ll archives: Ingredient1's Taryn Fixel
If there is one thing we looove at Ladypreneur League, it's good food. How exciting that Ingredient1 founder Taryn Fixel created an app just for people like us, no? Ingredient1's mission is to help people feel a sense of community, discovery, and joy when shopping for foods by creating transparency in the grocery store. Taryn's app connects the entire food chain, bringing knowledge, health, and global change through the one thing everyone does every day: Eat. We are happy to share her story with you all. Read on and be inspired!
Name: Taryn Fixel
Current location: New York, NY
Where are you from? Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Education: University of Michigan graduate. Go Blue!
Business & Formal Title: Founder & CEO, Ingredient1
Tell us about Ingredient1. How did it come to be? Ingredient1 is transforming the way people discover healthy foods. We are creating your FOOD ID - a unique lens to discover foods you'll love - see friends' recommendations - and learn where those products are sold. The ingredient1 mobile app catalogues all natural and organic foods, allowing you to search by multiple granular ingredient and diet variations - so you can find exactly what you are looking for within a click of a button.
My mom and I were discussing the challenge of finding food that matches our preferences - and how overwhelming the grocery shopping experience can be. I became enamored with the idea that technology could fix this - and that consumers would then be empowered to help the market know what they wanted. So I went to an industry food show and started asking why nothing like ingredient1 existed yet. There was a need, which would also create a solution for natural and organic brands that have a high failure rate because there is no clear path to discovering great products. So I started building it.
What is your company slogan/mission? Be Picky. Our mission is to help people feel a sense of community, discovery, and joy when they shop for foods, whatever they're shopping for. We bring knowledge, health, and global change through the one thing everyone does every day: Eat. Dollars spent on food have stronger impacts than votes, yet there is no search and discovery tool to help people make personalized and informed decisions.
What did you do before launching Ingredient1? At what point did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur instead? I was a documentary and investigative journalist with CBS and CNN, a career I loved. My parents are both entrepreneurs, so I grew up in an environment where it was encouraged to identify a passion, a gap in the market, and then create a project at the intersection. There was never a question that I would do that too, either as an “intreprenuer” or an “entrepreneur.”
Whenever you decided that you were ready to take the leap, what were your next steps? Interview consumers and brands to identify the major pain points - what problems did they have? The types of technology needed exists, why doesn't the product exist yet? What are the hurdles that have prevented anything like ingredient1 from being created so far? A major problem on the market was that noone had a dataset of natural and organic products or ingredients, connected to diets and allergens. So I started building that. We now have a database 3x the size of the USDA’s ingredient and product database.
How long has it been since you first launched Ingredient1? What is different now versus the very beginning? Has anything become easier to manage? What has become harder? I started building ingredient1 two years ago and we launched publicly in March this year. Since I started, there is much greater awareness of the benefits of Non-GMO foods and the idea that diet should be bio- individual- there is no one size fits all - so its much easier to explain the value of what we’re creating. I’m not sure anything has become harder - it’s just a question of scale. Scaling a team, scaling the data, scaling the product - they are all expected challenges that every company faces.
What was the biggest thing you overcame launching Ingredient1? Finding the initial team of people with the skill sets needed, congruous personalities, and a relentless drive for solving this problem.
Would you describe Ingredient1 as your “dream job”? Why or why not? What constitutes a dream job for you? My dream job involves improving access to information, creating unique experiences around that information to help people make informed personal decisions, and ultimately using that to impact the way they see or interact with the world. Ingredient1 does this in a variety of ways - streamlining information about food and creating experiences that help people easily find what matches their philosophies.
5 years ahead of every job I’ve had, I would have thought “wow, that’s a dream job for me.” The challenge is remembering that when you’re in the job - and appreciating that as you grow, dreams do too. So, absolutely, Ingredient1 is my dream job today.
Entrepreneurs live and breathe their businesses. How do you balance work and life? Do you think that’s even possible? I recently heard the phrase: You’re a human being, not a human doing. Balance is necessary, though its a constant struggle to figure out where that is as the ground shifts - particularly in sprints when you need to push hard. I’ve set up a few rules for myself: if I’m not traveling, I don’t work Saturdays before 1pm. I do something to turn off my brain one time each week, usually for me that means going to the theater.
What does your daily routine consist of? I try to map my day to my energy rhythms. The work itself is never the same, but my head is clearest in the morning, so that’s when I write or take on bigger challenges. I get tired around 3, so that’s a good time to take a break and reenergize myself by meeting someone interesting. Before I go to work and again when I come home, I pick an item from my grab bag of tools to stay in balance: meditation, listen to NPR, swim, walk someone else’s dog (life’s too busy to have my own right now!). That’s when I get my best ideas.
You have to do it and you hate it – what is your least favorite task to do at Ingredient1? Balance the bank account.
You’re on the verge of a “business-lady-breakdown”. How do you unwind? I have a “personal board of advisors,” so to speak, who I know want us to succeed, but who are detached from the outcome of ingredient1. Depending on the issue, I turn to one of them to break down the problem. I write down my fears, what the moving parts of the puzzle are, ideal outcomes, and a gratitude list. After that, I sleep on it. The next step usually reveals itself.
What did you think you’d be doing now at age 10? Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company or Public Theater.
Tell us 3 of your cannot-live-without ladypreneur apps. Slack, LinkedIn, Spotify, and of course Ingredient1.
Top 5 favorite cities? Istanbul, Cape Town, Tunis, London, and New York.
Red, White, Sparkling or stronger? I’m foodcentric, so it depends on the pairing. I’m always in grocery stores - so I’m rarely without a great flavored water. This spring’s favorites are Hint’s Pear flavored sparking water, Hal New York’s Vanilla Creme flavored sparking water, and Suja’s Lemon Love!
Tell us the best place to eat in New York. If it’s your kitchen, share your best recipe. My friends kitchens! So many of them are creators of interesting artisanal foods - today I had homemade hazelnut milk and hazelnut protein bars. They’re not my recipes, so I can’t share, but we’ll let you know if they come to market through ingredient1!
Words to live by: Everything, absolutely everything, happens for my greater good. ￼ In 3 years you’ll be: One of my favorite Sondheim quotes is “If you could know where you’re going, you’ve already gone.” There’s a field of infinite possibility.
What advice would you give to budding ladypreneurs interested in tech? Look at your skill sets and determine what core competencies you have that make you great at that skill. Figure out what other skills you can acquire based on those competencies. And this is important: Understand what you are not good at. That’s ok, an honest assessment of yourself will help you understand what needs to happen or what you need to attract to get projects to the next level.