How I met my co-founder and launched a plant-based meal delivery company

The following is a transcript of an interview between the co-founders of Faba and Antler. It has been slightly edited for clarity and length.

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An image of Faba co-founders Alex & Sean standing outside in front of a blossoming tree
Faba co-founders Alex & Sean.

Faba is a homegrown brand, that turns our favourite comfort food into nutrition-loaded flavour-bombs, by using 100% plant-based recipes. Alex & Sean met at Antler, where they built Faba from scratch, just like their tantalising meals which are delivered islandwide.  

The following is a transcript of an interview between the co-founders of Faba and Antler. It has been slightly edited for clarity and length.

How did you join Antler?  

Alex: I had previously interned at a VC fund and had attended the very first demo in Singapore. I also had a close friend go through SG8

Sean: A friend of mine was in SG6 and I spent some time chatting with her through her experience and thought it would be a fun thing to do one day.

What inspired you to start Faba?

Sean: We were chatting towards the start of our time at Antler, and we both reflected on how we had tried plant-based dieting in the last year. We shared the same experience of struggling to find a way to adapt to a vegan diet without cutting corners, or feeling like we didn’t have dietary blind spots.

A close up image of one of the plant-based menu options at Faba

What is the problem you’re solving that no other plant-based foods have managed?

Sean: 1) Flavour. 2) Daily uptake.

The alternative-meat crowd has done a great job introducing consumers to sustainable foods but studies have shown that plant-based meats contain too much sodium and are they also highly processed.

What we endeavour to offer at Faba are healthy balanced meals that are sustainable for the environment and tasty at the same time, which is key to adopting plant-based alternatives, such as Faba meals, into one’s daily diet.

What is your biggest learning ever since starting Faba?

Alex: I would say the biggest learning for me has been to project manage my time effectively. As a founder, it’s very easy to find a million and one things to do, so understanding what is the most impactful thing you can do in a day is very important. You can spend a lot of time working on busy work but one meeting can completely open up your business. Identifying what is key is very important.

Sean: Prioritising the fundamentals. There’s so much to do at an early-stage startup and though Alex and I both have to juggle wearing multiple hats, as time goes on you realise some aspects of the business require more attention than others, so how you prioritise your time is important.

How did joining Antler help you to build your company?

Alex: Coaches who can see through your BS has been very helpful. Having someone on the outside who can keep you on the straight and narrow is very useful.

Sean: As a first-time founder, the coaching at Antler has been a great asset for us as we come to terms with running the gauntlet of being a fast-growing, modern-day startup

Do you think a plant-based diet is for everybody?

Alex: Right now I would say that a plant based diet isn’t for everyone. Should everyone move towards a plant based diet or consume more plant based foods? Absolutely yes but right now there aren’t enough convenient options for everyone. Making a switch to a plant-based diet is a habitual change which for many people is very hard when you are a busy person. We believe that more choices and awareness of plant-based alternatives over time will help change this.

Sean: People really care about what they put in their bodies and we aren’t here to tell people, with our fingers wagging, what decisions they should be making. What we want to do is to help people who are interested in eating in a more sustainable way, to find a tasty, fun way to do it.

An image showing a selection of 3 plant-based menu offerings at Faba

Why have you chosen to sell Faba foods as frozen instead of freshly cooked on-demand?

Sean: I’ve doom scrolled on Grab at 9pm, waiting for hours, watching all of the places I want to eat are closed, or a driver can’t be found to deliver my meal. I’ve paid $8+ delivery fees and suffered small basket sizes. Often, the hungrier I am, the worse the decisions I make. Alex and I know, as people from the food industry, that frozen can often be fresher than the food you order from a store, and that the quality of taste can also be really high, and you can’t beat the convenience of having a meal, in the freezer at home, ready when you want it. It’s an underutilized space.

What do you think is your unfair advantage as a founder?

Alex: Sean and I have both spent most of our professional careers working in and around the food industry so when we wanted to get from 0–1 we had the knowledge and connections to get us there very quickly. We had a fully packaged and produced product within our first three months. Having the knowledge of what to do and when, really helped us when speaking with suppliers and manufacturers.

Sean: I echo what Alex has said about our shared know-how in the food industry. I would also add, that with that experience, we were able to do a lot to propel this business forward from day 1. Be it getting in the kitchen ourselves, designing nutrition information, or working with manufacturers to make the food to the standards we require to make meals that excite people. We also hustle like hell.

What makes Antler a good VC match for your company?

Sean: Antler backs founders and interesting ideas. I like to think we tick these boxes.

Alex: Agreed with Sean on that, being founder first was very helpful for us on speed of execution. Antler believes in us and gives us the support to just let us go.

What are some key traits you look for in a co-founder?

Alex: Empathy towards others and high degree of trust

Sean: Ability to disagree, honest, and well-humoured.

How did you know Alex / Sean is the right co-founder for you?

Alex: I am a coffee addict and Sean is a coffee connoisseur so I know I can always get the good stuff from him.

Sean: We enjoy working together, and it’s easy even when we make the hard decisions.

What do you appreciate the most about each other?

Alex: Sean is a creative at heart and always has an idea up his sleeve.

Sean: Alex has put a lot of himself into the product, and has created something we are super proud of.

What are some of your highs and lows as an entrepreneur?

Alex: High point - Creating a real physical product in hand that you are proud of. Low point: Realising that the product can always be better.

Sean: High point - Taking a product we were making at home, giving it to a central kitchen, receiving a super prototype, and realizing how achievable all of this was. Low point: I’ll tell you when we have a proper low point, as we are still working on product and haven’t had any light-of-day results to analyze with.

What pitch advice would you give to other founders?

Alex: At an early stage there are fundamentally two things that investors will invest in: a large and growing market, and the team. A revenue projection and business model are fundamentally speculative and secondary to the market and the team.

Sean: Agree with Alex, and I’ll add that validation, big or small, shows a teams intent, as well as the market’s potential.

What advice would you give to first-time founders?

Alex: Be prepared to hustle and do things that you are uncomfortable/highly unqualified to be doing. But don’t worry that’s a feature, not a bug and actually very rewarding.

Sean: Be humble. Know what you know, and know what you don’t know. A sure way to look like an idiot is to say something speculative to an investor who knows the industry inside and out.

Closeup image of a person holding a plant-based menu offering from Faba

About Faba: Faba wants to create a world where plant-based food is an exciting, sought after meal choice, every day.

We believe that the desire to eat a plant based diet is not matched with enough convenient solutions. So while there’s a growing amount of people who want to eat plant based, many of us fall through the cracks, not knowing where to begin.

That’s why we have worked with chefs to design plant based meals, that are tasty, healthy, affordable, convenient, and green.

Are you a founder or looking to become a founder? Do you need access to talented individuals to form a co-founding team, and a VC to invest in your early-stage startup? Antler enables exceptional people to create exceptional companies. We are currently taking applications globally. If you want to build your company with Antler apply now!

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