Food-Tech Goes Vegan with Jennifer Stojkovic
As a food-tech leader, author of The Future of Food is Female, and the founder of the Vegan Women Summit, Jennifer Stojkovic is an amazing woman who continues to push boundaries. She began her career working with renowned Silicon Valley investor and founder of SV Angel, Ron Conway. Following her time there, she entered the food-tech market. Throughout her career she has worked alongside some of tech’s most well-known CEOs holding positions at Google, Microsoft and Facebook. In addition, she has also partnered with a number of fast-growing startups such as WeWork, Cruise and Postmates. Jennifer shares her career journey, what she has learned and the experiences she’s had along the way, all of which have shaped her into the food industry leader she is today.
Today’s episode is hosted by Diana Fryc of Retail Voodoo, connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianafryc/
-The Vegan Women Summit and its goals
-The motivation behind writing her book “The Future of Food is Female”
-The lessons and unforgettable experiences from her career
ABOUT THE GUEST
Author, Advisor, Founder of Vegan Women Summit
00:00 | Introduction
03:08 | The Vegan Women Summit
06:48 | Getting Attention
09:53 | Motivation to be a Part of the Movement
14:21 | The Future of Food is Female
25:52 | Exciting Experiences
30:49 | Moments That Stand Out
33:14 | On To The Next
36:04 | Women To Look Up To
37:39 | What’s Next For Jennifer
This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. A brand consultancy focused on building, growing and revitalizing brands in the food, beverage, health and wellness industries. If you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, please visit http://retail-voodoo.com/contact to set up a discovery call today.
Produced by Heartcast Media.
Diana: Hi, Diana Fryc here. I’m the host of the Gooder podcast, where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food, beverage, and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights into the industry. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo, a brand development firm providing strategic brand and design services for brands in the food, wellness, and beverage industries. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, RCI, PepsiCo, IKEA, and many other market leaders. So if your goal is to increase your competition by driving growth and disrupting the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call and let. Or visit our Web site at retail hyphen root.com. Well, super excited to introduce my guest today. Jennifer Stojkovic, Food Tech Leader, Investor Advisor, and board member of numerous startups and in addition, founder of the Vegan Women’s Summit and author of The Future of Food is Female. Prior to entering the food tech industry, Jennifer built her career under prolific Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway, founder of SV Angel. Jennifer has worked closely with the world’s largest tech firms such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, and with CEOs of high-growth startups like WeWork Cruise and Postmates. And most recently, she was an advisor on Richard Branson’s 2021 film, Eating Our Way to Extinction, which I hadn’t heard about. And I think I’m going to have to watch it this weekend. Hi, Jennifer, how are you?
Jennifer: I am. Well, how are you?
Diana: Good, thanks. Great. And you’re in L.A. today, is that right?
Jennifer: Yes. Very, very sunny and hot. It is over 100.
Jennifer: Yeah. Where are you?
Diana: I’m in Seattle. We were in the nineties and over 100. And then today is almost like fall. It’s pretty, it’s only in the low seventies. Today I will be in the low seventies. Over a hundred.
Jennifer: Yeah. This hundred is like 10 a.m. It’s 100 here. So L.A. is. And there’s places that are like 102. So I’m trying to. Yeah, yeah. Well, we could talk about climate change. There’s a lot to get into, but yes, California is hot, hot, hot, hot.
Diana: Well, yes, there is a lot to talk about. You are one of the leaders that I’m not sure many people in CPG necessarily know about and so super excited to bring you on board. There are so many different things we could talk about, but I. You started this a few years ago. What is the We Vegan Woman summit and why did you bring it to life?
Jennifer: So Vegan Women Summit, VWS, as we call it for sure, is a global media and events platform focused on inspiring women to build a kinder, more sustainable world. So what does that mean? That means that we are bringing women into the space to either be a part of starting a company, getting a job at a company, investing in a company, becoming a professional in the plant-based or future food space, or even just becoming an advocate for this industry. So we started about two and a half years ago. We had 250 women in a room in San Francisco, and we went from 250 women to almost 50,000 women across six continents since then.
Diana: Wow. And what do you do? My goodness. Okay. So, first of all, let me step back. Why the Vegan Women’s Summit at the time?
