Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Starting a Food Company
without Knowing Anyone in the Industry

Matt Feldman is the CEO and Founder of Moku Foods and a Forbes 30 Under 30 winner in Food & Drink. Moku Foods turned the mighty mushroom into a jerky that looks and tastes like meat. Each 2oz bag has 6g of protein and 9g of fiber.

Growing up on Oahu, HI I was always very passionate about sustainability and how our individual choices impacted both the island and our planet. I knew that when I would grow up and start my own business, I would incorporate sustainability into it in some way.

Fast forward to 2019, I was living in San Francisco working a tech job and decided to shift to a plant based diet after watching a couple documentaries on what the beef industry was doing to destroy forest land and negatively impact the planet. I was looking for an alternative to beef jerky and couldn’t find one, so I started making it myself…using mushrooms. After sampling it to family and friends and getting solid feedback, I decided to pursue it as a business.

Because I didn’t have an existing network in the industry, I reached out to just about every Food & Beverage founder in the Bay Area to set up coffee dates where I would soak up as much knowledge as possible. Eventually, I met the Head of Product Development at JUST, and after our meeting, he agreed to help me develop my jerky. Once our prototype was ready, I went back to the same network of founders to share the product and hear their feedback on it. These founders from Thrive Market, Casper, Soylent and Juneshine became the first investors in Moku.

I was super excited to get early cash from such big name company founders, but I still had NO idea how to scale my jerky manufacturing. Eventually, I found an ops veteran, Melissa Faccina, and she came on as a Moku Co-Founder and runs the back end operations. It took some doing, but we reached out to just about every jerky co-man out there and finally got one to take a bet on us. They agreed to help us commercialize our vegan jerky at scale – after 18 months of ups and downs, we FINALLY hit our stride and started making jerky in large batches! Having launched just over 6 months ago, we’re now live on mokufoods.com, Amazon, and will be launching on Thrive Market in September.

Networking is key to getting your small CPG off the ground – and Startup CPG is a great way to expand your list of industry people who can give you advice along the way!

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