Can a burger be both healthy and sustainable? In this episode of Profit to the People, founder Courtney Boyd Myers joins us to talk about how she maxed out her million-dollar campaign through Republic and launched the world's first kelp burger with AKUA, her brand of sustainable sea greens-based foods.
Courtney has been named one of Business Insider's 30 Most Important Women Under 30 In Tech and one of Business Insider's 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter.
In her quest to build a consumer market for sea greens, Courtney learned all about the environmental and economic benefits of growing kelp, a species of edible seaweed full of vitamins and minerals. She always wanted to pursue a career in something that would address climate change, and sea greens-based foods proved to be the perfect fit.
There's a shift happening in the way consumers are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars. Courtney believes that people are demanding more from brands regarding sustainability and health benefits every day.
AKUA's mission is to address these demands by introducing a delicious, healthy, and environmentally friendly kelp burger.
Tune in to this week's episode to learn more about Courtney's journey, her advice for newcomer entrepreneurs, and her aims to scale what could be one of the most important agricultural industries in the context of climate change.
Why kelp farming is the future of sustainable agriculture
If you've never heard of a kelp burger before, don't worry—you're not alone. However, many consumers are looking for healthier, sustainable meat alternatives and this virtuous sea vegetable is proving to be a fantastic option.
The reason? First of all, kelp has the perfect combination of flavor and health benefits. Kelp burgers taste great while offering a fair amount of vitamins and nutrients. In addition, kelp farming is one of the most promising industries in the future of sustainable agriculture—a critical factor in a world facing severe ecological crises due to climate change.
When first starting as an entrepreneur, Courtney knew she wanted to build a food company with the mission to address climate change. It didn’t take long to find the perfect match.
While working as an advisor to Greenwave, a non-profit supporting the regenerative ocean farming industry, Courtney had the chance to jump on a boat and visit a kelp farm.
She was hooked; she knew right away that was precisely the type of food company she was meant to create.
By founding AKUA and pioneering the first sea greens-based burger that offers such ecological and economic benefits, Courtney fulfilled her vision of a company that aligns purpose and profit.
Today, AKUA's core focus is around products like kelp burgers and kelp jerky, but soon they'll be marketing more sea greens-based treats, like vegan kelp crab cakes!
The best way to create a consumer market
Seasoned entrepreneurs know that creating a consumer market is no easy feat. This is especially true when you don't know exactly who your target market is.
Courtney faced the challenge of getting people to know and try AKUA's kelp burgers. Initially, some people were hesitant to try a burger made of seaweed they had never heard of.
However, she felt so confident in her product that she was determined to let every single person on her Republic campaign page try the burger before the campaign ended. Her efforts paid off: Courtney gladly recalls that as one of their best sales days.
As an entrepreneur, providing your business with a greater purpose is essential for creating a consumer market. People want to be part of something that has a positive impact on the world.
By developing a marketing strategy focused on the greater mission of improving the planet's health, Courtney put together a community of enthusiastic investors who now actively promote the product and share samples among their families and friends.
Why Courtney chose Republic for her crowdfunding campaign
Courtney describes her experiences with traditional fundraising, especially during the pandemic, as 'brutal.' After scraping the Internet and making countless phone calls, she raised only about $300,000 for the company.
So when she decided to take the crowdfunding route with Republic instead, she thought that hitting $300,000 with her campaign would be a huge success. To Courtney's surprise, her campaign hit the $100,000 mark after just a few days and eventually reached the $1 million cap. She was thrilled the campaign had such an amazing reception.
Courtney recalls investors telling her: "I don't really know if it's going to pan out, but I don't even care. I love this mission so much.” Courtney believes this shows the power of equity crowdfunding and the democratization of startup backing. People get the chance to support a startup they care about, even if it's by investing as little as $200, while also learning about the world of investing and entrepreneurship.
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