Jennifer: So it’s really a convergence of both my personal and professional life. So as you mentioned, professionally speaking, I have worked in Silicon Valley for seven years. Was doing lobbying in particular. So I see a picture of a very, very male-dominated industry and then take probably the most male-dominated aspect of it. Right. So bringing politics and tech together. So that is the world that I operated in. And it was a very male-driven space. And it’s no secret. Right? All of us know that. And so a few years ago, when I just started to see the food tech space start to gain a little bit of momentum, I thought to myself, Great, this is amazing. I can finally marry my personal passion, which I’ve been begging for eight years myself with the work that I do. And when I first started kind of dipping my toe into programming in the industry, I was able to get a lot of amazing feedback and bring a lot of really important people together. I worked with some of the top CEOs at all these companies in the space, but I looked around and realized that again, it was mostly men that were around me and it really did not look like a space for women like me or you, or really just like anyone that was outside of that very typical white male, kind of like almost tech bro, as we were kind of chatting earlier today, that’s what it looks like. And that’s large because a lot of the future food companies are based in the Bay Area and they came out of a lot of that same kind of tech ecosystem. Right. It wasn’t my intention. It was just very much the status quo. And so I wanted to create a space for someone like me. I wanted to create a space where women could come together and learn how to be professionals and leaders in the space. And so that was really the impetus for building us. There’s a lot we can learn from the tech industry and do right, and there’s a lot we can leave behind. And I think that is really where we shine as an organization and a platform.
Diana: Yeah, so interesting that your timing is in alignment with the My Gooder podcast platform because I was seeing those same two as we were discussing here a little while ago and it was just kind of like, Wait a minute. It’s happening like this. This shouldn’t be happening. And it was right at a pivotal time that a lot of other things were happening culturally within the United States. And so it’s a wonder, though, that it’s grain, the gain, the kind of traction that you have got. What do you attribute to that few hundred to 50,000 plus people in two years’ time? What is happening in the world that is getting the attention of what you’re doing here?
Jennifer: So the world in which we operate really is a lot of overlapping different spheres of influence. So first and foremost, people that are starting to pay attention to what’s going on in the environment, they’re starting to notice what they eat and its impact. Right. COVID was a great example of this. We suddenly started to see from a macro level what our food choices are doing to the planet, whether it’s through pandemics or whether it’s through droughts or wildfires, you know, hurricanes, whatever it might be, wherever you live, pick your flavor, but you’re starting to see that. So environmental sustainability, certainly one of those big fears, the next one being what you mentioned, I think alluding to about starting the podcast is there’s a massive, massive amount of people that are really quite fed up with the lack of resources and support and elevation of people of color, in particular, women of color. So we started from the get-go with a focus on elevating women of color in particular. To date, I think like 80% of all of our speakers, we’ve had hundreds that have come through have been women of color. And so when there started to be a huge movement towards supporting black founders, we already did so, so much and already had so many founders that were part of VW US. We had a ton of people that said, Oh, this is amazing. The beacon space is a space for black women who are really thriving. So a lot of people were excited by that. A lot. A lot. And actually, when things were happening back two Junes ago with the unfortunate murder of George Floyd, we had a lot of programming that we did actually as an industry in a community working with some of the most influential black leaders in the space of what can we do as an industry to support this and move forward? So that certainly brought a lot of attention to our work. And lastly, I think in addition to sustainability, in addition to DIY, there’s just like an overarching interest in just women, in general, being more empowered in the space, women in STEM, and just more funding towards women. Women founders still account for less than 3% of total venture capital funding. It’s shockingly low. It’s about 0.5% for women founders of color. So when you operate with all those overlaps, very oftentimes someone is going to find an introduction for themselves into the space. You know, perhaps you come for women’s empowerment and to learn about sustainability. Maybe you come for sustainability and learn about them. Right? That’s what’s so unique and powerful about the overlapping focus that we have.
Diana: Yeah. Tell me a little bit about just kind of your inspiration when I look through your kind of your path, your journey, you started out as being part of movements in an assistant sort of way or like in with and with the United Way. What is the influence that kind of catapulted you from being part of movements to driving movements? I’m finding I’m just super fascinated about this.
