SPEAKER: So first of all, welcome to everyone. We're really happy to have you here, and I just love this event. Our partnership has this amazing program. I've been fortunate to be involved for about 15 years, since I've been back on campus. And I'll tell you a little bit about why I'm here.
So first of all, I'm very grateful to Cornell that they believe in any person, any study, any person because they actually admitted me, which is a good thing. And any study because they were very open to me creating a new kind of an interdisciplinary dual degree program. I was accepted to the architecture school for master of architecture, for an MBA and for a Sloan certificate. So they all seemed to think this was an interesting idea.
And so then my career path ended up more traditional-- originally working hospitals, combining ideas actually from hospitality as well because I took a lot of courses in the hotel school and facility planning and management. Then that transitioned into entrepreneurship, where I was fortunate enough to get involved with the firm that was developing specialty outpatient clinics-- a durable medical equipment company and contract services for hospitals. Two of my partners had big financial problems.
So then I learned about the next phase of my career-- about mergers and acquisitions-- because I'd prefer the company to sell it. Then partnered with another guy to form an M&A firm that did professional services where I built the health side, and he did technology. We did that for 10 years. And then along the way, as a very active CU volunteer, I was asked to come back up on a part-time basis and help out here. And I'm still here 15 years later.
I brought up my half of the firm and did M&A. But now I'm more or less full-time doing things here. And so I started out at Sloan.
And then Sloan program-- if you don't know about it-- is a health administration program we do in MHA. It's in Human Ecology. It was in business school, when I was there.
And along the way, we've been fortunate enough through some colleagues, like Professor [INAUDIBLE] over here, to develop a sort of an entrepreneurial start-up, which is the Institute for Healthy Futures. So a little bit about that. It's a unique joint venture between Hotel JCP and Human Ecology. It's the first organization of its type anywhere, that we're aware of, and it combines this idea of taking ideas from hospitality and evidence-based design research and see if we can do things to improve wellness, various parts of the health care system, including senior living and other areas.
And so I won't go through this whole thing, but you can see some of the things we're involved in. We're just launching a new minor to try and expose students across different disciplines so that they have a broader base of thinking. And I've been fortunate to have some students, including some over here, who are looking at doing this now, which is great.
We've also been fortunate to get some great interest in the part of a lot of different parts of the industry. You can see we have people from the hotel world, people from spa and wellness, physician group, a number of people in the hospital and health services delivery area. Some people are private equity investment banks. Folks who are in the senior living world and some people who actually do standard setting for job for wellness.
So anyway, that's a little bit about us. And my colleague, [? Rohit, ?] developed this, which we're just excited about the intersection of these fields. And the panelists are a great way of looking at some of these different things.
So we're going to start out with Alex really setting the stage. He's actually a professor here at the Hotel School and is an entrepreneur himself, has worked in the food and beverage area for many years. He'll set the tone, and then we'll go to Jackie, who's actually one of his former students, and a student of Professor [INAUDIBLE] and other people here, who really kind of embrace the entrepreneurship idea to launch a really innovative, new plant-based food-focused restaurant that is trying to mainstream some of those concepts. And it's a great place. I just got there the other day.
And then we're fortunate-- if you didn't hear the Pelin's talk yesterday, you should. She's just an amazing entrepreneur, who's had this incredible journey, but she's now phased into another part of her career, which is really attempting to take CBD and some other kinds of things and introduce them to the world. But more importantly than that, she's spending a lot of money with her foundation to try and do the research to really show how these things work. So we're looking to everybody. And Alex, if you want to kick it off, that would be great.
ALEX SUSSKIND: Sure, well, welcome, everyone. I'm really happy to be here today. And I'm really happy to be a part of this whole process.
So as Brooke mentioned, I'm a professor in the hotel school, and I teach food and beverage management. And I focus on basically operations and strategy. So in other words, how to kind of think about things that need to be done and actually get them done. And Brooke had mentioned that I'm an entrepreneur, and that's actually a mischaracterization.
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs that are creative, and I don't want to insult all of the creative minds that are out here that come up with ideas. Like Jackie, for example, is an entrepreneur. I help entrepreneurs figure out how to make their ideas become real.
