Formo, for me, was really born out of courage. I’d worked, and studied, but never quite found the job which helped me bring my personal values totally into my work life to create a big impact.
I’ve been plant-based for years—not because I don’t enjoy cheese, or steak, I totally do—but because sustainability is really important to me, and I’ve been searching for a way to put that boldly into action.
This is where courage comes in. It takes courage to dedicate yourself totally to what you care about and stand up for what you believe in. You’re constantly surrounded by the thoughts of “am I old enough to do this? Am I experienced enough? Is now the right time?”, there’s so many deterrents and moments where you self-censor.
I found myself able to overcome this fear, and find the bravery through the people around me. That’s exactly the environment I want us to live at Formo, where we can give each other the courage and confidence to overcome our fears to shape something new, and put our passions confidently into the work we do.
This is super-important when we consider the mission we’ve set and the industry we are in: bringing the future of food to life.
Whether we’re talking about countries or companies, currencies or marriage, so many things that define our lives are man made or socially constructed. The challenge we face at Formo—and why I think what we’re doing is courageous—is to break down one of the biggest social constructs in existence: that we need animals to produce animal products.
We want to lead this transformation with confidence, and treat this positive future of the food system as something people will want to be a part of.
We have domesticated animals for thousands of years to produce products for us. But due to an unsustainable global demand, the food system that developed around animals is completely detached from what people intended. Going against the belief that we need animals for food is the most challenging thing about what we do.
But we’re not out to start a revolution, we’re simply looking to evolve what’s already there.
Instead of animals having to sustain energy-consuming bodies and functions to produce proteins for us, we’re taking microorganisms that are perfectly designed to do the same job, just more efficiently. You could say it’s the same domestication, only we’re doing it in a fermenter, not a field.
We want to lead this transformation with confidence, and treat this positive future of the food system as something people will want to be a part of, not inherently scared of. If we can create great products, and communicate them well, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
One idea we keep with us is the idea of evolution, and what it means to be a young company, working in an emerging sector, in a rapidly changing world.
Science and technology move forward in a mix of predictability and great leaps, and we need to keep an open mind, being responsive enough to accommodate new processes, discoveries and changes in perception.
It starts with investors, and ends with cheese-lovers, but it’s also a collaboration with ‘competitors’. We’re shaping this environment together.
We do that by working with others to make the vision a reality, it’s a 360° project.
It starts with investors, and ends with cheese-lovers, but it’s also a collaboration with ‘competitors’. We’re shaping this environment together. We work with governments, and food regulators (subsidising the ‘old economy’, unlocking public money for food system advancement), NGOs and media (Do we get fair coverage? Are we top of mind for people who consume media?).
It’s also the suppliers and biotech as much as traditional agriculture and big food. It’s a whole ecosystem that needs to be onboard. Someone needs to produce nutrients. We need to convince everyone. We need to reach a critical mass of believers, and once that happens, there’s no boundaries to what you can do. The technology and capital is there.
We give them the energy to be a part by sharing our vision of the future fearlessly, and their role within making it possible through this evolution in thinking and making.
That’s what it really means to evolve without fear — to maintain a bold, confident vision, including others in the project, and being powered by the passion and courage to really make change happen.
Raffael Wohlgensinger is Co-Founder and CEO at Formo (formerly Legendairy Foods) and this article is one part of a series exploring the future of dairy through the lens of Formo's DNA.