Jennifer: So the United Way, which was my very first before I got into tech, that was my very first job. And I ended up actually managing millions of dollars in grant programs and did a lot in community services. A completely interesting path out of school because I studied business law and venture capital, so I never intended to go into public charity. And then the three years that I spent there, I think are some of the most formative years that I ever really had in my career, because it has taught me a depth of understanding about how Americans live, how Americans eat that I think a lot of people in this space perhaps don’t understand. Right? I would have single moms with five children with bags on their feet come in looking for food banks and things like that. And when you have a greater understanding of how the good swath of Americans actually think about food, it’s really, how can I get food on the table? Not like what are all the ingredients in the food? Yes. You start to understand a more holistic view. Like you and I were chatting about before we started the recording of what we actually need to do in the food industry. So that really drove my view of what we need to do from a social aspect in the very inherent breaks in the system towards what are just terrible food options that are available to most Americans and the barriers that they face. So combining that with what I did in tech, learning about innovation, naturally, creating this impactful movement to spread innovation, but to spread it with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind, it just made sense. Like it’s literally marrying my two careers together. And so nobody was really doing it at the time and I thought, why not me?
Diana: Yeah, yeah, I, I love that. And there’s something that you said where, when you talked about the success of the program and. And your influence at the very beginning of your career. And I think a lot of people have those moments, those opportunities early on in their careers. But the fact that you listened to it and how it kind of pulled you forward, I think is really awesome because I think a lot of times people chase the dollars, and in your exit, at least what I think I’m hearing in your path was, yes, everybody’s motivated by financial success, but you made sure that you were following kind of a path that was connecting with you as well, and not just simply a means to an end. And I love that. I love that. I also am particularly for the audience, this listening, because this is something that I’ve been talking about over and over again. The success of the Vegan Women Summit kind of underscores the fact that our marketing practices and our innovation practices have continued to exclude an audience that is interested in participating in this natural and better-for-use space and whatever level works for them. And as adults, we don’t educate ourselves. Some people go out and find education, but most of us get educated through marketing. And if you need to look for an audience that needs the most amount of education right now, there’s a huge swath out there that has not been marketed to ever be better for you or very little about better for you and me. And the fact that you have an audience as large as you do, I think, just kind of underscores the fact that, yes, it’s out there. That’s validation. And what’s more, then you’ve had this traction with your summit and you have a book, The Future of Food is Female, which kind of takes those learning and kind of provides it in a format that we can all have easy access to. I haven’t read it yet. Apologies. I’m in school myself. I’m midway through an MBA program, so. But I believe the future of food is female too. But your direction overlaps mine, but kind of comes from a different angle. Was it the summit that inspired the book, or was it just that this is just an additional arm of information you want to get out in the market?
Jennifer: So there’s a lot that I could share there. I mean, at first and first and foremost, and I the entire first thing that you just shared about all the consumers that are not being marketed to. I actually started a whole conversation this morning on LinkedIn about you Hispanic. I was specifically talking about Hispanic and Latino plant-based products and how there’s basically no mainstream brand, despite the fact that I mean, Los Angeles is a Hispanic-majority city. The state of California was historically mostly part of Mexico. Texas is going to be about 40% Latino majority very soon. There are just so, so many consumers. It’s $2 trillion of consumer buying power that the Hispanic community has. Yeah. And there’s literally no mainstream plant-based brand. So I could dive into that for hours. It’s a huge issue and it’s across the board. Right. That’s just one microcosm of it. Every single community deserves culturally specific food products that are healthier and natural and plant-based and better for them. And most of them are being completely missed. So if you’re an investor or a founder that’s listening, Lee is like, take. He is like, if you are one of those people that say, I can’t find anything from the food I grew up with, you know, my nonna or, you know, obviously used to feed me, that probably means there’s an opportunity to.
Diana: Start a.
Jennifer: Business. It’s like it really ties in.
Jennifer: It’s huge. So I think that.
Diana: It’s very biased, too, because, I mean, we here we are a bunch of Caucasian Americans making food that’s fat and filled with sodium and filth because we believe that that’s a representation of the culture, which is absolute.
Diana: But so not only is it not only that we do not have a plant-based diet, but how many healthy versions of Mexican brands do we have other than like, you know, fast food restaurants that are out there, which is the closest thing to healthy. But I think, yes, absolutely a huge opportunity.