So I'm not a creative thinker. Jackie is a creative thinker. I don't consider it a limitation. It's just a fact.
And so my research focuses on communication and service processor management. And so it's the perfect way to be involved in the hotel school, for one thing but also in the Cornell Institute for Health and Futures because there's so much going on. And the food service piece, which I am wrapped around, is probably one of the most important things. And so if you think about it, health is important.
We all need our health. How many of you would consider yourself healthy? We're all healthy. That's awesome.
And so there are lots of things that we do for health, and that's important. Food is probably one of the most important things related to health. That if you don't eat well, if you don't have access to food, to a food supply, all those things that create problems. In addition to disease and all that other stuff, food is really, really important.
And so what I've recently started to do is focus on the importance of nutrition, and how nutrition is really, really an important part of everything that we do. And because I'm in the restaurant side of the business, restaurants are notoriously-- they're known for maybe having things that aren't so good for you.
How many of you have been to McDonald's? I love McDonald's, but a lot of people would say McDonald's isn't good for you. How many of you have been the Jackie's Restaurant? OK, that food is good for you. I mean, McDonald's here, which I love, by the way, and Jackie's restaurant here, which I love, by the way. So there's lots of stuff going on, and I'm really interested in providing ways to give consumers information, so they can make the best choices.
You can go to McDonald's once in a while, and you'll be fine. You can go to a Jackie's Restaurant once in a while and be fine too. You don't have to eat there every day. So there's kind of this intersection.
And some of the research that I'm doing is looking at how consumers use information to make better decisions. And that's really what it all comes down to. So there are people who are opposed to nutritional labeling.
Let me ask you another question. How many of you use nutritional information when you make decisions about what you eat? Let's do this again.
In grocery stores, how many of you read labels? Well, OK, we all do. When restaurants provide you with that information, how many of you use that information? OK, fewer and not all restaurants provide that information.
There is a law actually on the books that is going to require that very soon for at least for multi-unit restaurant companies that have 20 units or more. But how many of you would really like to have nutritional information at every place you go? OK, so yeah, so some people really like it. And a few of you didn't raise your hand, and I totally get that.
And so the idea is information really provides consumers with power. And if you provide them with information about what it is that's available, what it is that they're eating, that's going to make a big difference. And I'm only going to talk about two other things because I'm not the entrepreneur in the group here. I think you need to hear from them probably more than me. But traceability is another big thing.
When we think about our food supply and what we eat and where we eat, we want to know more about where our food is coming from. And we want to have systems in place to make sure that we stay safe, that we know when there is a problem in the food supply, that we can figure out where that came from, and that we can avoid that from happening.
How many of you shop at Wegmans or have shopped at Wegmans? So when you enter in your shopper's club information, they know what you order, and they know when you purchase particular things. Has anyone ever gotten a recall notice from Wegmans-- either through email or on your phone? They do that because they had your information.
They knew that a product that they sold to you had a problem, and they let you know about it. That's food traceability. That's awesome. That's something that I think really we need to do more of that.
And chain restaurants now-- it's not required by law, but the wholesaler side of the business is now moving into a system where they're going to be better at tracing food. At some point, it's going to become a law because basically laws come to be because problems emerge, and we want to try to find a way to solve them. And usually, laws or regulation kind of helps us do that. Now you can like regulation or not. But generally speaking, that's what we have.
So traceability is the next big thing and then sustainability. And I think that ties probably more into the panelists here. Making sure that we can do right by the environment that we live in, making sure that our food supply is safe, making sure that it's sustainable, and that we're were doing no harm to the environment that we live in.
And Jackie, in particular, with her restaurant, my wife is a vegan. And in Ithaca, we're pretty lucky to live in Ithaca. There are lots and lots of options for vegans.
But when you go to other places, you may not be so lucky. And having the option to eat well and having the option to basically know that this was in the ground yesterday, or this food was in the ground a couple of days ago, and now I'm eating it is actually pretty cool. And there are companies that are trying to do this. And you'll probably poo-poo me when I say this but Panera, McDonald's, Darden Restaurant, which is a large casual dining conglomerate, they are all thinking more about this. They're thinking more about having better food.
