Joshua Tetrick is the CEO/Founder of Hampton Creek, a technology company pioneering in food and selected by Bill Gates as one of three shaping the future of food. It has a mission to bring healthier and affordable food to everyone, everywhere, using the world's first database of plants. Josh has been interviewed for his work with Hampton Creek by CBS This Morning, Travel Channel, Forbes, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, amongst others. Hampton Creek was recently named to Entrepreneur Magazine's list of 100 Brilliant Companies, CNBC's Disruptor 50 list, and Josh was also named to Inc. Magazine's 35 Under 35 list of top entrepreneurs for 2014.
How did you get into the tech industry?
It was kind of an accident. I started Hampton Creek thinking we would be in the food industry. Started working with chefs and food scientists. It was on a fluke chance that we hired a biochemist that led us to branch out into a deeper level of science and ultimately begin to use machine learning, data science, and the creation of our database of plants.
Tell us about Hampton Creek. What inspired the idea and how has your vision evolved?
I came back from spending about 7 years in Sub-Saharan Africa and felt like I had not made that much of a difference. My best friend is the Dir. of Food Policy at the HSUS and one of the biggest problems they have there is getting large corporations to switch from battery cage eggs to cage free. So, then we thought – what if we just used plants to make food better? And now we are looking at many ingredients in food to see what we can use plants for to improve it: food dye, sodium, sugar, and more. It’s not just about eggs anymore.
What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Hampton Creek's success?
We have built many great partnerships, but most recently is the one with the Compass Group to create and serve a better cookie to colleges, hospitals, and restaurants, all over America.
How is Hampton Creek revolutionizing the food-tech industry and gaining such awareness? Discuss marketing/social media strategies.
We’re using a truly unique blend of science: machine learning, with biochemistry, with bioinformatics, with culinary, and food science. Nobody is doing this. And it’s working for us. Our marketing and social media is not to push products – but to build a movement around what we’re doing. People care about food. It’s very personal. And we’re trying to embrace these emotions in all of our marketing.
What are your proudest moments as Founder/CEO of Hampton Creek?
Probably when we first saw Just Mayo, our first product, on the shelf at Whole Foods. It was crazy after all this work to actually see your product on the shelf. I wanted to push every customer walking by right to it. Really amazing.
What industry trends have you noticed and how do you capitalize on them? What products does Hampton Creel have available?
I think there is a general push in using technology to improve social problems. We’re using it in healthcare and education, why wouldn’t we use it to improve food, too? Right now, we have a mayo (in four flavors), Just Mayo, an ingredient that is 48% cheaper than a conventional chicken egg, a cookie for food service (Just Cookies), and are about to launch a consumer-facing cookie dough (Just Cookie Dough).
People are not bad or the problem. It is the systems we surround ourselves in that are and if we can make it easier for people to make better choices, we can have impactful change on the world.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Don’t give up. It will be hard, you’ll be tired, it’s stressful, but it is truly amazing. Also, when you go to raise money, never approach an investor or VC blindly. Always get an introduction. Always.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Coffee and bagels. I can’t stop either. It’s a problem.
Role model - business and personal?
Big Richard Branson fan. What he has done to revolutionize travel is unbelievable. Also, I’ve always loved Michael Jordan. My favorite number, as everyone at Hampton Creek knows, is 23. (they’ll laugh when they read this).
What literature is on your bed stand?
Just finished Peter Thiel’s new book, “Zero to One” – highly recommend it. He’s a great guy, too. Have been lucky enough to meet him a few times.
What's next for Hampton Creek?
We’re raising our Series C round of funding which is pretty exciting. We’re also working on renovating the new headquarters we leased in the Mission so we can hopefully move our whole team there by the end of the year – there’s almost seventy of us now. We also are looking to do some cool new products so stay tuned…
Josh has garnered attention for his skills both as a spokesperson and a businessman. At the 2013 Disrupt San Francisco conference sponsored by TechCrunch, Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, referred to Tetrick as "an awesome entrepreneur." Tetrick's leadership skills have allowed Hampton Creek to grow rapidly and flourish, raising $30M to date, including over $15M from Li Ka-shing, the wealthiest man in Asia. Tetrick has also led Hampton Creek to secure deals with eleven Fortune Five hundred companies, remarkable for a company just over two years old.
Prior to founding Hampton Creek, Josh led a United Nations business initiative in Kenya, worked for both former President Clinton and the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and taught street children as a Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria and South Africa.