Jennifer: It’s absolutely huge. And I mean, and we could even like historically speaking, the vast majority of people like Mexican cuisine, like if you go back before colonizers came over, they didn’t really have dairy or anything. And so it was a predominantly plant for our diet. And that is just such a massive conversation that more people have to have that. So part of the book is bringing those conversations to light. So I discovered that putting together giant conferences and pitch competitions and Job Series, and we put together reports. So we put original data into the industry. We do the only women founder report on the future of food. So I talked to 150 CEOs every year and create big aggregate data on what’s going on with them and the barriers that they face, including bias and discrimination. Interestingly enough, all of that is amazing and it’s turning the curve. But the one thing that we were missing is media representation. We still don’t have strong media representation. And so I thought if all of these books are going to continue to focus on male leadership in the space, I just write my own. And that is what I did. It’s quite simple, nobody was writing a book on it. And so I decided to write my own. I sat down with 15 different women CEOs and venture capitalists. I became a member of the European Parliament, a celebrity. Every single woman that’s featured in the book is somebody that is changing the food system, as we know it. And you maybe have never even heard of them, which is crazy. Like, you know, and I say in the very beginning of the book, you may not know who these people are today, but I promise you the book that is in your hand will become a history book because it is the first to ever be written and it will not be the last. And I promise you, these women are going to change the world. And some of them I mean, even just to give you an example, they say, you know, so we talked about having an entire section on breast milk and creating coffee, breast milk essentially, which is a breast milk alternative that is bioidentical to human milk. So right now. Yeah. So right now this is a very interesting one because when you talk about the healthier and better for you it doesn’t really make sense for us to create a plant-based alternative. It should really be a human milk equivalent that babies should be having. Yeah. If you’re it because we are mammalian, you know, we’re mammals, so we have to actually consume our own milk. So I realize that there are many people that don’t have any other options. The vast majority of people are using dairy, and infant formulas and that in itself is a form of systemic racism because there are so many babies that are born in this country and around the world that can’t have dairy. Right? Upwards of 90, you know, between 70 to 90% of black babies that are going to be born this year can’t consume dairy. And the vast majority of them are going to be put on it within their first month. Right. So the vast majority of baby black babies that are going to be born this year in America, 70 upwards of 90% are not going to be able to consume dairy or infant formula, and they will be put on dairy infant formula because most black mothers in America have no maternity leave. Right. Right. So these babies are put on these products that make them sick almost from their very first day on the earth. And it’s very, very sad when you look at that. And so we sat down in the chapter and talked about why we need to make a real human milk equivalent for these babies to consume. And one of the things we talked about was an infant formula shortage. We talked about the issues and the disruptions that could happen. And lo and behold, we had an infant formula shortage for a year, and gosh.
Diana: Yeah, yeah. And, I’ve even gone further on to that because I’ve had a few other folks on my show that talk about food allergies and intolerances and how that is far more prevalent and dominant within the cultures of people of color because our diet is really kind of foundational on more European food culture and a lot of people of color because they are not being marketed to will not understand kind of some more nuanced food intolerances and will perpetuate, will give, give their kids products, give their family products and end up doing things like, well, if your tummy hurts, here’s some ginger ale, you know, there’s some this. And so we’re kind of starting at ground zero with this lack of education. I really think it’s a lack of education, and I think it’s ignorance on the part of a group of people because it’s so much easier to say, well, this is the way we’ve always done it. Well, you kind of have to go back to, well, why have we always done it that way to kind of go, Oh, maybe we should look at it differently, you know?
Jennifer: Yeah, of course. And, you know, it’s not difficult to see, especially in certain communities. There are massive shrieks of, you know, preventable lifestyle diseases that if a company did as well. And so, you know, health remains still. It does remain the most sought-after reason why people move to a plant-based diet. And so, you know, there’s ways that you can better package and market your products. Like, I do a lot of work with Dr. Bryce Harper. She’s a good friend of mine and she’s at a Harvard like Ph.D. that specifically has a Ph.D. on like the culture, geographies of food, or something really, really interesting. Yeah, I didn’t even realize this existed. And, you know, one reason I sit down and we talk about ways that plant-based and food products can be better marketing to say, the black community, the AAPI community, whatever it might be. You know, one of the things that she taught me that I had no idea is she was saying, you know, if you’re trying to reach more black consumers, one of the best things you can do is put dairy free on the package, because the first thing that they’re often told by their doctors is that dairy is an issue in particular. And so they will go out to find dairy-free or lactose-free testing. Yeah. Like just and just labeling alone can help open up your product to so many people. And there’s that’s just one nuance to so many more that follow that.
Diana: That’s fantastic. What, is it like? Is there any particular takeaway or overall takeaway that you want people to get when they read your book? Like, what do you want people to be inspired to do or think or behave?
