The leading food tech company, which replicates animal products using plants through artificial intelligence, was chosen by Fast Company among the 50 most innovative companies in the world and the No. 1 in Latin America. To learn about their challenges, we spoke with María Sol de Cabo, their HR Director Latin America.
What are the challenges that you faced during your first year in NotCo?
When I took on the challenge in NotCo I was finishing my maternity leave.
So our main challenge has to do with the growth of the squad, our people, the structure, and finding the right talent today to join in this challenge that we have, which is enormous. And when I say find the right talent, I mean finding people who are at the right time in their career to make the jump; they have the desire and the enthusiasm to join an expanding company with a fantastic purpose that has a lot to build and grow. But, still, it needs a lot of dedication and energy to build this footprint related to the expansion the organization is having in Latinamerica as in the United States.
NotCo is a Chilean company founded by Karim Pichara, Matías Muchnick, and Pablo Zamora.
Taking this challenge of growth and adaptation to the post-pandemic world, what were those changes you promoted from HR in this adaptation to the “new normal”?
Beyond the specific changes we made, the main issue was to accept that this new normal is here to stay and that this new way to make agile decisions we could adopt and see how it worked. Being a young company, we reacted quickly. And the primary learning that we went through was caring for people, making it possible for them to continue working from home with the necessary elements and tools, with the understanding of flexibility and empathy towards the change of dynamics within each household. Those were the main points that we worked on from the leadership and the company to make things happen.
One thing we noticed was that people’s commitment didn’t slow down. That gave us the certainty that people are connected with the company’s purpose, what they have to deliver in their performance, and what we are building together.
In Chile, for example, we did not return to the offices. Not until we see how the pandemic evolves.
Let’s talk about your purpose as a brand; how do you live that purpose inside the company?
Our purpose as a company is to reset the food industry. Produce the food we love to eat but take care of the environment. Match the products, but without affecting the diet. We use artificial intelligence in collaboration with humans to maintain the attributes of flavor, color, texture, and aroma. So we make the equation fit, and it is not a sacrifice for people, and they can enjoy eating.
Our purpose is to shift the diet to contribute to the environment without people having to sacrifice in taste.
Another fact is that we are not oriented to the vegan or vegetarian audience, but the flexitarian, we bring a new way of eating that makes the people migrate consciously and voluntarily mainly aimed at protecting the world and the environment without having to sacrifice things we like.
The company has operative branches in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and the United States, and will soon be in Mexico and Canada.
In your company, diverse profiles stand out with notable people in technology, science, marketing entrepreneurship, and more; how do you drive the gears together?
NotCo is a museum of cultures; we look for highly diverse talents and profiles in their way of thinking and their professions and gradually add them to the team with the healthy ambition related to changing the food industry.
Some managers and executives reconnected with their purpose through joining the organization. They chose to leave their corporate careers because they see the agility and speed at which the industry moves.
We produce products in a margin of 6 to 8 months; in other traditional mass consumption industries, it would take two years. What delays the product is not using technology and not working in interdisciplinary profiles.
This company has an extra foundation that is to combines science, technology, and execution. So it is a great challenge from the talent area, but it’s pretty satisfying when you see all that we’ve built.
And how would you describe the culture?
The first phrase that comes to mind is, it is a culture that is right but not perfect. And it is something that we place a lot of emphasis on; we do not have the perfect leadership, but it is the right one for the moment we are in, this moment of growth, no area is perfect, but the decisions we make are correct.
Seeking perfection for a growing business can be a double-edged sword. The people who work in this organization are characterized by our endless desire to learn fast, try, fail, and occasionally get outstanding achievements.
We are a group of people advancing tirelessly to change the food system, the mentality of the consumer market and thus protect the world, our health, future generations, and animals.
How has investment impacted the business?
Each investor that comes aboard makes us double down on our responsibility, and beyond pride, it lets us know we are doing things right. So we have a sense of urgency and managing well those funds building up from three main pillars, the first making it a sustainable business over time, the second that the company performs well, that it can begin to be sustainable, and that all the invested capital is well oriented to expand on to other countries, to invest in making new products, new categories and of course to continue growing and incorporating talent.
What can we expect next from NotCo?
Many new things to come! Mainly to continue growing and expanding in the Latin American market, with more products and categories that we will be communicating through social networks. Expansion, products, and people. We’ll continue to bring the right, not the perfect talent to this challenge, to this chaotic but fun and challenging company-building experience.
Maria Sol de Cabo | HR Director Latin America