When Karuna Rawal got a call from a recruiter about a marketing gig at a startup that uses a microbe found in Yellowstone National Park to make protein-packed, animal-free food, she was intrigued. The lifelong vegetarian joined the company, now called Nature's Fynd, as its chief marketing officer and first marketing hire. Now, she and her Chicago-based team are just starting to get the company's name out in the world while preparing to launch its first products next year.
"Literally, what the CEO handed me was a blank piece of paper and said 'here, go build a brand,'" Rawal said during the Ad Age Next: Food & Beverage Conference. "As marketers, we don't get the chance to do that too many times."
Rawal seized the opportunity after having worked on bigger established brands, including Jif peanut butter and Folgers coffee during her tenure at Procter & Gamble and on brands including Sunny Delight and Sara Lee as a consultant. At Leo Burnett, she was a lead strategist on P&G’s Always “Like a Girl” campaign and led the agency’s shopper marketing arm, Arc Worldwide.
Nature's Fynd claims it uses 99 percent less land and 87 percent less water than traditional beef production and emits 99 percent fewer greenhouse gases. It counts two strategic investors from the food industry: ingredients manufacturer ADM and French dairy giant Danone. Plus, former Kraft Foods Group CEO Tony Vernon sits on its board and says he invested his own funds based on the potential he sees in the company. Additional investors include Generation Investment Management, whose chairman is Al Gore; and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose funders include Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Bill Gates.
Hear more from Rawal in the "Ad Lib" podcast link above—and Nature's Fynd's latest creative below.