Elliot Roth, Replacing Petroleum Based Food Additives with Algae – Episode 86

Elliot Roth is a serial Entrepreneur and the Founder of Spira, Inc., a Los Angeles, CA based plant based, algae derived food ingredient manufacturer that hopes to modify the way that the world eats, reduce the environmental impact of traditional food production and eliminate hunger. Elliot’s goal is to replace the harmful animal and petroleum compounds found in the food we eat, the products we use and the cloths we wear. His company can take a plant based product called Spirulina, which has been grown and consumed for many thousands of years, and modify its taste, smell and color profile using DNA editing technology like CRISPR [pronounced “Crisper”] to produce natural, fast growing and sustainable products. For example, the company’s “Electric Sky” natural blue dye offers a unique alternative to synthetic blue dye #1, which is made from petroleum.

Growing up in a modest family, Elliot became interested in being in labs at a young age. He was always asking why and pushing the envelope on new ideas and experiments. Before founding Spira, he founded six start-ups that failed along with two successful non-profits. He first started experimenting with Spirulina to fuel his curiosity and, literally, to eat cheaply when times were tough. After experimenting with algae production in old aquariums he borrowed from friends, Elliot saw its potential to massively disrupt the food industry and began the search for Spirulina farming partners around the world, from whom he could import product for his production process.

Mike and Elliot cover a ton of great stuff in this episode, including how he became interested in genetics, his experience with producing mushroom based bricks for construction, how his philosophy revolves around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, his dream to turn food into a utility and how he balances the pragmatic part of his business with what some might describe as the science fiction part of his dream. Elliot is one of the best “out of the box” thinking examples you’ll ever have the pleasure to listen to. Get prepared to listen to the future!

And now here’s Elliot Roth.

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