Aug 1, 2022
At age 18, Jeff Nobbs founded an ecommerce company, building it into a valuable enough startup that it was acquired in what Jeff calls a “life-changing” event. After then opening a restaurant that now has two locations in the Bay Area, Jeff decided that there’d be a third entrepreneurial act in his life, this time focused on fixing fat.
What’s wrong with fat today? Well, Jeff argues that the way we grow plants to make oils like palm, soy, coconut, canola, and more is just pretty taxing on the planet. It’s often not that good for us, either. So instead of farming plants to extract the tiny amount of fat that’s in them, why not just farm microbes that produce vast quantities of fat and save a lot of land in the process? It would be especially beneficial if these microbes were adroit at making monounsaturated fats, or the so-called “good fats” we associate with avocados, olives, and so on.
It turns out that producing fat via microbial fermentation is pretty efficient. A life cycle analysis conducted by Jeff’s new company, Zero Acre Farms, found that their fermentation process uses far fewer resources than farming soybeans, which are a pretty efficient plant.
Founded in 2020, Zero Acre Farms now has three dozen employees and just closed a $37 million dollar financing round. Its first product, a cultured oil, is now available to purchase from their web site. I tried it in my own kitchen and can attest that indeed, the oil performed and tasted quite good.
It’s an impressive journey that Jeff’s been on, and with tens of millions of dollars now at the mid-30s CEO’s disposal, it’s sure to be quite a ride as they scale up and see how many acres they can free up by switching the world to their lower-footprint fats.
In this episode, Jeff recommends
More about Jeff Nobbs
Jeff has co-founded several startups to offer better quality ingredients and nutrition-forward food to people and communities, including the fast casual restaurant chain Kitava. In 2020, after seeing a drastic decrease in accessibility to fresh food, Jeff co-founded HelpKitchen to connect food-insecure individuals with partner restaurants for a free meal via SMS. Jeff also served as the chief operating officer for Perfect Keto and General Manager of Rakuten, which acquired his first company Extrabux.