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Aiming at the “net celebrity” track of hundreds of billions of dollars, how does she make delicious artificial meat?


Source丨Interviewee Picture Design | Li Bincai Editor’s note: This article is an original report from the Entrepreneur State. The author Su Min edited Fang Yu. Unauthorized reprinting is prohibited. In May 2019, Beyond Meat (BYND), known as the “first share of artificial meat”, was listed on the Nasdaq. Not only did it soar on the first day of listing by 163%, it also set the best performance of U.S. stock IPOs since the financial crisis. It is recognized by a number of celebrity investors such as Bill Gates, former CEO of McDonald’s, and co-founder of Twitter. Beyond Meat was founded in 2009, and it took a full 10 years from establishment to listing. Coincidentally, this almost coincides with the time when Hong Xiaoqi, the founder of Shining Power, insisted on vegetarianism. The listing of Beyond Meat drove the popularity of artificial meat in the US market. At that time, Hong Xiaoqi, who was doing venture capital in Silicon Valley, keenly realized that the opportunity for artificial meat was here. She resolutely decided to return to China to start a business. The mainstream “artificial meat” is divided into two types, one is “plant-based artificial meat”, which is mainly made of plant protein and is called “plant meat”; the other is a “laboratory” cultured from animal stem cells. meat”. In April 2020, the plant-based artificial meat brand “Sparkling Power” was formally established. In August of the same year, Shining Power completed a seed round and angel round financing of nearly 10 million yuan. Investors include Shuangta Food, Silicon Valley UpHonest Capital, and Tiantu Investment. Four months later, Shining Power received a Pre-A round of financing of tens of millions of yuan. The investors were Microlight Ventures and Junsheng Investment. According to Hong Xiaoqi, Shining Power will complete the latest round of financing in July this year. In the early stage, Shining Power launched plant-based burgers, steamed dumplings, wontons and other products by entering many Internet celebrity restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Recently, it has launched plant-based hot dogs directly for C-end consumers, and some Many products are under development. Time to start a business is the most important Before founding Shining Power, Hong Xiaoqi had more than 10 years of vegetarian experience. In high school, she accidentally saw a documentary called “Citizens of the Earth”. The film systematically exposes the truth about animal husbandry, such as the process of a chicken from birth to entering the dinner table, all details are fully presented. This documentary has had a great impact on Hong Xiaoqi, and there are relatives around her suffering from hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia and other diseases due to excessive meat consumption. Whether it is from a value orientation or a health point of view, Hong Xiaoqi approves of the practice of vegetarianism. “I firmly said that I must be a vegetarian. My parents thought my behavior was very strange. They stopped me, but they didn’t succeed. I stuck with it and slowly became a habit and belief.” Because he is a vegetarian and has entrepreneurial and investment experience, Hong Xiaoqi has a keen sense of industry changes. The listing of Beyond Meat in 2019 has made the market and capital very concerned about the trend of artificial meat track. On the consumer side, on the one hand, consumers are paying more and more attention to satisfying their nutritional and health needs; on the other hand, people are becoming more aware of environmental protection. “The decision to start a business is mainly based on the judgment of the timing. I was working in the venture capital circle and had seen many entrepreneurial projects. A very well-known investor once said, Technology, team, and capital are all important in the entrepreneurial process, but the most important thing is timing. “Hong Xiaoqi said. However, she was an overseas student returning to China to start her own business. The biggest problem encountered in the early stage of her business was building a team. Hong Xiaoqi’s first startup company was in Vancouver, Canada, then in Silicon Valley, USA, and then back to Shanghai. Different regions and different industries make it difficult to form a complete team immediately. It was not until I found a co-founder with extensive experience in the food industry chain, and contacted the relevant technical professors and academicians who I met in Silicon Valley, that this problem was alleviated. However, as an international student, Hong Xiaoqi believes that he has certain advantages because of this. Because of understanding how overseas society works, she can better understand some conditions in the domestic society, and then feedback to her own business model. Hong Xiaoqi mentioned that because of cultural background, people in Asian society have prejudice against vegetarians, but American society is relatively more tolerant. Therefore, she will think about what kind of plant-based meat brand culture should be based on in different social cultures to impress domestic consumers. How domestic plant meat tells stories The beginning of Shining’s power has not been smooth sailing. The company’s official registration date is April 2020. Hong Xiaoqi told VentureBang that this time should actually be earlier. However, due to the outbreak of the epidemic in early 2020, she and her family were traveling in Japan, and all modes of transportation were suspended. She was forced to stay in Japan and the company registration time was delayed. In the beginning, Shining Force only had the R&D team. The first thing it did was to record all the products of more than 100 artificial meat companies around the world, from the ingredient list to the packaging to the price to the channels. Then analyze where the technical barriers of these products are, whether the supply of raw materials can be completed in China, and the possibility of mass production and production costs. After completing the analysis, Hong Xiaoqi found that as long as it does not make some special categories, such as seaweed vegetable protein and bacterial vegetable protein, mass production of vegetable meat in China can be achieved. In the field of technology, Shining Power is the first domestic plant meat company with an independent R&D laboratory. The R&D team is mostly from large factories and overseas returnees. Stretching plant protein into the shape and structure of animal protein is the core step of plant meat production. Foreign vegetable meat brands mostly use wet-process silk-drawing protein technology, while domestic brands still use dry-process technology. Shining Power also introduced China’s only plant protein wet extrusion technology team. However, after solving the most basic R&D and technical problems, the bigger problem facing plant meat is the business model. “Until today, whether it is investors, executives of listed