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How Success Happened For Ethan Brown, Founder of Beyond Meat

Ethan Brown is on a mission to change what we eat and has built a $9 billion business in the process.

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I had the real pleasure of interviewing Ethan Brown, founder and CEO of Beyond Meat, the leading global plant-based meat company disrupting the $1.4T meat industry for my latest episode of How Success Happens

Tom Cooper | Stringer | Getty Images

Reinventing the world’s largest food category takes a powerful vision and relentless determination, yet what surprised me most about Ethan is how down to earth he is. With a strong yet approachable presence, it’s no wonder he’s been dubbed a humble, gentle Elon Musk. I realized quickly that his presence as the leader of Beyond Meat must play a major factor in the incredible culture he has built within the company.  I also realized that Ethan was on a mission. He had a purpose and what seemed like a life-long calling to offer people a healthier and more sustainable means to eat what they love by creating meat from plants. When an entrepreneur has a purpose and a mission, it can be the most powerful means to not only building a successful business, but creating paradigm-shifting ideas that revolutionize our lives as we know it.

Related: 5 Lessons for Food Startups From Beyond Meat's Stunning Success

So exactly how does one come up with the idea of creating plant-based meat in order to solve global issues related to human health, sustainability and animal welfare — and turn it into a $9 billion company with products available at approximately 122,000 retail and foodservice outlets in over 80 countries worldwide, not to mention one of the most successful IPO’s of the last decade? 

For Ethan, a former college athlete who often uses sports analogies to illustrate his point, there is the belief that the toughest and most important decisions are often made when one’s back is up against a wall. When competition heats up and the naysayers emerge, it’s a moment to rise above and achieve the unimaginable. I love how Ethan describes a pivotal moment when he was faced with cutting off his safety nets. As an entrepreneur cutting those safety nets can be one of the hardest things to do but it can also, like in Ethan’s case, be how success happens.

It’s that unflappable approach, along with an unwavering commitment to using only simple plant-based ingredients with no bioengineered ingredients, that attracts so many all-star athletes to the brand including Chris Paul, DeAndre Hopkins, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Lindsey Vonn, who have all seen the health and performance benefits of going plant-based.

Related: A Cup Of Ambition: Coffee Products Pour Into the Plant-Based Sector

Just last week Beyond Meat debuted its latest breakthrough in product innovation: a new Beyond Burger platform with two iterations of its plant-based burger. Similar to the range of nutritional options of beef currently available in the marketplace, the two versions are designed to offer more choice for consumers. The new Beyond Burgers include the brand’s juiciest patty for the meatiest burger experience even as it delivers strong nutritional wins relative to 80/20 beef with 35% less saturated fat, as well as its most nutritious patty yet with 55% less saturated fat than 80/20 beef. Both new burgers boast a savory taste profile, have lower overall fat and fewer calories than 80/20 beef, and have B vitamins and minerals comparable to the micronutrient profile of beef. The new Beyond Burger platform speaks so clearly to what the brand stands for — and to Ethan’s commitment to providing consumers with absolutely delicious plant-based meats that are better for people and the planet, no sacrifice required.