Timo Recker: Redefining the Future of Meat
14 June 2022
From taking over his family business to building award-winning plant-based products, Timo Recker tells us how he hatched the plan for TiNDLE, a revolutionary chicken made from plants. Tune in to learn how a man born into a German Schnitzel family led the world’s tastiest plant-based chicken to success.
This episode is hosted by Nicole Astra.
Listen to more of the Ridiculously Good podcast here.
Read the full transcript of the episode below:
Nicole Astra: It feels funny to welcome you to the show because I feel like this is your show, but welcome to the podcast, Timo.
Timo Recker: Thank you very much, Nicole. I’m thrilled to be here.
Nicole: So excited to be talking to you. I got to meet you last week finally and I want to dig in. I feel like you are one of these TiNDLE characters that I don’t know as much about, and if I feel that way then the rest of the world might feel that way. So take us all the way back. I want to start in Germany and find out what it was like growing up for you.
Timo: When the very, very first true TiNDLE moment started. TiNDLE wasn’t born then obviously. My journey started in Germany, family business environment; a food family. My father was running a schnitzel factory – pork schnitzel – deep-fried and breaded. I couldn’t really identify with it and I think the world didn’t really need it neither, so I couldn’t imagine that this is the future. Obviously I had to act on it and started LikeMeat back in 2012, which was basically my first plant-based meat venture.
Nicole: Okay, you’re jumping all the way ahead. I did read that it was vegan schnitzel that got
you thinking about this. I can only imagine in Germany – big meat eaters – there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for vegan and vegetarian food. Was that the case growing up?
Timo: It was very niche back then. Actually, there was one moment which was like very much the first moment. In 2010, I was studying in London and my father was visiting me and there was one restaurant called Meat and Two Veg, I still remember the name on Marylebone High Street, and they had a vegetarian schnitzel. Since we produced a lot of schnitzel my father and me, we tried it. We looked at this vegetarian schnitzel – we only know that with veal, with chicken, with pork, and this was vegetarian, so let’s try it. It was tasty! And I never forgot that. Back then when I had to join the family business in a turn-around phase, I obviously looked at the different proteins are out there and if we still enjoy the texture of meat. But like, what alternatives are out there? I wasn’t a vegetarian back then, I was a meat lover. At the same time, I was a health-conscious, sports guy, aware, to some degree educated, so I know that there are better options and choices to make. But all the vegetarian products out there, I didn’t really enjoy it. It was like all dough, crumbly – there was no real taste and it’s like, “Why would I eat that? If I can’t have the real thing, why would I choose that?” So, I think it wasn’t a big joy to eat this kind of product, and they were not presented in a nice way. It was really niche. It was like meant-to-be that someone is doing something with the sector, you know? But there was obviously no hype around and it was very, very early days.
Nicole: So did you in fact work in the family business? Take me through that, when we say meat production – how far back in your family did that tradition go?
Timo: Actually not too far. My grandfather started in the fifties, with an ice cream wholesaler. He was a very entrepreneurial man and had many different ideas and even started a french fry production line. And then my father joined to help my grandfather. And then they were like, “OK, what kind of products does the German market need?” and they came up with gyros, which is a Greek thing. So they were one of the first ones producing gyros on the stick. They were buying certain cuts of meat and putting them together, spicing, then delivering that concept. Then the Turks came with the doner kebab, so it’s kind of like someone else took over the market. And then my grandfather said, “OK Herman” – they are both called Herman – “do schnitzel.” So my father started his schnitzel factory. So this is how it was born and it was in the second generation we started that factory. It was buying pork loins; slicing them, liquid batter, dry batter, deep fat frying, and then you freeze the product, and then you distributed to retail markets.
Nicole: And when you started thinking about alternative proteins, what was the family’s reaction to that? I mean, I suppose with an entrepreneurial spirit they understood, but was there friction when you started to think outside of those traditions?
Timo: I think that my parents didn’t really belong in this little village. They were very much open-minded. My father studied ethnology and wanted actually at some point to become a saxophone player. They were very cool people, and they happened to run this business. And it wasn’t that they were biggest fans of meat, that they would judge anyone who would do something different. So I think in our household it was really kind of, everything was possible, so I really felt very supported. My father even helped to set up the business – he was the first one who financed it, still working in the family business so I could basically dedicate hundred percent of my time towards plant-based. They were actually pretty supportive, absolutely. Obviously not everyone in that company thought so. There were some butchers around, and they were like, “Why is this needed?” So back then a lot of people didn’t understand why the world needs that. But that’s in every good business in the beginning, that’s how it is, right? People tell you, “That doesn’t make sense, don’t do this, why are you doing this,” you know? That’s actually how the journey starts.