Jennifer: So the last line of my introduction for books that pick up the book, you’ll see. I want everyone to know that they can be a part of the change and that every single time you pick up your fork you can be a hero and you can make the choice for the world that you want to see. It is not too big of a problem because quite honestly, every single one of us can be a part of being in the future that we want or being a part of what we don’t want to happen. And I think it’s really important for folks that feel that they feel powerless. Right. There are massive, massive institutions and systems around us that seem like they’re insurmountable, but they’re only insurmountable until they’re not. And that’s the reality of it. And there’s been a lot of there have been many, many insurmountable systems that we have been able to take down over the years. And the food system that we have built, both in the United States and across the world, is extremely exploitative of not only the Earth but the animals that are victims of it, and the people that are victims of it as well. We don’t have to continue this way. We really don’t. And I think from an environmental standpoint, a lot of people are starting to realize that because people that perhaps weren’t affected by changing climate, suddenly these last few years are and they’re starting to make that connection. So the book is really like a great guidebook to Here’s what’s going on everywhere. Here are some different technologies, and here are different policies. Here’s different ways you can make a difference. Figure out your path in 15 different ways women are doing it. You can find one of these paths too.
Diana: Yes, and I love it. Like, you know, we have so many men that listen to this podcast. And I always love the fact that they’re open to hearing from this perspective because really what it is, is women, we are such we’re so communal. Like we share information, we share feelings. We really take all of this knowledge that’s out there and kind of pass it along to everybody. And I think, you know, men, as you’re hearing this, those of you that maybe are not quite as social as many of us women are just, you know, in role women. To your marketer’s hands when you’re thinking about those new target markets, the information that could be really valuable for them as they consider themselves, consider some next steps and opportunities moving forward. Now, I’m curious. Yes, I’m curious for you, because you’ve made so much movement just in the last couple of years. I’m curious when you look back at the work that you’ve been doing and food tech in this kind of vegan vegetarian plant-based space, what have you most excited about?
Jennifer: That’s a hard question to answer because I am excited about it a lot. I’m really excited about it. There is so much to be excited about. There are so many brighter things to come. As you know, I think that we are creating a lot more inclusion when it comes to the types of companies that are getting funding. That’s like different systemic issues that I think are being addressed are starting. So one of the things that’s really important to me is a pipeline toward capital and investment. And so I do a lot, a lot of work in this and something really big to be announced very soon in this regard. I think that we need to make sure that more people with more ideas and more products that are targeting more problems in more communities are funded. And we’re starting to see that change. And I looked at people like Pinky Cole, who’s a friend of mine, she started being a slutty vegan. It is like the first vegan restaurant chain that’s in the South. And she very specifically targets food deserts, like very specifically, places that she targets, places that nobody wants to build a restaurant like ones that people think are toxic because they just say like, no, it’s terrible. Right? And she’s like a two-pronged approach. And she wins both ways, right? Because she gets really cheap real estate. And then by putting her own slutty vegan there, she improves the community itself, which then raises her own values, like it’s genius. Right? And she’s been doing this all across the south and she doesn’t go to she’s not in Los Angeles or Seattle or New York or like she’s in Birmingham, Alabama, you know.
Diana: To happen. Absolutely.
Jennifer: Exactly. So I look at someone like her and she’s like 98% of my clientele are black. 98% of my clients are vegan. And I just think she found a way to serve a community that was just waiting for somebody to speak to them. And if we could take Pinkney and replicate 100 or 1000 more, we can change the damn world. Yeah, I agree. Simple.
Diana: True. Yeah. And I think I mean, just listen. Something called the slutty vegan, right? Is that what it is?
Jennifer: It’s called slutty vegan.
Diana: Vegan. I think it takes the. The idea of veganism explodes the boundary. Just a name like this is no longer simply a political movement because there was a time when it was vegan and it wasn’t and it’s just only recently that it started to change that. Veganism was almost like a political and political or religious movement. And there’s a mix of it and there are still people that are really hardcore about animal rights and, and everything associated with that and the complete respect to that. But when it comes to the health of the planet in a more global way, that inclusivity and providing other opportunities into the club, so to speak, and making the club less, less small. That’s why my English is really good to be dogmatic. Yes. Yeah, like, fantastic. That’s more of what we need. It is that first. Yes, absolutely.
