Origin Story Interview W/ Insa Mohr, Mooji Meats

Origin Story Interview W/ Insa Mohr, Mooji Meats

Brighter Future


Nov 2, 2022

#BrighterFuture #entrepreneurship #Sustainability #ClimateChangeSolution #originstoryseries #seekthechange #meatalternatives #plantbasedmeat #PlantBased #LabGrownMeat #SustainableEating #CleanMeat #EthicalEating

Brighter Future

Today, we're thrilled to be joined by Insa Mohr from Mooji Meats, a company using the latest technology in 3D printing to bring whole cuts to the plant-based and lab-grown meat industries.

Hi Insa, thank you for joining us today. Before we get to what you are all about, would you like to briefly introduce yourself and your business?  

My name is Insa Mohr. I'm originally from Germany, but my company and team are located in the US. I started a company called Mooji Meats, bringing whole cuts to the plant-based and lab-grown meat industries. We officially launched at the beginning of 2022 but have been working on it since last year.

From Germany to the US, then starting your own business, that's quite a journey. Can you tell us a little about where it all began?

My journey started in early childhood. I'm from a typical traditional German family of post-Second World War farmers. My generation was the first to turn vegetarian—Initially my sister, me, and then my cousins. We realised it was the only logical thing to do regarding ethics and health. It took the older generations some time to understand the concept. I believe they associated vegetarianism with being fussy or not being grateful for what was on our plate. Most of them had grown up in poverty, so this thinking was completely understandable.

Early on in my life, I wished that we as a society could talk about sustainability, ethics, and healthy diets as something positive instead of people almost perceiving it as offensive if someone chooses to be vegetarian.

So from the beginning, you faced challenges with perceptions starting your own family. Did this, along with your passion for sustainability, ethics and a healthy diet, contribute to the decision to set up your own business?

I turned vegetarian for environmental reasons and for animal welfare reasons. However, I never gave up my love for meat and food in general. I worked for a large biopharma company that became the first large company to enter the lab-grown meat market. I saw the opportunities and the challenges to overcome. I knew our co-founder from an engineering school in the US, and I knew that the technology he worked on was what we needed to overcome one of the biggest challenges. I also worked as a management consultant for many years, and I guess I just knew how to validate whether it was a good idea and how to get started.

Starting a business during a global pandemic must have had its challenges?

I was quite surprised by how well everyone adjusted to working online so easily. I think there were, and still are, some challenges. The supply chain, for example, was delayed and is still taking longer than it used to.

That's the case for many businesses and continues to be. Setting up a business during unprecedented times was a great achievement. So, who would you say you are doing this work for, and why should they care?

I would say that we do this for everyone, but if I had to pick a group of people, I'd say it's people that want to live healthier and more sustainably but still love meat. There is nothing wrong with that. We definitely shouldn't point our fingers at them, but instead, provide the solutions to support people by making it easier to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

I once read an interesting article that said people are most offended if their lifestyle is criticised because it's such a private and personal thing. I think that's very true for diets.

What do you find most fulfilling about the work you do?

Everything we do contributes to creating a more sustainable future, and I like nothing more than working on a new project. I think the fact I never have to ask myself, 'what is the purpose of what I'm currently doing?' makes it very fulfilling.

You have clear convictions and goals with your business. Was there ever a time you decided to do something differently, either in your life or work, or take a completely new direction?

Starting a company was a big step. In my perception, I did not start something completely different or took a new direction; it was more like the next logical step to achieve what I want in my life and for personal development. So, I think of it more like, “I've learned how to assess markets, build teams, manage projects, and have built a solid career; now, I should use this for something else". And I believed I was ready.

Having already built a solid career with many transferrable business skills, did this help give you the confidence and perspective to come up with a new idea and build upon that to where you are today?

It's a tough question. My background in the life science industry especially in bioprocessing and bioprinting definitely helped. And I do think I can be a very ideological person and sometimes a bit of an emotional thinker. But at the same time, I can also deal with business numbers and love to dig deeper into the science of what we're doing.

It's probably the result of being in diverse environments. I studied business and information technologies and have lived in six different countries.

In management consulting, for example, projects could require a lot of logical skills, empathy, and people management. I think it really helps to have multiple diverse perspectives and attributes in your work.

