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Join host Paul Shapiro as he talks with some of the leading start-up entrepreneurs and titans of industry alike using their businesses to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Dec 15, 2022

Is Sugar by Another Name Just as Sweet? Ali Wing and Oobli Are Fermenting Their Way to a Sweet Protein Future

We all know that eating too much sugar isn’t good for us, but millions of years of evolution led us to love sweet foods. After all, they provide us with a quick boost of energy needed in an ancestral environment where we were largely active throughout the day. Of course, today most people in the developed world are far from being active all day, yet we still crave sugar and eat it in an abundance far greater than what was available to our distant ancestors from whom we descend.

There’ve been plenty of attempts to create sweetness without the negative effects that go along with eating the refined sugars we seem to love so much. From older products like aspartame to newer ones like stevia or allulose, a pot of gold awaits those who can help humanity satiate our sweet tooth without contributing to the health crises we now face.

To that end, we’re talking today with Oobli CEO Ali Wing about her company’s efforts to commercialize the world’s first sweet proteins. Yes, you read that right: sweet proteins. In 2022 Oobli closed a $25 million Series B round, bringing the company’s total fundraising to date to $40 million. 

So, how do they create sweet proteins? As you’ll hear Ali describe in this episode, some plants naturally produce proteins that happen to be sweet as an evolutionary trick. It’d be difficult to mass produce those plants, but via microbial fermentation, Oobli has figured out how to produce the bioidentical proteins themselves. 

I had the pleasure of enjoying some of Oobli’s pre-market products and I certainly couldn’t tell the difference myself. I was especially excited to try the company’s chocolate bar which tastes as sweet as a full-sugar bar, but with 70 percent less sugar. 

It’s an exciting way to sweeten the food industry without turning our health sour. I think you’ll enjoy hearing Ali tell you the story of how she and her team intend to make your life, and your health, a little bit sweeter.

Discussed in this episode

More about Ali Wing

A growth CEO, Ali is best known for tackling big consumer problems, brand strategy & building high performing, agile teams. Specializing at the intersection of consumer brands, technology & healthy living, Ali’s value creation track record crosses CPG, retail, technology, healthcare & biotech. 

Ali is currently the CEO & Director of Oobli, Inc., a food technology company leveraging precision fermentation to disrupt sugar. Prior to Oobli, Ali served as the Chief Consumer Officer of Bright Health Group, EVP of Digital/Chief Brand Officer at Ascena Retail Group, Founder/CEO/ Chairwoman of giggle, an EIR for a variety of venture-backed consumer software & technology companies & a Corporate Securities Attorney in the Silicon Valley. 

Ali launched her career at NIKE in brand leadership & strategy. In addition to her operating role at Oobli, Ali currently serves as an independent director on the boards of Casey’s General Stores (NASDAQ: CASY) & Worldwide Orphans (WWO), & acts as an advisor to several growth technology companies. 

Previously Ali served as an independent director for Bazaarvoice (NASDAQ: BV) until it was sold to Marlin Equity in early 2018. Ali lives in the California with her husband, has an only son in college & holds a dual JD / MBA from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. 

Ali has completed Harvard Business School’s 2020/2021 Corporate Governance Certificate Program & was recognized among Women's Inc Top 100 Corporate Board of Directors in 2019.