly exciting. Thank you. So much. For folks that are listening, how do they support you? How do they support BlueNalu?
Lou Cooperhouse 45:07
No, no, thank you so much for Carley for this opportunity to speak to you today on your podcasts. And please follow us on BlueNalu.com, you’ll see our social media platforms there as well. And there’s also a way to reach out to us with any inquiries you may have. We’re all about, you know, collaboration with industry. And we’re always looking for partnerships, you know, on the supply, chain side, potential distribution side and everything in between. And we can’t do this alone. But on the consumer side, you know, please follow us on various social media platforms. And you know, we’re excited to hopefully come to restaurants near you and not too distant future.
Carley Hauck 45:50
How wonderful. Well, I think we’re all going to be just yeah, so wonderfully impacted by the opportunity here that you’re solving. So thank you again, for your strong leadership. And appreciate your time today, Lou.
Lou Cooperhouse 46:05
My pleasure, Carley, thank you.
Carley Hauck 46:07
Thank you, Lou, for your service, your time, your inspired, conscious, inclusive leadership. And for all of those at Blue Nalu, who are trailblazing and leading the way in this important mission and business. As you heard in the podcast, this is a very special company. And if you want to learn more about BlueNalu, then please check out the link in the show notes. And I’d like to also invite you to think of another way that you could stamp for the protection of ocean and marine life. When we think about the interconnection of our bodies and the planet. The ocean is pretty irrelevant to me. Since we are 70% water and we cannot survive without water, and the ocean is struggling. It has been for a long time, we’ve been using it as a waste receptacle. When you think about the huge amount of garbage and plastic, the Pacific garbage patch that has been floating. It’s about two times the size of Texas when we think about the inhumane, but also just devastating practices of the fishing industry, on the ocean floor and marine life and the ecosystem of the ocean. And if you’d like to learn more about what actually eating fish that is being caught by a net is doing and all the bycatch of dolphins and turtles and sharks that are being caught when you’re, for example trying to eat tuna, I would highly encourage you to watch Seaspiracy. It was one of the most watched documentaries on Netflix in 2021. And I had the privilege of meeting one of the executive producers of that film a few weeks ago. Jim Greenbaum I’m giving a little light to you, Jim, thank you so much for your contribution and bringing all of that into the light for us to shift our patterns, our behaviors, so that we too can be supporting people and planet to thrive. As always, thank you so much for tuning in to the shine podcast. And I would love to have you share this with folks and friends. And if you would like to support me and the continuation of these interviews, you can visit my Patreon page patreon.com/carleyhauck. Your generosity helps so much. I have some incredible interviews coming for the remainder of this season. And until we meet again, be the light and shine the light.