Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jody Boyman, Co-Founder of Hungry Planet, located in St. Louis, MO, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Hungry Planet makes the widest range of chef-crafted plant-based meats for food service and retail. Quite simply, we have upgraded meat by making it directly from plants, circumventing the use of animals altogether. We are the first to offer authentically delicious plant-based meats with demonstrably superior Nutritionals that perform spectacularly as a 1:1 substitution for conventional meat in any cuisine and any recipe - globally. Our customers are typically flexitarians (there are 140 million just in the United States) or other "plant-curious" folks who, for health, environmental, or animal welfare reasons, want to incorporate plant-based meats in their diet. We uniquely check all those crucial boxes.

Tell us about yourself

I was born an animal lover and have been plant-based for 45 years. In St. Louis as a kid, I rescued all sorts of animals, including earthworms struggling on the pavement after a storm, birds falling out of their nests, and dogs dumped on the side of the road. From an early age, during family meals, I'd ask my mother, "Who did this used to be?" (Not so popular!) Fast forward a few years, and I'd begun taking Dolly Parton's advice to heart: "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose." I have always been keenly interested in the intersections between animal welfare, environmental justice, and human health. A few years ago, after successful careers as a wildlife photographer and psychotherapist, I was eager for the next chapter and felt compelled to dive wholeheartedly into something that would move the needle significantly - and in my lifetime. To that end, Hungry Planet began as a passion project - to make a better, more just, and sustainable world. My sibling co-founder, Todd Boyman, and I have a deep and abiding hunger to feed a healthy, hungry planet. We decided to build a platform for positive change, one where people could eat their way to a healthier planet - while staying true to our deepest values. We set out on a mission to craft a wide range of proteins to feed our growing human family, prevent environmental destruction, avert global pandemics, and reduce animal suffering. Our mission is simple: to bend the curve on personal and planetary health with the only full range of delicious and nourishing plant-based meats.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Building an incredible team of accomplished and dedicated people, enabling us to reach more and more people. I love delighting professional chefs and home cooks alike with our delicious and nutritious plant-based meats. More often than not, they are incredulous and can't believe they are eating meat from plants. It's particularly fun to punk friends of my kids when they're sharing a meal at our house; they simply can't taste the difference.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is the level of sustained dedication, the nearly single-minded focus required - to the exclusion of much else. The simplest way I can put it is I can't NOT do what I'm doing. I am driven from my core to do everything possible in my lifetime to make the world a better place. The alternative is untenable. I believe that our collective food choices have the power to heal our world, so my daily objective is to meet people where they are while inspiring them to make positive changes, even if it's one nudge at a time.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know that being an entrepreneur is hard work. Much harder than anyone can possibly imagine - even if you're intently focused and perfectly positioned at the right moment in time in a hot category. Give yourself some slack, take time to recharge, and keep a few good friends close.
  2. Build your support network before you need it. Building great businesses requires great people; it is all about the team. To get started, you need vision, drive, focus, and a wide variety of talents and skills. But, at a certain point, it will become abundantly clear that you need more capability and bandwidth. So, be sure to nurture a strong support network of accomplished, mission-aligned people who can provide advice, provide a lending hand, and help you figure out what you can't (and shouldn't) do all by yourself.
  3. What problem do you want to solve? Do your research and network until that comes into clear focus. Pick your business partner(s) carefully, and make sure you have complementary skill sets. I feel very fortunate to have partnered with my brother, Todd Boyman, who is also our CEO. We decided that since food (meat in particular) is humankind's biggest common denominator, and thus our biggest opportunity for positive change, we would focus there. If we can somehow manage to feed 80 billion land animals annually (who wind up on our plates), we can certainly find a way to feed our growing human family of 8 billion in a sustainable, healthy, and just way.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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