Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland, Christoph Jenny’s journey from the mountainous terrains of his childhood to the forefront of sustainable innovation with Planted, Europe’s fastest growing FoodTech startup in the alternative protein space, is a testament to vision, resilience, and a profound connection to nature.
As Planted celebrates its four-year anniversary, we delve deeper into Christoph’s compelling narrative, exploring the intricacies of his upbringing, his corporate odyssey, and the transformative path he’s paved with Planted.
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Growing Up on a Playground And the Path Forward
Christoph’s childhood in the Swiss mountains was more than just picturesque; it was an immersive experience. Recounting tales of taking cows to school during winters, Christoph reflects on a youth that essentially unfolded on a grand playground surrounded by the wonders of nature.
The profound connection to his roots laid the foundation for what would become a lifelong commitment to sustainability. As Christoph navigated the crossroads of his early career, he found himself drawn to the field of economics.
The allure of building models to explain reality captivated him, setting the stage for a career marked by a relentless pursuit of understanding and predicting outcomes. Despite not being initially captivated by marketing concepts, Christoph discovered a profound interest in economics that would later shape his professional journey.
Corporate Odyssey and the Power of Culture
The corporate world beckoned Christoph, leading him through influential positions at Credit Suisse in asset management and Consumer Investment Partners. What began as an inclination toward economic analysis evolved into a deeper realization – the essence of success lies not just in numbers but in the culture and team one builds.
Through experiences at these corporate giants, Christoph unearthed the significance of leadership, teamwork, and cultural alignment.
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Balancing Conviction and Adaptability
The seeds of entrepreneurship were sown early in Christoph’s life when, at the age of sixteen, he founded his first webshop. The transition from the corporate realm to entrepreneurship taught him a crucial lesson – success is a marathon, not a sprint.
Consistency and a focus on the long term became guiding principles as Christoph took on the challenges of building and scaling a business. As he recalls, his professional journey is punctuated by a delicate dance between unwavering conviction and adaptive flexibility.
Through management interviews, he discovered that while understanding numbers is crucial, the true strength lies in the ability to be a good operator—an inspiring leader who can rally a team toward a shared vision. This revelation laid the groundwork for his future endeavors.
Christoph looks back to the time when his job was all about simple investment work, including sourcing deals and finding deals. That is, until the time when he got behind the scenes of restaurant and beverage brands while working at Jacobs Holding to learn about the intricacies of their day-to-day operations.
Christoph spent a lot of time in the restaurants, understanding how line chefs work, and interacting with the key operators to understand the business from the ground up.
Navigating the Challenges in Alternative Proteins
The inception of Planted stemmed from 4 colleagues, including Christoph, who explored alternative proteins with only natural ingredients as their USP after learning of the first alt meat brands in the USA. However, this venture wasn’t without its challenges. The team’s commitment to creating a product that surpassed traditional meat led to a meticulous process of refining taste.
He also considered the environmental impact, ensuring consumer health, and achieving affordability. Thus, Planted aims to redefine the narrative around alternative proteins. Christoph’s journey from skepticism to success required determination and a belief in the potential of sustainable alternatives.
Planted’s innovative approach involves transforming proteins through biotechnology and fermentation while only using clean ingredients (no additives), prioritizing a product-first philosophy. Christoph draws parallels with success stories like Apple and Tesla, emphasizing the critical importance of understanding consumer benefits.
Today, Planted meats are already available in over 6100 restaurants and more than 8700 retail outlets across Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, UK and BeNeLux as well as over its own D2C Europewide webshop.
Funding the Vision
Raising $115 million in capital was a strategic process for Planted. Christoph underscores the importance of investors who align with the long-term vision, acknowledging the challenges of fundraising for a capital-intensive business.
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The careful selection of investors and maintaining transparency have been key factors in Planted’s success. Christoph’s unique perspective, having transitioned from an investment manager to an operator, has provided valuable insights.
The importance of maintaining transparency, fostering competition during fundraising, and consistently preparing a well-maintained data room are lessons that emerged from experiences on both sides of the table.
The vision for Planted goes beyond a successful business; it envisions a world where alternative proteins have become mainstream. Christoph dreams of waking up to a reality where Planted’s products reach a significant portion of the consumer base, making sustainable alternatives an integral part of everyday diets.
Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead
Reflecting on his journey, Christoph imparts wisdom to his past self, encouraging the embrace of the unknown. Documenting the vision and taking time for key hires emerge as crucial lessons, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning and personnel decisions in the entrepreneurial landscape.
As Planted celebrates its four-year anniversary, Christoph Jenny’s visionary leadership continues to steer the company toward a future where sustainability, taste, and innovation converge. In the vibrant environment of Planted’s transparent production facility, Christoph remains at the helm, orchestrating a symphony of tradition and innovation, crafting a sustainable and flavorful future for all.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to know more, including:
- The journey from Christophs upbringing to founding Planted reflects a profound connection to nature, shaping a commitment to sustainable alternatives not only good for the environment but also consumer health.
- Moving from an early fascination with economics, Christoph learned that success transcends numbers, emphasizing the pivotal role of culture and leadership.
- Advocacy for a delicate balance between unwavering conviction and adaptability is crucial for navigating the unpredictable landscape of entrepreneurship.
- Planted’s inception involves proprietary technology such as biotechnology and fermentation, focusing on taste, health, environment, and affordability for a truly sustainable alternative ultimately “better than meat from animals”.
- Raising $115 million in capital, Christoph underscores the importance of aligning with investors who share the long-term vision and maintaining transparency during fundraising.
- Transitioning from an investment manager to an operator, the emphasis is on the value of transparency, competition in fundraising, and consistently maintaining a well-prepared data room.
- Planted envisions a world where alternative proteins have gone mainstream, with Christoph dreaming of waking up to a reality where their products reach a substantial portion of the consumer base.