The Friday Nooner—GrepBeat’s weekly livestream show covering tech news in the Triangle and beyond—returned after its summer hiatus with Pete, Joe (aka the GrepBeat Godfather) and frequent guest co-host Chantal Allam of WRAL TechWire all feeling refreshed from their time away. The trio welcomed guest Ryan Bethencourt, the CEO of vegan pet food company Wild Earth (among other things).
Last year, Wild Earth raised $23 million in funding and moved its headquarters from Berkeley, Calif., to Durham. Ryan talks about Wild Earth’s upcoming plans and his other projects like Sustainable Food Ventures, a Triangle-based private equity firm that backs early-stage food entrepreneurs who are creating cell-based, recombinant, and plant-based food companies.
Here are some highlights from this week’s episode:
- Pete, Joe and Chantal started out discussing local tech news. Recently, Triangle unicorn and analytics software startup Pendo laid off 5% of its workforce, a total of about 45 jobs. The company roughly doubled its headcount last year to nearly 1,000 employees; however, CEO Todd Olson says that worker growth has begun to overtake revenue growth in a few newer revenue initiatives. Joe said he was not surprised by the cuts, and from a financial standpoint, it was a wise move to refocus their resources on their core products given the uncertain funding environment for companies of its size over the next year or two.
- Ryan wears many hats, but is best known for his company Wild Earth, which was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank (which led to a deal with billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban). Its fungi-based pet food products require fewer resources than farm animals to deliver the same nutritional value. With his background in science, Ryan shares how he got into the pet food industry, as well as his insight into the Triangle’s biotech hub and its growing tech ecosystem.
- He also discusses being a managing partner at Sustainable Food Ventures, plus his new micro fund called Layer 1 Ventures focused on startups in “Web3″—a concept where (very broadly speaking) the internet would be powered by blockchain technology that could open up easier and more friction-less payment systems, among other things.
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