Q&A with iwi’s CEO, Miguel Calatayud
Despite significant headwinds, 2021 was a year of progress for iwi. From pioneering innovations in our farms and labs to new product launches and sustainable packaging options, we’ve kept our eyes firmly focused on the future. We sat down with our Founder and CEO, Miguel Calatayud, to reflect on the company’s recent challenges and achievements, and to learn more about what to expect from iwi in the new year and beyond.
Q: Hey, Miguel! Let’s rewind to the beginning before you bring us up to speed. What was the original inspiration for creating iwi? Do you remember a specific “Aha” moment?
Miguel: The company started as a technology platform geared toward creating ingredients. We created iwi as a vehicle to directly deliver better nutrition to our customers, in a sustainable way, providing the best products in their categories.
Q: You’ve had an impressive career as founder and leader of disruptive global companies. How did your previous experience help you bring iwi to scale?
Miguel: What I’ve learned in my previous life is that we must focus on the consumer. The end consumer is our reason to exist. All our actions, technology, product development, and go-to-market must be consumer driven. In our case, we provide our customers with the best solution in the market, and we do it in a sustainable way, using a 100% plant-based platform.
Q: There are those who say you can either turn a profit, or you can protect the planet, but you can’t do both. Would you say that’s a false choice?
Miguel: We believe in conscious capitalism. Our business model has been built in a way that the bigger impact we make, the bigger our business will become, and vice versa. As we expand internationally, we’ll be bringing our sustainable farming methods to places with little-to-no arable land or fresh water – places where no one would have dreamt farming possible. That’s “social sustainability,” as we’re creating jobs in remote, rural-desertic areas with independent, economically viable production units. We’re democratizing farming.
Q: Recent studies show that consumers are increasingly likely to support brands whose values align with their own. Have you found that to be true with iwi customers? Can you share some of the feedback you’ve received?
Miguel: It‘s easier to change the world than to change consumer habits; but we need consumers to be on board if we want to change the world. We must create products that beat or exceed consumers’ expectations and the existing products in those categories– while doing it in a sustainable, plant-based way. We need to become the obvious choice for consumers.
Q: Tell us about some of the advancements made at iwi in the past year. What prompted them, and what are you most proud of?
Miguel: We took our iwi line to the main retailers in the US, making it the fastest growing Omega-3 brand in the country; we published our peer-reviewed clinical study; we successfully launched our online platform; and we consolidated a great team, both operationally and at the board level.
Q: Between COVID and the ongoing climate crisis, what lessons have you learned during these extraordinary times, and do you see a silver lining?
Q: Now that we’re up to speed, can you give us a preview of what to expect from iwi in 2022? Any top-secret products coming down the pike?
Miguel: We’ll continue growing triple digits and we’ll launch the most convenient, complete, and functional protein product ever.
Q: Necessity is the mother of invention. What are the most urgent needs facing the planet and how is iwi poised to lead the way in addressing them?
Miguel: We need to do more with less if we want to be able to feed 10 billion people within the next 30 years. And we need to use resources that wouldn’t otherwise be utilized. At iwi we produce a very unique algae, Nannochloropsis, using non-arable land, saltwater, and the sun as our main energy source. We consume/offset hundreds of tons of CO2 per year to produce the best Omega-3 and the best protein, while creating jobs and having fun. Sustainability means productivity, traceability, high quality, and preserving our present and our future.
Q: Finally, let’s fast way forward. What’s your vision of where iwi will be in 2031?
Miguel: We’re improving food and nutrition as we know it by making it healthier and more convenient. Our unique, plant-based protein has more essential and branched chain amino acids than egg and whey, 90% absorption and extreme solubility which allowed us to bring unique, healthy, tasty, high protein, and low calories solutions to our customers. It also contains a high percentage of dietary fiber.
We’re also changing the Omega-3 supplement business forever. High absorption and efficacy is the name of the game. We’ll be leading the Omega-3 category in the US and we’ll be one of the reference brands in plant-based nutrition internationally. It’s our duty to prioritize our health, individually and as a community, while preserving the planet for future generations.