You clearly have many attributes and a diverse range of skills, making for a good all-around business developer. Would you say these skills came naturally to you as a person or were they learnt along your journey?

If you ask my parents, they would say it's a trait as I have been this way since childhood. I was brought up in a great environment that enabled me to nurture and develop my skills further. When I was younger, I read a lot about nutrition and livestock farming. So again, it's a combination of different influences.

With Mooji Meats, what were the biggest challenges or even mistakes that you made?

Maybe not a mistake per se, but when we did our first round of fundraising, the markets crashed, and it looked like the whole funding environment would change for a long time. We didn't consider this would happen to that extent. So now we have a contingency plan to fall back on. Some say you only have to have a plan A because having a backup plan shows you're not determined enough, but I think if an initial plan doesn't work, then having plan B can be very helpful.

Your determination to succeed is apparent, but having a backup plan seems sensible, as you never know when changes may occur. Throughout your journey, were there any big epiphanies or 'Aha' moments that were important to your direction or path?

An emotional moment for me was when I first saw the technology, a scalable 3d printer we were using in action, in real life. I've seen the current market standard before, so at the time, I thought, 'That's it!'. That's something big.

A sometimes difficult part in a startup is finding the right team or partnership; how did you get to know your co-founder?

I knew what I wanted to do and the direction I wanted to take, but us meeting was a huge serendipity. So, I moved to the US and planned to network, mingle for a while and figure out exactly what I would do next. I met my co-founder on my first night in Cambridge at a house party; after talking for five minutes, we knew we would be perfect to start a business together. He knew with my business and life science background, that there was something worth pursuing.

I am not the type of person who believes in love at first sight, but I had a good feeling from the beginning, and it proved well.

As with most startup businesses, a lot of hard work, determination and compromises are usually made to make it a success. What were the biggest compromises, or if you prefer to call them sacrifices, that you have made to get where you are today?

There was a lot, and I think it's important to talk about it. Having your own business takes a lot of time and energy. So even though I don't like to admit it, sometimes I make social sacrifices. In my old job, I was known amongst my friends and family for not being very flexible with my time.

As well as time, I also had to give up having a high stable income and a very linear and promising career path. I wouldn't change it, though and would still prefer what I'm doing now. I would certainly do it again, but it's not for everyone. I think it takes a lot of commitment and dedication, and it should be a conscious decision whether you are the type of person willing to give all these things up. Sometimes, particularly in the US, having your own business can be over-glorified.

As you mentioned, starting your own business is a huge commitment and not for everyone, but for those thinking, 'I can do that!' how would you define a suitable person for this job?

I don't think you can define certain traits that determine a person's suitability. If you look at successful founders and people who make a difference in the world, they are just so different in personality, knowledge and wealth.

Is there a specific thing everyone needs to have at least to succeed in this business?

I think that a valuable asset is the ability to think critically and to think independently. If you look at our society and economy, we are so prone to hypes and half-truths, and sometimes mainstream opinions. Try to look a little deeper, and don't necessarily hold true at first glance. So, I think if you're a person that can reflect upon what opinions you want to adopt and which opinions you want to deviate from, that's an important trait.

So, for example, I think we have to assess much deeper and more systematically about what is needed to prevent climate warming. I believe there's much more than just emissions to that.

Having already touched on some greater issues, like you mentioned digging deeper into the prevention of climate warming that you hope to be addressed, how would you envision the future, a new standard or the new normal?

I have two visions in my mind that I hope to come true in the future, concerning animal welfare, food and the environment. First, I think we associate meat with animal cruelty today. I hope that in the future, meat alternatives, both plant-based and from the lab, are so advanced that meat is something we cherish. I hope that one day I am able to sit in a restaurant and to order the meat of a certain animal, knowing that it’s still alive and happy somewhere, without the animal being sent to slaughter.

Second, in the bigger picture, I hope we get closer to a Net Zero view of emissions, our resources, and the world in general. The thinking should be: The world gives us a certain amount of resources every year, and we can't use any more than that. We don't even have the means to think like this right now; none of us really knows what things cost in terms of resources? So, I hope this will become more transparent in the future.

After going through this journey, is there anything you wish to be remembered for by your family and friends when you are no longer here?