Jennifer: That’s what I believe. That’s such a huge part of the mission at VW. And in the book, I mean, about 40% of those who come to our conferences and, you know, we’re like a thousand people that come out. that’s how many we had at our last one. It’s one of the biggest food conferences in the world. Our next one, New York’s going to have 1500. These are really big, big global events that we do. 40% are not vegan. 20% are men. Interestingly,
Diana: That’s awesome. Well, I mean, shoot, we all go to conferences that are pretty male-dominated, so why not?
Jennifer: Exactly. That’s what I said. That’s exactly what I said. You know, people say to you so can men come and say, yeah, of course, they go, oh, so you’ve met at the vegan one with somebody? I said, Well, my stage is for women. Really, I think. Wow. So no, so no men at all. And I said, I mean, I’ve been to many conferences that are all men. You know, I kind of like, paraphrase Originator Ginsberg of like, yeah, you know, how many women will be enough speakers? All of them, because there have been all men and. No, but. Right.
Diana: Exactly. I love that. I love that. Okay. So I love this expansion of vegan is a playfulness of veganism that is really brilliant. And I love your inclusivity. Like you’re pulling from all different parts of the business. Like this isn’t just about food, this is about finance, this is about operations, this is about education, the whole bit. So that’s pretty fantastic. I don’t know if there’s any one way that you could answer this, but do you have any? Is there any one thing that stands out for you in these last couple of years? That happened, and it’s like I’m either the most proud of it or it’s certainly been the springboard for the explosion.
Jennifer: There’s so many things I will say. My book, The Future Food Is Female, premiered at number one in six categories on Amazon, which was pretty huge, including cutting environmental science and small business like very, very important categories. So that’s a pretty pinch-me moment. It’s my first book, so I’m already working off of my second one coming there. But I think, you know, just being the last summit that we did in April, just a few months ago in Los Angeles, and seeing celebrities and politicians and just all of these people in one space that were just so energized. Yes. To change things. Just don’t care who you are, or where you came from. I don’t care what you eat. I don’t care what you’re wearing. I don’t care. I know. It’s like I’m working with a lot of executives from like Tyson and Cargill and stuff these days, like talking to, you know, meat industry people. Now I’m like, I don’t care as long as you’re here, as long as you are here, you are part of the community. Everybody has a place in this community because every single person can be a part of making a better choice. Right. I tell people that it’s not about the binary of like be vegan or not being vegan. I think we should get past that. It’s about how we can make vegan choices that are accessible and desirable and yeah. And can be good for people. And so if we, if we make a choice at every single step of the way where the vegan one is the superior option, it already is in some ways, but we have a long way to go if we can make superior vegan ones every time we can make people into basically be like we don’t need to do the religious, the dogmatic aspect of it. It’s about consumerism and making consumers empowered to have good options.
Diana: Yeah, I agree. I agree. I’m this is so fun and fascinating. We’re coming up to the end of our time. Jennifer, So I have just a few questions that I like to really kind of ask everybody. I’m curious, what are you specifically for feeling wise? I know I used the word trend. I don’t mean trends in a trendy sort of way, but like, what are you watching? What are you hoping is going to, like, be the next thing? It could be in our category, or frankly, it could be in any category at all.
Jennifer: I’m paying attention to a lot of things. I would say that a few things that interest me right now, paying attention to the global changes to the food system with what’s everything that’s happening in Europe and how the industry is going to respond to that and adapt to that are a huge piece paying attention to what’s going on in Africa right now. A lot of people don’t realize, but within the next few decades, 50% of the continent of Africa is going to be in the middle class. It’s very, very, very quickly developing into a developed part of the world. And a lot of people aren’t aware of it. And, you know, that’s a great place for us to be innovating. And it’s a great place where we can leapfrog past some of the ails of North America, you know, some of the fossil fuels and the way that we produce like we can make it better for other parts of the world. So that’s a really interesting area for me. I’m really excited about everything that’s going on to help change like seafood as well. That’s an area that nobody is really focusing on. There are very few plant-based seafood options now. There’s a lot of cultivated seafood and I’m a diver so I’m a rescue so you are okay. Yeah, so I’ve actually got a lot of experience I’ve actually experienced dynamite fishing which is where they dropped TNT onto the reef system. And that’s why 95% of the Philippines have destroyed their reefs. Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize that. That’s how a lot of commercial fishing is actually done, especially in parts of Asia and near China in the Philippines. That’s how they catch a lot of that cheap seafood. They dropped dynamite into the ocean and blew up the reef and then the Dutch fish floated to the top. So I actually experienced a blast when I was in Malaysia four years ago. There was a blast nearby that went through all of our chests while we were there. So the quest for stopping the way that we fish is very, very near and dear to my heart. And I am all in on every single technology that I can find to help that.