McDonald's-- they use fresh eggs in their Egg McMuffins. Those are real fresh eggs, and they're going cage-free by 2020. You may say, well, that's not enough. McDonald's needs to do way more. And they only do stuff when people yell at them or stand out in front with their signs protesting.
But again, I think that as we get smarter, as consumers become smarter, as consumers have access to more information, what we'll find is that the companies that are doing business in this space-- the people that are providing us with the nourishment that we need to live-- and I look at food as more than just nourishment, by the way. I look at it as entertainment. I look at it as a living. I make my living because people eat, and I love that.
And so with that in mind, I think there's lots and lots of really good stuff going on. And the healthy futures model is amazing because how do you design things makes a difference. How you care for people makes a difference, and how you basically treat people makes a difference. And that's kind of where we stand now. So that's it-- down from my soapbox.
JACQUELINE FALKENBERG: Thank you so much for having me here. My name is Jackie. I graduated in May.
And I opened Nikki Green, which is a restaurant downtown it's whole food plant-based, and we work with a lot of local farmers to source our ingredients. And so today, I wanted to talk about my interests, and how I turned my love of cooking into an actionable purpose. And how I integrated health hospitality and designed to really feel that purpose.
So first, I started off with this interest in cooking. I had parents that were great cooks, and they never let me in the kitchen. They didn't touch any knives growing up.
And so it created this kind of intrigue around being there, and I always wanted to get in there and get my hands dirty and be baking with them. And the second I could, I started working in kitchens. And I chose fine dining because I knew that-- or I thought I knew-- that if you're paying more for your food, then you must be getting more for your money. It must be better ingredients.
And I learned while I was there that that's not always the case. And so I started working for this juice company, and it's called Project Juice. They have 13 locations in California, and they basically take a whole pound of organic produce and fit it into a juice bottle. And so they had to price their juices at $12 a bottle.
And we found it really difficult to sell that to our customers at the time because they didn't understand the difference between that organic juice and the $4 watered-down coconut cucumber water that they were getting at the place next door. And so this really spurred my passion for healthy food.
And at the time, my mom was vegetarian, and she was trying to get my sister and I to be vegetarian with her. And every time we'd sit down at the dinner table, she would pull out her phone and say, before we eat this meat, just watch this animal cruelty video.
And that wasn't really getting us to be vegetarian either. It wasn't like we saw the video, and we're like, oh, you're so right. I'm going to give up meat right here. And I found a lot of correlation between the way that I was trying to sell this better juice to people that just weren't buying it as frequently as we wanted them to, and my mom trying to get me to be vegetarian, in that way.
And so I eventually did go vegan, and I tried to get my sister to be vegan with me. And she would not do it. Her famous quote is, "can I still be vegan and eat prosciutto?" And I was like, no, you can't. And she was like, well, then I'm not doing it. And so I had this purpose, and I wanted her to be vegan with me.
I knew it was so easy for me to do it once I started cooking all these great meals. And so while she was gone at work for the summer, I would get home early, and I would make all these beautiful plant-based meals. And I would make them smell and look beautiful so that when she got home, she would look at it and say, hey, can I try a little bit of that. And I was like, sure, you can try some.
And she would eventually succumb to eating that meal and say, would it be all right if I had that instead of the steak that dad had grilled for me? And I was like, yeah, absolutely. And so I started to get those meals into her diet, and I realized that that was my true purpose. It was to get those meals into her diet.
And even if she didn't consider herself vegan, she was definitely eating a lot better. And so that was kind of where the idea came from for Nikki Green. Her name is Nikki, and it was a way to get people like her, who aren't vegan, to eat more greens.
So I think we can all agree. A lot of you raised your hands for this-- that we all want to be healthy. New Year's Eve comes around, and everyone's making New Year's resolutions that they want to go to the gym more, that they want to eat healthier.
But then maybe one month later, you're driving home from work, and you see those golden arches. And you're thinking I can just stop in and get my quick meal and be fine. Just one meal-- this isn't my lifestyle. I'm just going in to get it.
And as Professor [INAUDIBLE] said, that's fine. If you have a bad meal every once in a while, it doesn't really matter. But my goal was to make it as easy to make that decision at [INAUDIBLE] Green.