I don't believe it's important for me to be remembered a certain way or even at all. I do hope, though, that I made a difference. Of course, I hope I have made a difference with my company and, hopefully, to the people I worked with. I try to be logical and fact-based in my work, but it's also really important for me to be compassionate and show empathy, and I hope that this at least makes a difference, even if it's not specifically associated with me in the future.

What words of wisdom would you give to any budding entrepreneurs starting out?

Again, I would say be critical and think independently; I think that's the number one skill. Also, make something different to drive your innovation.

Finally, if there was one lasting message that you could share with the whole world, what would that one be?

I like to say that if you do well, you have to do good. I think it's really important to pay it forward if you're in the position to do so, and there are so many ways to do this. For example, when a person you don't know reaches out to you on LinkedIn and asks you for advice; give them some of your time and try to give back. I think that would help to make the world a better place.

Thank you, Insa, for your time today. It has been fascinating to understand how your business became a reality, from the concept and meaning behind Mooji Meats through to the launch at the beginning of this year during one of the more difficult times in recent history.


If you would like to find out more about Insa and Mooji Meats, you can find them at https://www.moojimeats.com/

To stay up to date with our latest content and interviews with amazing people like Insa, subscribe to the Brighter Future newsletter.

Facebook sharing IconTwitter sharing IconPinterest sharing IconWhatsApp sharing IconLinkedin sharing Icon

Join our Newsletter.

Want valuable insights from some of the world’s most successful planet-driven founders? Join our Origin Story newsletter. Each one of our Origin Story interviews dives deep into the mind of a planet-driven founder, reveals insights about their company’s DNA, and investigates how they’ve built a successful business.


Let’s Tell Your Story.

Book call

Your Vision, Our Mission.

Book call

Investor Spotlight Series w/ Nick Lyth, Green Angel Ventures

Origin Story Interview W/ Manuel Seiffe, MPower

Origin Story Interview W/ Aarav Chavda, INVERSA Leathers

Origin Story Interview W/ Florian Tiller, Ucaneo

Origin Story Interview W/ Richard Hardiman, RanMarine

Origin Story Interview W/ Johnny Drain, Win-Win

A Lesson from Patagonia on Developing Brand Values

Origin Story Interview W/ David Henstrom, Unibio

Origin Story Interview W/ Steffen Gerlach, Eeden

Origin Story Interview W/ Kevin Webb, Superorganism

An Origin Story - Why You Need It And How To Craft It

Origin Story Interview W/ Dustin Bowers, PLAEX

Origin Story Interview W/ John Vermilye, Fair Carbon

Origin Story Interview W/ Thibaut Monfort-Micheo, FlexSea

Origin Story Interview W/ Andrew Behar, As You Sow

Origin Story Interview W/ Ruben Smit, Sunrise

Origin Story Series W/ Deepak Rajmohan, GreenPod Labs

Origin Story Interview W/ Christopher McClure, Loki Foods

Narratives of Change: Crafting Identity through Founder and Organisational Storytelling

