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Founder Spotlight: Kesha Stickland (The Mushroom Meat Co.)

 

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This article was originally published by https://www.vegpreneur.org/blog/kesha-stickland
 

Meet Kesha Stickland

Company:

The Mushroom Meat Co.

We’re making it easy for food producers to provide their customers with delicious and sustainable mushroom-based meats - that suit virtually any diet including vegan, paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, and more.

Startup Stage:

Pre-Seed

 

Location:

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

When did you launch the business?

November 2020

What led you to where you are today?

I transitioned to a plant-based diet almost 5 years ago to manage several health conditions and experienced the healing power first hand. I fell in love with mushroom growing and other forms of fermentation after turning to mushrooms to replace the meat in my family's diet. I spent the next two years working with my husband and co-founder to turn my hobby into a patent-pending technology that transforms mushrooms and upcycled plant proteins into mushroom-based meat analogs and clean-label ingredients.

What do you wish you knew before embarking on your entrepreneurial journey? 

I wish I knew how hard it could be to come into food tech as a women of color without a background in the industry. While knowing that I'd be treated differently wouldn't have stopped me from taking the leap (after all I spent over two decades in software while raising 3 boys), I think I might have transitioned more quickly and shrugged off some of the challenges more easily.

What is the most difficult decision you've had to make regarding your business so far? 

The most difficult decision I ever made was diving into the business full-time. It meant leaving the security of my strategy consulting job, a 20+ year career in software, and selling our family home. It was and still is a bit scary, but we're doing something we believe in. Plus, you only live once.

What can you help the VEGPRENEUR community with?

I spent most of my career in product development, researching markets and consumer behavior, and developing business models. I'm happy to provide tools and tips to those defining or redefining their business model, value proposition, customer personas, or other aspects of their business strategy.

How can the VEGPRENEUR community help you? 

I'm a first time startup founder and even though I'm not a solo founder (my husband is my co-founder), it can still be a challenging process. It'd be great to be able to share my thoughts, challenges and wins with others in the community.

Fun fact about you: 

I danced ballet for more than 17 years of my life. When I was young I thought I would become a professional ballerina, but life takes us in unexpected directions.

Anything else you would like to share?

It's been a long road to get here and we have quite a journey ahead of us, but if we can make it easier for just a few people to eat plant-based without compromising or if I can inspire other women who may not fit the mold to take a leap of their own...it will have been worth it.

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