Origin Story Interview W/ Luca Michas, yamo

Origin Story Interview W/ Luca Michas, yamo

Brighter Future

 / 

May 18, 2022

#BrighterFuture #entrepreneurship #Sustainability #ClimateChangeSolution #originstoryseries #seekthechange #HealthyEating #HealthyKids #PlantBased #ChildNutrition #CleanEating #healthysnacks #carefortheenvironment

Brighter Future

Today, we are joined by Luca Michas, the CMO and co-founder of yamo, a mission-driven business pioneering the next generation of baby and kids’ food. Launched in 2017, yamo creates fresh, healthy, nutritious food and snack options for children of all ages.

Hi Luca! Thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview. Let’s kick it off with a brief introduction to who you are. Where do you come from?

I was born and raised across two cultures in Greece and Switzerland, which instilled a deep curiosity in me about the unknown and planted the seed of my adventurous soul. I truly love exploring new things, and I’m always learning and growing as a person. I guess these aspects of my personality are a big part of why I never hesitated to start a business once the opportunity presented itself.

Yamo looks like a really fun and interesting business! How did the idea come about?

A couple of years ago, myself and my co-founder, Tobias, did a 30-day vegan challenge as a kind of self-experiment. During this time, we started to closely examine the ingredients in some of the processed vegan products on the market. Many of them had quite a lot of additives, sugars and chemicals. Like many others, I had naively assumed that “vegan” automatically meant “healthy”, which is often not the case for prepackaged foods, vegan or not. We turned to what we thought was the most natural and healthy food category available in the supermarket: baby food. We were shocked by the high sugar content, the lack of freshness due to the extremely long shelf life, and the additives in the existing ranges of baby food. So, we decided to change this. Having identified a gap in the market, we set out to create a healthier future for the next generation through clean, sustainable, convenient baby food and snacks. In 2017, yamo was born!

That’s such an inspiring startup story! We know that no matter how delicious the products, getting any idea off the ground takes perseverance and lots of hard work. What is it about yamo that drives you to keep going day after day?

The main thing that drives us to keep going is knowing that what we are doing is creating a better future for a lot of parents and children, as well as the planet! I feel motivated from the moment I wake up in the morning because I know I have a strong purpose. I know that I’m contributing to the betterment of our world and that my work will leave it a better place. At yamo, we create fresh, nutritious, plant-based food for babies and small children, which helps give them a great start in life and really makes a difference!

Purpose - or a strong why - seems to be a common denominator among successful entrepreneurs. Did you reach a specific point in your old life where you decided to take a risk and pursue your own dream?

After years of working in a corporate role, I finally reached a point where I could do no more. I had simply had enough. I wanted to have a bigger impact on the world, but I felt that my path was already set in stone. At times, it felt like the only way forward was to continue to climb the corporate ladder. But I knew that we had a great idea with yamo and a great vision of the future, so I decided to take a chance, change my path, and start the learning process from scratch.


That’s brave! I’m sure some of your skills from your previous career helped with building yamo. What aspects of your previous life experience contributed to the success you’ve seen today?

Honestly, we were neither experienced nor wise when we decided to start yamo. However, we were young, bold and really had nothing to lose. A lot of our confidence also came from listening to interviews and podcasts with other startup entrepreneurs. We took a lot from their stories and tried to learn from their advice and mistakes. We also learned that many successful founders have no real industry experience in the field they are tapping into. They often stumble across a market gap and have the advantage of looking at that opportunity with fresh, unbiased eyes. That was certainly the case for us and yamo.

That’s very true! Sometimes an outsider can see things much more clearly than an industry veteran. So much of the startup journey is uncertain, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable you are. Nothing ever goes completely to plan. Can you think of an instance where you took a different direction than planned?

I think that if you are truly adaptable and open to new things, changing directions happens a lot. It’s an essential part of the entrepreneurial process! The question is how you deal with it and what you learn from it. After university, for example, I accepted an offer from an advertising agency that was one of THE places to work in Zurich. It was a big deal. I took the opportunity with both hands but wound up leaving after only three weeks. I just didn’t feel it was the direction I wanted to take at the beginning of my career. I couldn’t even explain why. I just felt it. And it was the best decision I ever made because shortly after that, I found another role in another company - and that’s where I met my great co-founder, Tobias!

Gut feeling (or intuition) is an underestimated part of decision-making. We’re glad you listened to your gut, and it worked out! As you said, it’s all about how you deal with things and what you learn from them. What are some failures or hurdles you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur, and what did they teach you?