Nicole: Why did you think it would be successful?
Timo: For me, I had this one moment when I saw there was a certain technology – high moisture extrusion. This technology enables us to produce a texture, and the first time I discovered this technology which was lab scale, which was not at all industrial scale, but I saw this texture and was like, wow, I see all the vegetarian products out there and now we finally could produce the texture, and like it was a long fiber. When we produce pork schnitzel, there’s meat, and there’s cheap meat products. The cheap meat products is, you grind the meat from all different parts and form it again together. That’s a cheap product. A quality meat product is, you have the whole muscle and then you cut and then you have a whole muscle texture piece, and that’s the high quality. With high moisture extrusion, I could really see the fiber and I could really see the opportunity and possibility to manufacture product that is so authentic and so real, and gives all the joy and the texture – the experience of having meat. So, for me it started with a product – it started with a technology and then with a product. Then for a very long time it all circled around the product, so I cooked it and I spiced it and it really started in my mom’s kitchen basically.
Nicole: And that’s when LikeMeat was born.
Timo: This is when LikeMeat was born, yes. Then we developed our chicken chunks and gyro strips and donut chunks and nuggets and schnitzel and burger and sausages…
Nicole: And you were such a young man at this point, and really started to experience a lot of distribution and a lot of success. Take me through that story.
Timo: Well I was in the beginning of my twenties and definitely in my prime age. I had a lot of energy and not many fears and doubts, and as well there was one important moment when I met John Seegers – he is our CTO – he’s in Singapore here with us. He as well, fell in love with high moisture extrusion. So we both kind of like had this crush on this technology and so this was an important moment, because obviously you need a great team. With John together it was always like, “John what do you think?” and “Yeah, of course we can make it happen, we can make it possible.” So John as well is someone who is like ‘everything is possible’. This was a great, great partnership and we said OK, let’s build factories. Let’s order the machinery, let’s build the factories. My father gave one million euros loan, I remember, with three percent interest. We paid it back after a couple of years but obviously the first million it was kind of gone within a couple of months because one extruder costs six hundred thousand euros. So we got this loan, the first thing we do is buy the machine and the money is empty. Then the fundraising starts. When I think back it was really like, wow, because without all the insights, without all this knowledge it was really trial and error and it was really like, OK, now we have the machine, now we have to get this running, like what comes after the extrusion, the cooking process, and the slicing with spicing. Then we have to pack it for retail, we need a certain shelf life, like there was so much to figure out and we basically built the car on the highway. So it was literally like we had this factory and we produced for retailers, and it was kind of like an R&D pilot factory scale-up. It was a lot of hard work, it was a lot of driving around, it was a lot of testing and selecting which channel, brand private label. We were busy with hiring people for the factory – this was as well one big thing, I mean like building and running a factory at the same time, building sales distribution network, and building the entire company. In the end we had an SAP fully integrated in our company. There was a lot to do and it was a very intense journey, I have to say.
Nicole: It always is so much to do and I don’t think people realize really what it takes. First of all, it’s so much work to even get a product and to be able to scale up, you know, packaging and marketing and distribution and everything else along the way and all of the red tape and regulations you have to go through it – it’s a lot and like you said, it was kind of a crash course in education but that is invaluable information for where you decided to go. Did you think along that line during your time with LikeMeat? Were you thinking about what’s next, or were you just kind of focused on building that brand, and “This is where I want to live and die.” Were you thinking ahead? Was Next Gen Foods even a glimmer at that time?