companies, ordinary consumers or practitioners in the food industry, everyone will repeatedly ask us the same question, what should we do with the plant meat project?” Hong Xiaoqi believes that this is actually The selling point of plant meat is not clear enough, and everyone does not know enough about the business model of plant meat. The initial investment of Shining Power was in research and development, and the first financing was set up in the laboratory. When the foundation of research and development was firmly established, Hong Xiaoqi began to change his play style. Prior to this, the presence of artificial meat in the Chinese market mainly appeared in chain restaurants such as Starbucks and KFC. However, the chain of catering in China is only about 20%, which is much lower than that in the United States. It is not a good way to promote plant-based meat through B-end catering channels. Moreover, the plant-meat racetrack has only emerged in China for just two years. Hong Xiaoqi believes that it is still necessary to first launch retail products that directly face consumers, occupy the minds of consumers, and increase the repurchase rate by strengthening brand awareness. In addition, as a vegetarian, Hong Xiaoqi knows very well that there are only about 50 million vegetarians in China, and they do not pursue the taste of meat in their diet. In other words, The real target population of plant meat is meat eaters who have a desire for healthy diet. Therefore, she is more willing to position Shining Power as a brand that provides healthy eating solutions. The new plant-based hot dog launched is also a low-fat and high-protein product, and the eating method is simple, easy to carry, and can be used as a breakfast or a snack after work. . On the other hand, a stable supply chain is a problem that needs to be overcome in the development of artificial meat companies. And what the Chinese market has to face at the moment is not the stability and instability of the supply chain, but the question of whether there is a supply chain. It is understood that after Unilever decided to come to China, it looked for foundries throughout China, and finally found that very few of them could achieve large-scale production and passed the factory inspection, and finally chose Shuangta Foods. The latter is the world’s largest pea protein company and a core supplier of Beyond Meat. In this regard, Shining Power also occupies a certain advantage, because Shuangta Food is one of its investors. However, for products that Shuangta Foods cannot provide on the production line, it is difficult for Shining Power to find a foundry. This is a problem faced by domestic startups. Considering that future product development and iterative upgrades must have stronger control and barriers, building a factory with heavy assets may become a last resort. This has also led to the high prices of artificial meat products, and it is difficult to achieve scale effects before downstream demand rises. Hong Xiaoqi mentioned that the price of artificial meat produced by Shining Power is slightly higher than that of animal meat. “Only when the sales volume is large enough, we can reverse the research and development, feed back to the factory, and drive the development of the entire supply chain, will there be an outbreak of the industry. We are a large agricultural country. If the supply chain problem is solved, the plant will be able to The cost of meat is lowered.” The core of business success lies in balancing the interests of all parties Hong Xiaoqi said frankly that they needed money very much, and from the very beginning they decided to take the financing route. Different from other mature industries, making plant meat requires research and development, the establishment of laboratories, and a large amount of market research. Therefore, a large amount of investment is required in the early stage. The initial financing was not smooth. Many investors didn’t understand the track at all, and they didn’t know what plant meat was. They equated plant meat with dried tofu or vegetarian chicken. When Shining Power has truly made products and received market approval, and it has been listed as a carbon neutral project, more and more investors are coming to the door. “Almost every day, investors come to look for, but we still hope that investors can really be optimistic about the artificial meat track for a long time. They must be patient with this matter and have certain resources in the food track.” Hong Xiaoqi said. Hong Xiaoqi’s undergraduate major is politics and economics. When she was in school, she would think about how the human society works, why there are wars, why there is enough food or some people will starve to death… She found that the core element is that many people who change the world or determine the course of history are actually the people who know best to balance the interests of all parties. Because everyone has their own demands, the demands and interests of everybody are different from country to country, from enterprise to enterprise, and from enterprise to society. “How to balance the interests of all parties? I think this is the ability most needed for entrepreneurship, and it is also the biggest gain for me.” In Hong Xiaoqi’s opinion, The fundamental logic of plant meat is that nowadays the population is increasing and the demand for high-quality protein food is also significantly increasing. This is the inevitable result of diet upgrade. How to produce protein more efficiently has become an urgent problem to be solved. For example, after the African swine fever and the new crown epidemic, there has been a gap in domestic pork supply. In this context, a stable supply of plant meat has become one of the possible solutions. According to the report of Tianfeng Securities, the supply gap of China’s meat products will reach more than 38 million tons in 2030. If the penetration rate of artificial meat in the meat gap is 10%, the current domestic artificial meat price is about 56 yuan/jin, and the market size is expected to reach hundreds of billions in 2030. “Animal husbandry is an important source of carbon emissions. The efficiency of converting plant protein into animal protein is very low, but humans cannot control their desire to eat meat. If you only say that plant meat is nutritious, but it may not be so delicious, most people are unwilling to accept it. In the future society, plant meat will also become a balance point for the interests of all parties. “ Of course, it is too early to talk about competition in the domestic artificial meat market. In the long run, overseas giants may face restrictions such as trade policies, but they have the advantages of channels and scale; while domestic start-ups are more sensitive to consumer insights and have greater potential in product and brand polishing. In the long-term plan, Hong Xiaoqi positioned Shining Power as an “alternative protein company”, not just a plant meat company. What Shining Power has to do now is to find the reason for the repurchase of the product, and truly occupy the minds of consumers