Diana: Oh, my goodness. Wow, that’s huge. Okay. Yeah.
Jennifer: If it changes, it’ll change the way you eat. When you see and experience something like that, you’re like, what? You know, we were already vegan, but we had other divers that were like, Oh my gosh, are you telling me that I might have bought those products? And they’re like, Yeah, of course.
Jennifer: It’s just I have no idea.
Diana: Oh, my goodness. Okay, that I’m going to have to. I like having a moment. Okay. Thank you for sharing that. Are there any other women readers out there or rising stars that you would like to elevate? I mean, you already did it earlier today. But is there anybody in particular that you’d like to elevate for the work that they’re doing?
Jennifer: So obviously everyone loves Miyako because she has done an amazing job in the plant-based space. I think there’s a lot of other really incredible women beneath the water to partake in. Yes, she should be great for the podcast if you haven’t actually had her.
Diana: Had her and Miyako on already. Yes.
Jennifer: Okay. Okay. So, Denise, I’ve loved watching her rise and some of the work that she’s done partnering with HBCUs and things like that and creating a pipeline into CPG. For these students that historically probably wouldn’t have that is huge. So I love what she’s doing. I’m very excited. There’s a lot of really badass women scientists in Asia, especially in Singapore and Hong Kong, that are really eating like you. So a lot of the innovation that’s happening in the cultivated meat space that you hear about is in North America. Right. But there’s an entire massive ecosystem happening in Singapore, really. Almost all of you can actually read about Dr. Sri. She’s in my book as well. She has the biggest cultivated protein company in Singapore and it’s I think the biggest one in all of Asia. Like their technology and how fast they’re evolving. I think there’s a good chance, like, I honestly believe this. I think there’s a good chance that some of these companies are going to surpass our American extremely well-funded companies with what they’re able to accomplish down there. Yeah, that’s great. Well.
Diana: I’ll be looking forward to that. Oh, my goodness. What’s next for you? What should we be keeping our eyeballs on?
Jennifer: Well, we just announced the Vegan Women’s Summit. Our big global event is coming back to New York. So we’re going to New York City for the first time. It’ll be from May 18th to 20th. So you can go to the WC 2023 dot com. We want to have tickets out for a few months. We can get on the waitlist for pre-sale. We’re going to sell out. We always sell out. We’re bringing like 50 plus brands. Folks like impossible foods like milk go like all the top clam-based brands and all kinds of sustainable fashion. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And then I have a big announcement coming up soon of another thing that I’m working on that will be announced by Q4. I can’t quite say what it is yet, but it will be it: will change the game for underrepresented founders.
Diana: Oh, I love that. Okay. I have a couple of resources to send you in that regard as well for maybe working together or networking. But our time is running out. Listen, we’ve been talking with Jennifer Stojkovic, author, founder, advisor, Free Spirit, and Women on a Mission. Jennifer, where can people learn more about you and the work that you’re doing?
Jennifer: So we are literally everywhere. So if you go vegan, I’m in the summit dot com slash newsletter, which you can get on our weekly newsletter. We do Women Founder Wed Women Founder is the only newsletter that does the future of food, fashion, beauty, and biotechnology only focused on women leaders. So it’s really cool. We cover about 16 news stories every week. So every Wednesday in your inbox, we also are on every platform Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. You can find us at Vegan Women’s Summit or on Twitter at Veg Women Summit and a need. I am pretty big on LinkedIn. I’ve got a pretty large platform on there so you can find me under my name. I’m also Jennifer strike image dot com. If you want to learn more about some of my work and then I’m on TikTok and Instagram at Jenny Stojkovic do a lot of videos, viral videos, talking about these concepts.
Diana: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Jennifer. I am so happy to have met you. I feel like I have an email with a bunch of connections I need to make for you that I’m hooked, that you may already have them, but just in case and really excited about what you’re doing. And I want to thank all of the listeners who have been listening today. If you like this episode, please share it with a friend otherwise. Have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time on the Gooder podcast.