Timo: No, not at all. I’m from a family business background so for me it was kind of like, “OK I built this business and I hand it over to my son.” This is how I started the business, so there was no venture capital. I needed other shareholders because I needed money to build the business, but it was kind of like for me, this business continues for very long time, and I hand it over. There was no exit idea or any of that. From that perspective, yeah it was special, and I remember from the very early days speaking to our managing director then back in the meat factory, I really remember our city like eight or nine PM, in the dark office and he just came in and said goodbye and I told him about this like super excited, what I discovered and what’s going to happen and it’s going to be big and it’s going to be billions in revenues and he looked at me like, “Yeah…” and you know like obviously you couldn’t see it at all and until today you know there is no plant-based company generating a billion in revenue. So we are still very early in the entire market development and everything. What I never thought would be possible is after running LikeMeat for six, seven years, and then starting from scratch, I was like, “Wow, can I do this after such a long time, really start again?” For two moments I was a bit overwhelmed. And then everything started again and it was so clear. When Andre joined and John moved over, and Jean joined and everyone came together – it was so clear what we want to build. It’s so different to what is there in the market. Now after two years we achieved so much more in one way than LikeMeat ever achieved. We just put it on very different legs – the entire thing. It’s an ultramarathon we are running here, and I think we are now on the right feet, in the right shoes to win it.
Nicole: Well I would certainly say so! OK, so at what point did Andre come into the mix? What did you think when you first met him?
Timo: Well when I first met him, it was at an airport actually. Back then, I looked for investors in Asia in order to buy basically the other shareholders of LikeMeat, because in 2016 I nearly went bankrupt with the company and then we lost majority, so I only had forty-nine [percent] left. In the end, we looked for investors to buy out the other shareholder and take again control of the business, which luckily in the end didn’t work out. We sold the entire business. But on that journey I met Rohit, and the Temasek team. Rohit is our CFO today and he said, “Well look, it’s all of it short-term, maybe. Temasek cannot move that fast.” But out of the first connection back then with Rohit, this introduction Andre resulted. Andre was kind of like all over the place as well, he was just traveling back from Cologne I think, from a trade fair. Then we met here in Singapore very quickly and what I remember is his energy. He was on fire, he was on a mission, I loved his energy, and very awake, and very interested. This was the first memory I have. Long story short, we had an amazing moment and when I decided to move to Singapore and one of the first things when I moved and arrived here, I contact Andre and invite him for lunch. And I told him, “Now I’m here in Singapore, what are you doing?” And then he was like, “You know, I have to tell you something. I left the company.” I said, “This is the best news I ever got! I started this new company and we have to do this together!” And he thought I would be disappointed because I want him to work with LikeMeat and he leaves the company. It was just like really meant to be. It was a moment of like, wow, this is too good to be true, you know? I have to move on this, we have to make this work. It was overnight, it was clear, OK we have to make it work and we figured things out basically more or less. We had a handshake deal before he left for his trip… or on his trip he called me and said yes he wants in. I will not forget this.
Nicole: So I always say that I’ve been collecting these characteristics of TiNDLE insiders and they’re all a little bit crazy. The way your executive team talks about each other with that spark that you have. Our listeners don’t get to see the faces but there is a trust, there is a synergy, there is a, “Yeah! Yeah we can do it. Then let’s break it down on how crazy this is and how in the world we’re going to actually accomplish it.” But you guys all really have that same characteristic and I think that’s something you have sought out when you have hired, and you’ve built this incredible army of people around you and you know I’m sure that that’s part of what has led to your success. It is not easy. You had an unprecedented start-up and I mean the whole world knows it by now, but walk me through what it was like to gain immediate attraction when you went into your seed round.
Timo: Well, first we want a step back actually. It was March 2020 when I came to Asia. There was actually an investor who wanted to finance the new venture. They said, “OK, blank cheque. We give you nine million for twenty five percent of your company,” or something like that. And obviously that sounds great right, but arriving here in Singapore we quickly realized, well what do they know about Asia? We have to do the job, right? Do we really know at this point of time what we are going to do and we had to be honest? No. we have to figure it out. At the same time the market crashed. It was COVID, the stock market is completely down, no one knew if we can travel, it was Zoom everything. There were only two people who started a new business in that moment – either you have a genius idea or you’re crazy, right? I think we are both.
Nicole: Like I’ve been saying!
