Back in 2016, Eric Schulze was working as an FDA regulator and happened upon a Reddit article discussing Memphis Meats’ cell-based meatball prototype. He was immediately fascinated with all the possibilities and challenges the company would encounter over the next few years.
Schulze reached out to the company’s cofounder and CEO, Uma Valeti. Memphis Meats (now called Upside) was looking for a scientist to help start the company’s embryonic cell line development and Schulze had the skills for the position. Before long, he was on his way to New York City where Valeti was giving a speech at the United Nations.
“I ran across Manhattan in a suit,” Schulze told me in a conversation on Clubhouse. Valeti “was of course poised and ready to go on stage. We had a great talk. He went back in and gave his talk. I accepted and I moved out to the west coast sight unseen.”
Schulze’s role in the company would eventually grow to encompass not only leading the company’s cell-based meat design, but also heading up regulatory oversight, an evolution that was very intentional and by design.
Valeti “made me a deal,” said Schulze. “He said, ‘You help me get the cell division off the ground. We’ll we’ll hand it off to someone later. But also, can you in parallel start thinking about how and how we’re going to build this regulatory system.”
You can hear the story of that early meeting, the thinking behind why Memphis changed its name to Upside, why the company chose chicken as its first product and much more on the latest episode of the Food Tech Show podcast.
Just click play below or find the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.