Origin Story Interview W/ Emmanuel Briquet, Searen

How To Use An Origin and Vision Story to Attract Investors

The Power of Storytelling: How Climate Activists Drive Meaningful Change

Transforming IPCC Narratives for Global Climate Awareness

Origin Story Interview W/ Hannes Junginger, Carbonfuture

Origin Story Interview W/ David Monnier, Fonto de Vivo

Origin Story Interview W/ Tim Steppich, ClimateU

Origin Story Interview W/ Mark Driscoll, Tasting the Future

Origin Story Interview W/ Kalle Nilvér, GoClimate

Origin Story Interview W/ Marina Schmidt, Red to Green

Origin Story Interview W/ Christoph Pitter, ProteinDistillery

Origin Story Interview W/ Antonella De Lazzari, Naturannova

Origin Story Interview W/ Dijana Galijasevic, Impact Hero

Origin Story Interview W/ Anastasia Kiku, Reusables

Origin Story Interview W/ Nathan Bonnisseau, Plan A

Origin Story Interview W/ Ryan Kushner, Third Derivative

Origin Story Interview W/ Philipp Arbter, Colipi

Origin Story Interview W/ Thibault Sorret, ERS

Origin Story Interview W/ Csaba Hetényi, Plantcraft

Origin Story Interview W/ Rhea Singhal, Ecoware

Origin Story Interview W/ Joel Tasche, CleanHub

Origin Story Interview W/ Jennifer Cote, Opalia

Origin Story Interview W/ Allen Himes, Indigo Energy

Origin Story Interview W/ Emily Taylor, SAGES

Origin Story Interview W/ Aaron Schaller, MeliBio

Origin Story Interview W/ Clover Hogan, Force of Nature

Origin Story Interview W/ Bernard de Wit, Regreener

Origin Story Interview W/ Wolfgang Baum, Fairventures Worldwide gGmbH

Origin Story Interview W/ Anne Therese Gennari, The Climate Optimist

Origin Story Interview W/ Frederique De Clercq, Fred's Mayo

Origin Story Interview W/ Dimitry Gershenson, Enduring Planet

Origin Story Interview W/ David Cutler, Fortuna Cools

Origin Story Interview w/ Auriane Borremans, The Butcher's Daughter & Eatention

Origin Story Interview w/ Will Wiseman, Climatize

Origin Story Interview w/ Todd Khozein, SecondMuse

Origin Story Interview w/ Ryan Hagen, Crowdsourcing Sustainability

Origin Story Interview w/ Noor, Project CECE

Origin Story Interview w/ Shobhita Soor, Legendary Foods

Origin Story Interview W/ Yvonne Jamal, JARO Institute for Sustainability and Digitalization

Origin Story Interview w/ Paul Shapiro, The Better Meat Co.

Origin Story Interview W/ Topher White, Rainforest Connection & Squibbon

Origin Story Interview W/ Felipe Krelling, NewBio

Origin Story Interview W/ Samuel Wines, Co-Labs Australia

Origin Story Interview W/ Mirjam Walser, The Vegan Business School

Origin Story Interview W/ Walid Al Saqqaf, Rebalance Earth

Origin Story Interview W/ Ana Rosa de Lima, Meli Bees

Origin Story Interview W/ Maya Ashkenazi, Maolac

Origin Story Interview W/ Vanessa Westphal, Choosy

Origin Story Interview W/ Leah Bessa, De Novo Dairy

Origin Story Interview W/ Jasmin Shaikh, Axia Foods

Origin Story Interview W/ Roee Nir, Forsea

Origin Story Interview W/ Simone Köchli, Loopi

Origin Story Interview W/ Harald Neidhardt, Futur/io

Origin Story Interview W/ Karsten Hirsch, Plastic Fischer

Origin Story Interview W/ Antoinette Vermilye, Gallifrey Foundation

Origin Story Interview W/ Roman Laus, Mewery

Origin Story Interview W/ Louisa Burman, Sustainability & B Corp Consultant

Origin Story Interview W/ Alfredo Seidemann, Viatu

Origin Story Interview W/ Insa Mohr, Mooji Meats

Origin Story Interview W/ Björn Öste, Oatly & Good Idea Drinks

Origin Story Interview W/ Brett Thompson, Newform Foods (Formerly Mzansi Meat Co.)

Origin Story Interview W/ Liza Altena, repath

Origin Story Interview W/ Troy Carter, Earthshot Labs

Origin Story Interview W/ Alex Felipelli, Veggly

Origin Story Interview W/ Tyler Mayoras, Cool Beans

Origin Story Interview W/ Sandra Einvall, Fikat

Origin Story Interview W/ Eloy Padilla, The Fair Cottage

Origin Story Interview W/ David Garrison, Climate & Capital Connect

Origin Story Interview W/ Gaurav Vora, Renergii

Origin Story Interview W/ Sebastian Alexander Guldstoev, Continued Fasion

Origin Story Interview W/ Nuno Brito Jorge, GoParity

Origin Story Interview W/ Martin Baart, ecoligo

Origin Story Interview W/ Luca Michas, yamo

Origin Story Interview W/ Patricia Plesner, EcoHotels.com

Origin Story Interview W/ Dágon Ribeiro, Biotecland

Origin Story Interview W/ Chris Langwallner, WhatIF Foods

Origin Story Interview W/ Matteo Aghemo, Must Had

Origin Story Interview W/ Lili Dreyer, VAER

Origin Story Interview W/ Josh Brito, MakeGrowLab

Origin Story Interview W/ Jeff Kirschner, Litterati

Origin Story Interview W/ Jan G. Skjoldhammer, NoviOcean