Timo: Actually we not only do this, we declined even the one and only big offer we have. I just got money from the exit from LikeMeat, so like self-funded. We didn’t have immediate traction. The seed round was later that year and Andre and me, we looked at each other’s eyes and were like, what do we want to do here? What’s this company going to be about? What’s our focus? Geographic, product focused, technology, talent… who do we want to be? How do we want to operate this business? We don’t want any regulatory restrictions; we want to generate revenue now. We don’t want to hide in a lab for five years and work on a magic molecule. We want now. We want to change the world. So this was very clear for us but obviously we needed to build a team as well. I remember our first employee, Maria, she said yes via email, and then John moved over in the pandemic. No one could even get in. And this is when he moved over with his wife, both moved. And then Jean said yes. Obviously we needed a brand. Andre said, “Timo I’m nervous about brands.” I said “Oh we’ll figure it out.” And then Jean obviously said yes. We needed to build our team and we needed a superstar team. We needed the best. We needed the best in the midst of COVID in Singapore. And we found them, and we assembled the team. This was definitely very unique. And then we had a big breakthrough with the product, so it was clear, we want to disrupt the chicken category. John just came up with this amazing texture, and then with Andre’s insights of like how to convince the Chairs and go-to-market so it was all shaping and I was like, “Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.” We had so many “oh yes” moments. And then we discovered this plant-based chicken fat, Lipi – so many things came together. We had this amazing ridiculously good product, this amazing team plus then as well capacity because from our legacy we know a lot of partners out there so we figured out we want to be a supplier, et cetera, so all of our learnings incorporated in this business model and strategy. Then we went to the market. So the market then actually pretty quickly recovered, this V shape in the market, and we started the fundraising round, spoke to so many investors. I was joking but like I have to speak to fifty and one says yes. But at the point when the first investor says yes, there’s ten other following. From the first term sheet on and then a lot of investors come in. With the support of for example MX Kwok, K3 Ventures, he co-led the seed round and really helped us as well to put the round together, get the documents into the right level. We always cultivated our relationship, with the Temasek team, asked them for their opinion on our pitch deck first, like what are your thoughts, here’s our finance model, oh now we go to the market, speak to investors, what do you think about our data room… So, we kept them involved because we knew you cannot invest, it’s a seed round, Temasek doesn’t do in seed rounds, but what’s your opinion? At some point they looked at everything and they said, “Look guys, what do you think if we invest?” And we were like, wow! This was Temasek joining the seed round – the seed round totally exploded because we wanted to raise seven million we had already six or seven… or we already nine I think. It was already oversubscribed and then they wanted obviously a very big chunk of the company which we only could say yes to because we couldn’t have asked for a better partner. This resulted then in the largest record-breaking seed round in the plant-based space – it was eleven million. This blue chip invested.
Nicole: So, you know what I’m hearing is people think, wild success and this happened so fast but the truth, is this was very calculated and of course there is some divine moments in there. But you guys have done this so carefully and thoughtfully and you know, one might even say backwards design – you have thought through the details until the absolute very end of product, and then laid the path and really started making those decisions. But it is my job to ask the hard questions and I want to know what you say to the people who think, well yeah of course they’re successful – they had family money, he just unloaded a company, they had industry connections. It’s hard to start up in this space. What I have loved as a journalist watching this journey before I was on the team, so to speak, was that you guys are not gatekeepers. You have always said, hey here’s what we did successfully, here’s the advice we can give you, and people have always sought your attention in that way because of the outward-facing success that you started to experience. But what about the folks that say, well yeah, you know of course those two are successful?
Timo: I think what makes a good entrepreneur – one is the idea, and the other one is the action. And I think, yes I would agree to be born where we are born, to be educated to that level, to have support from family – it makes a huge difference of course, and we acted on it, and we had a bold idea, and we took huge risks and we worked very, very hard to make it happen. Is it guaranteed that we are successful? No. I went nearly bankrupt with a company and lost the control of a company, of the first one. So, this is not going to happen again. We are much, much smarter in the way we move. I think these learnings and failures are gold, and I think there is indeed a very, very big difference in doing it the first time and the second time. Next Gen could not be where it is today without all these learnings. And it was not only learning from LikeMeat, there was learnings from Andre’s past at BRF and SATS and Jean’s learnings from her past and from Rohit, from John. We put all these learnings together and I think that is very important that we really recognize the ambition we have, the legacy we can bring to the table. Yes, we started on a very different level, we started with five thousand metric tons capacity. We started with a product in year one, we have positive unit economics, we have a positive gross margin. It took me at LikeMeat six years to even break even on gross margin. So yes, there is a big difference and yes, we took our time, we didn’t jump in it in the beginning. We launched within a year, at the same time we really, really thought about the ingredients – with only nine ingredients. We had GMO-free, we really thought about like how about the applications, how can the chefs really work with the product, how can we differentiate our product go-to-market et cetera. So we really thought about in depth brand, and actually this was as well super interesting when we raised the seed round, no one has seen the brand and no one has seen the visuals, nothing. So it was really the exercise the entire team did obviously… Jean, Andre and Andrew. There were so many very smart people involved. We really analyzed this entire landscape to the bone, because everyone said, look this entire space is so convoluted, there’s so many brands and you come up with a new brand. Who needs that and why do you need to be there, what do you make differently? So it’s really taking it to the next level making the consumer really identify and connect on a very different level with that brand and with that product, with this entire experience. We figured that out and how we want to position that. We really want to focus on the chicken market where there is no dominant player so, we really deep-dived in the product deep-dived in the brand and basically the seed round was raised on our capability and ability to build a global brand. It was raised on the ability to scale the product. We really cracked the code on that. We really prepared in depth and then obviously could launch it like a rocket.