When we were starting yamo, I thought I needed to do everything myself. It took me too long to accept help, which meant I almost burned myself out before the company even took off. I learned from it, though. I started to listen to myself, and I committed to certain routines and habits. For example, in the early days of the startup, things were hectic. I lost track of myself a bit. Now, things like regularly playing sports, freeing up time for family, friends and my girlfriend, taking time to relax, etc. have helped me get myself back on track. Unfortunately, I had to push myself close to burnout to learn exactly where my limits are.

That’s a very common experience among entrepreneurs in the startup phase. It becomes all-consuming. Another common but more positive experience is the “aha!” moment - a moment when things seem to click into place and finally make sense. Have you ever experienced an “aha!” moment, and if so, could you tell us about it?

Yes! I have experienced a variation of the “aha!” moment. It happened when I switched from being a manager with a secure job and a steady income to being an entrepreneur without any salary but tons of uncertainties and sacrifices. My “aha!” moment was when I realised just how much blood, sweat and tears almost every entrepreneur has to put in, and how much they have to sacrifice every day. We tend to focus on the incredible startup success stories. We read and talk about the Teslas and Airbnbs of this world. But we forget that only about 5% of all startups survive. That means out of 100 startup companies, 95 will run out of money and quickly close their doors, shutting down their hopes, visions, sacrifices and even losing their personal financial investments. What normal person would take a 5% chance of success when the alternative is losing everything you’ve built and invested? But still, millions of businesses are started every year around the world. The people who start them believe in themselves and are willing to sacrifice anything for their dream. I now have so much respect for anyone who leaves their comfort zone and goes “all in”. That was my “aha!” moment.

So true! It’s not for the fainthearted. You mentioned the sacrifices that entrepreneurs have to make on a daily basis. What kinds of sacrifices did you have to make to get to where you are now?

Most of the sacrifices I made were related to my mental and physical health, my friendships and relationships, and love. Of course, there is also the constant financial worries looming overhead, which takes its toll. At one stage, I could no longer pay my rent, so I had to move back in with my father for a while. There are a lot of sacrifices to be made when you’re starting or running a business, but you make them because you believe that you’re building a better future - for yourself, for those you love, and, in the case of yamo, for future generations and the wider world.

Speaking of future generations, the world is now experiencing a period of great change and uncertainty. Companies like yamo are doing their part to turn the tide and make a difference. We’d love to know how you personally envision the future?

I’m not going to lie, I’m worried about where we are going from an ecological point of view. I really hope that we, as humans, can get our shit together because it’s almost too late. It seems like we don’t learn from the conflicts and wars of the past. At the same time, I believe in the power of creativity and innovation, as well as the benefits that future technology can provide if applied in the right way. Overall, I’m cautious but I’m also very optimistic. Right now, I’m focusing on what I can do personally and through yamo.

That’s a very positive and manageable approach. Let’s flash forward past your lifetime. When you are no longer here on Earth, how would you like people to remember you and your journey?

I am not someone who feels a burning need to build a legacy. If I can positively influence a few people with my learnings from building a startup and help parents raise their kids on healthier and more sustainable food, then I have already added more value to our world through yamo than I ever thought I would. If people get one thing from my story, I hope it’s the idea of listening to your gut and doing the things that make you happy. You’ve only got one life, so live it!

This has been an amazing conversation, Luca. We’ve really enjoyed speaking to you today. Thank you so much for sharing your story and insights with us. To close it out, we’ve got one last question  for you.  If there was one last message you could share with the world, what would it be?

Awesome! Let’s end the interview with a smile! :-) I recently read this and loved it: “If no one comes from the future to stop you from doing it, then how bad of a decision can it really be?”

--------------

What a great way to end this inspiring interview! Thanks again to our wonderful guest Luca from yamo. If you would like to find out more about Luca and his work at yamo—or maybe even try out some of yamo’s delicious products with your kids—you can find him at: www.yamo.bio.

To stay up to date with all of our interviews and latest content with inspiring entrepreneurs like Luca, subscribe to the Brighter Future newsletter here.

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.

BY ENTERING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, YOU AGREE TO BE ADDED YOU TO OUR MAILING LIST.

Let’s Tell Your Story.

Book call

Your Vision, Our Mission.

Book call

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

Origin Story Interview W/ Chris Do, The Futur