Nicole: Like a rocket. And again, it’s been so careful. You guys never rested for a second. You used what you brought to the table to catapult forward in just every single situation and it’s been really fascinating to watch. I think the unique perspectives, the innovation and the company structure that you guys have built, it was built for success, period. No matter what was brought to the table. So again, it’s been exciting to see. What about some surprises along the way for you? Maybe there was some failures or missteps, but what were some surprises in this journey?
Timo: Yeah, there are surprises every day. I think for me really in the beginning a big surprise was the progress and all the achievements, all virtually, all via Zoom. People making life decisions to join our company via Zoom in different cities. We haven’t even met personally – some we knew already from the past obviously was John – but when Jean said yes, that she wants to join us, I think Andre went there and brought her some samples and she opened the door and was like, “Okay, you are real, just double checking!” We launched in Hong Kong, we launched in KL without going there…
Nicole: …this has never been done!
Timo: We developed a product in Singapore, produced it in the Netherlands and launched all over Asia. It was completely virtual. It is a physical product so that was definitely my biggest surprise, I think, that this is possible. Maybe it was as well special for that period, because now obviously it is possible to travel, and people want to see you again. Back then, it was just not available, so we could do this all virtual. I think the resilience and adaptability was really something.
Nicole: So you have attracted a lot of star power attention. Have you had some star-struck moments? I mean, we’re talking Dele Alli, Neil Patrick Harris, Rocco DiSpirito, Paul McCartney! Timo, all interested in investing. Listen, if Paul McCartney’s people are listening we would love to have you on the show. Everyone is on board with what you’re doing. That’s got to be one, so validating, but also on that little level of just, “That’s got to be so exciting!”
Timo: Yeah, I mean it’s unbelievable. The interest, the trust and the support we get and it’s actually very humbling and it’s hard to believe. More importantly, I think it is that these guys really recognize the power they have, because to have all this reach and to have this influence and they use it as a good force. I think the biggest challenge and bottleneck of our industry is consumer conversion. So really to make more people choose plant-based, and also if you live vegan – I always recommend everyone to do at least like four weeks plant-based and see how difficult it is, and then you see the menu options so limited still. Supermarkets, it’s growing but it’s still so early days and I think it’s really about making more people aware so it’s an education part of plant-based, of the benefits of plant-based, and give them a great option to choose. In the end we have to inspire people with our brand, with our product quality, that it becomes a go-to, a go-to choice so they’ll eat plant-based. I love that celebrities, famous people, they have influence, they have reach and they use this for a good cause. So I think it’s a very special thing to partner with like-minded people mission, aligned people and push this entire industry and sector forward.
Nicole: And you know TiNDLE is exciting, and it ridiculously good and the marketing is wonderful and you’re selling a great lifestyle, but the truth is people are buying in because you are eliminating problems in our food systems, and you are insuring a sustainable and nutritious future. So you know, it’s wonderful and it’s cool and it’s successful, but it’s also with a purpose, and I think that’s why it’s been so successful because everything you guys do is with a purpose and it is for everyone. It’s for our future what it is could be wrong with that, right? Taste good and do good.
Timo: Yeah. I think that is definitely something propelling the entire sector forward now, and it takes significant funding to really develop, build the capacities, build a team and really scale up. I mean if TiNDLE would make one billion in revenue it would be only zero point three percent of the chicken market.
Timo: Yeah and it is a huge market, and we have to move fast. We are the last generation that can stop climate change. So literally we have ten years to make a significant impact. So with our eating habits, we can actually do that, so we can change. How long does it take to switch diet, it goes actually pretty fast. It takes something, but we can have an impact and I think especially as well Temasek, I think it’s very, very impressive they put it on number one of their
agenda, and really support companies, bringing the entire sector forward. It’s needed and it’s happening and we still have a very, very long way to go.
Nicole: Yeah. Disruptors – I like that word. That’s a good one. Timo, what would people be surprised to learn about you? Business aside, let’s talk about the personal.
Timo: Business aside, I mean you can imagine I love speed. I’m a thrill seeker. I’m an entrepreneur. I love all of that since a young age. My big passion is actually go-karting. It’s a childhood dream, I always dreamt to become a Formula One driver. When I was eight, my father took me to the go-kart track and everything but then I didn’t continue at that point of time, like a career there because it takes a lot of time, and you need all weekends basically on the karting track. Then I turned eighteen and I had my own car, and I asked my cousin to help me, so then I started again with go-karting. In one class, I won the German championship and even went to the world finals so this was absolutely my highlight. I loved it. Every minute after work and on the weekend spent on the tracks. I could’ve imagined my life going in that direction. Obviously it was a dream. My father said, “Timo, no question you go off and study.” He always had a huge impact on my life, but this is definitely a fun fact. This is still a childhood dream, I’m still a thrill seeker but get my thrills out of Next Gen and TiNDLE. It moves as fast.
Nicole: That’s true. Okay, so when you rest, what does that look like for you? I should say if you rest.
Timo: I do believe in rest, I really do. There is this book, ‘Peak Performance’. It’s like a muscle – you contract it and you have to relax it. Otherwise, you’re not performing. So I really do believe in rest and I do believe in sleep. It’s actually basics, it’s real basic. Sleep, clean food, drink in the morning. My routine before we had the baby – the baby was my disruptor as well a little bit. Before the baby everyone has more time for themselves. I have my six, seven hours of sleep then I always started in the morning with either a big glass of water with lemon, with ginger and then I went for a run. So, I always had my routine – my sleep, my fresh air, my workout and then I figured as well how I eat the best. Some people like to eat like bigger meals in the morning, or lunch or dinner. I figured out that I rather not eat raw things in the evening because it takes longer for me to digest and I don’t sleep that well. Anyway, my life is very exciting because of the things I do, so I needed to steer a little bit into the other direction, and I eat rather warm in the evening and so definitely I’m kind aware of the effect, and the needs of my body and I really think that rest is important. I think there’s other sports I love to do and that gives me always a little bit of a counterbalance and takes my thoughts away from the business, because actually the best ideas for the business I always have when I’m not in the office, not busy doing business. So when I’m out there and then thoughts can come.
Nicole: Do you get to spend much time in Germany?
Timo: The last two years less obviously, with COVID and all. And now the Germany launch is
just coming up so I’m really looking forward to go to Germany. I’ve spent there many, many years, so I’m very happy as well now here in Singapore with Katerina and Enzo. We built our
little family here which is super special. But we travel there. Now travelling with babies and jetlag it’s less. It’s more planned.
Nicole: It changes everything, doesn’t it? It really does.
Timo: Yeah it does. Sometimes I miss Germany, definitely.
Nicole: So we’ve talked a little bit about what it takes to be a ridiculously good entrepreneur, but what makes you a ridiculously good Chairman for Next Gen?
Timo: Oh I’m the biggest supporter of Andre. We really strategize together. Our relationship is very, very important and I think that’s the core of our co-founder friendship really. Because we have to push boundaries and each of us should be able to speak about everything. At the same time we have to solve big questions together. He moved to Chicago, I’m still here in Singapore.
Nicole: How dare he!
Timo: So technically we can work twenty four hours. It was a very brave and bold move he did back then, August last year. When he made the decision to move to build the biggest market, it’s definitely a different role. In the beginning, I had to get used to it. I mean the CEO is leadership role. The CEO is in control. And that’s Andre. So, I handed over the control and that’s a new feeling. And I thought, how can I get involved? When I speak to the team, I’m not giving any instructions and my word has a different weight as well. I really have to be more aware of what I say and how I say it, so it is a learning journey. Luckily with Andre and me, we have a great relationship and we always figure things out, which is great. Now I think it’s right. I feel very comfortable in this role right now because it is really big picture. It is really where is our vision, really big picture, being kind of like a little bit zoomed out. Then with Andre together, we can look at things together. I can be his sounding board and it’s actually a great fit. I feel more comfortable in that role. Obviously then I’m close to investors, close to all Board members and there’s always something to do.
Nicole: What’s next for Next Gen?
Timo: I think for us the most important is now driving the growth. Obviously the market environment is constantly changing. It can be super sunny today and next day it’s monsoon rain, and maybe the day after its sunny again, who knows? I think we really have to focus on what we do today. Obviously we don’t lose track on our big goal, big picture, but we have a great focus now on our business in terms of big target markets which are US, UK and Germany, where we want to generate significant revenues in the next twelve months, in the next years. It’s really about now the leap into retail, really manifesting our brand, bring it closer to the consumer, really grow the brand with activations. In the end, it’s all about generating significant revenues and make more people eat plant-based, I think that’s our biggest mission right now. For that we are blessed. We have great talent, really the best team. We have an outstanding product. I just got back from the US and it was like, people were raving about the product. So it was literally the best chicken in the market right, you know? It’s like it’s a big word but that was the feedback we got. And then we have like TiNDLE, super strong brand. Now it’s doubling down on what’s there and really show what we can do.
Nicole: And we are all here for it. I can’t believe it but we’ve reached the end of our conversation already. We like to end with the same few questions but we let the guests choose – do you want to take the easy way or the hard out of here today?
Timo: I do it as I do it always in my life. Take the hard way.
Nicole: I knew you were going to say that! So tell me how do you handle disappointment?
Timo: Oh that’s a good one. Disappointment… I try not immediately to react and have an emotional reaction. Obviously I do have the strong emotional reactions. It’s like my feelings are there, right? One trick I actually learned is to give space to these emotions. So all the time when I resist my emotions, they become bigger, so when I say, what is this, I’m disappointed, it’s a wrong emotion and I’m angry and then I try to fight this emotion, this emotion persists and is actually growing. So for me a little bit of a technique I found out is that I really just give space to that emotion a bit and just let it be. Actually emotions disappear after ninety seconds, or they definitely become less in intensity. So I don’t want to say I breathe it away but I give space, I accept all of my emotions, and all of my emotions are welcome. They’re not necessarily leading to immediate actions – but this is kind of like how I deal this it and if it’s really bad I have to go a run. Actually, I go for a walk, I go out and I have to move and I have to breathe. That helps. Or eat something good, you know? Food calms you down as well.
Nicole: Absolutely! That’s such solid advice. What are you afraid of?
Timo: I’m afraid of not reaching my potential and not doing something useful with the time being there. So it’s always like… I don’t want to say restless, but I have to be up for the next big thing. I feel sometimes, oh now I’m resting? What am I doing here? I’m not busy enough. Am I really moving something very significant, very big? So that maybe comes a bit from my thrill-seeker side, that I have to work on something very big and fast and global. Then I get a bit of anxiety really when I’m not moving anything. It’s a special feeling, as if I would waste my time, or not live up to the full potential.
Nicole: Hmm. Do you have a life slogan, motto or verse?
Timo: Not really. For me, it’s that everything is possible. My father gave me a big drive because he always, well not always, but he was like, “No Timo, that’s not possible, that doesn’t work like this,” and then I had to prove to him. So he actually gave me a lot of drive because I wanted to prove the impossible is possible. So you know, this is kind of like…I proved that the impossible is possible.
Nicole: What is something the world needs more of?
Timo: I would say compassion. Very often I take things personal. I’m defensive, I avoid things. So really listening to other people and putting myself in their shoes and really kind of feel like, “Yeah it must be really tough,” or like really try to understand and listen openly with compassion. I think that there can’t be enough of that in our world.
Nicole: Timo, it has been a pleasure to talk to you. Welcome to the show, boss! We’re glad you were here.
Timo: Yeah thanks for having me! Big pleasure. Very cool. And thank you very much for the very thoughtful questions and I really enjoyed it, thank you.
Nicole: Thank you for listening to The Ridiculously Good Podcast. I’m Nicole Astra, take care talk soon.
Timo: Bye bye guys. See you soon. Bye!