And the ways that I found that, through my research, before opening the restaurant were through fast casual settings-- the approachable and limited menu and also the convenient location. And so the first part of it was making it a really easy environment for people to come in, get their food, and get out. A lot of people-- they don't want to have like a fine dining nice meal because they don't really see the perception in that. A lot of people eat at fine dining restaurants. And when you sit down at a fine dining restaurant, you're not asking, is this organic?
And the next part of it was having a more limited menu. A lot of times, if we have really large menus, it can seem intimidating to people, especially if everything on the menu is vegan. And they're like, I don't know what to do with all this food.
And the last was the convenience factor. I want it to be on your way home from work, and I wanted people to pass by and have that quick decision and say, I could just stop and quickly and get a smoothie or a smoothie bowl. And it'd be so much better for me than continuing down to McDonald's. And so that's why we're downtown. We're right next to Viva.
And the last part of this was that just like I got my sister to eat all these meals, just because they looked beautiful, we started posting a lot on social media. And people didn't know that we were vegan. We still have customers, who come in multiple times a week, and it might take them three, four, or five times until they ask for something. We say, oh, we're a plant-based restaurant. We actually don't carry half and half or whatever it is.
And that was something that really worked well for us was not branding as vegan. And we've seen a lot of success through our social media page as well. We have over 2,000 followers. And we have the problem right now where if we post something, people order it immediately online, or they'll come in and get it. And we have to take the picture away because people come back, even a few days later, and say, can I get this thing? We're like, we sold out that day.
And so this is a picture of some of our food and our space. It's been called "industrial jungle chic." So take that as you will. But it's a very friendly, convenient location downtown, and our food is definitely based on presentation.
And one thing that is really exciting is we don't put pictures of our food on our menu. And so when people order a plate of vegetables and it comes out looking like this, people all the time are saying, wow, this looks so good. I never would have stopped in here, but I'm really glad that I did.
And so so far, we found that this model works really well. We've hit our break-even pretty much every day, with a few exceptions due to weather about two weeks in. And we also really love our model because we don't have any hoods. So we've been asked to go into a few really tall buildings in Syracuse and fit into a lot of places that might be more difficult for a traditional restaurant to fit into that does require that ventilation. And so we're positioned really well to be expanding in the future.
PELIN THOROGOOD: Thanks for that. Thanks for that. That was awesome. I'm having lunch there today.
Hi, guys. I am Pelin Thorogood, and I'm a triple-Cornellian bachelor's in operations research, master's in engineering, and an MBA-- all from here. And I still come back once or twice a year.
I was actually here in November teaching in Dr. Rao's class as a guest lecturer and also Stephen gal's class. So I love being back and just interacting with all of you guys. So it's such a pleasure to be here.
I also have been a serial tech entrepreneur and CEO for over 20 years. I look at being an entrepreneur as not creating companies because it's exciting, and it's fun, which they both are. But really it's about driving change in the world. And then my companies have from website story, which was the very first web ethics company that changed how we do online marketing to Anametrics that actually brought together many different channels of customer data.
So large companies, like Chrysler or Viacom, could look at social media data, web data, data from call centers to be able to understand how they can better engage with customers. In many ways, we have changed marketing by leveraging marketing technology. So it has been a fun ride, and I've enjoyed driving that kind of change because I really enjoyed how I've run my companies.
But after my last exit, I sold Anametrics to a larger Silicon Valley company. And also coupled with some massive health issues in my family, which I won't go into, I took some time off to really reflect on not just how I do things but why I do things. And thought about what really makes me happy, what really drives me, why do I want to get up excited in the morning? Because I realized after 20 years of doing what other people thought was a very successful career, I wasn't feeling that excited, and you have to be true to yourself. So after much reflection and many conversations that took over a year, which I know many of you guys are too young.
So maybe you don't want to do this, but I absolutely reflect people have some of the blank space to think, to reflect. I think most of us jump from career to career, company to company way too fast by just having checkmarks versus really thinking about why we're going to go there. I was fortunate enough to have the experience, and I realized regardless of 20 plus years in tech, that's not what I wanted to do anymore. I cared about wellness. I cared about nutrition.
I really wanted to make a difference in how people live and really focus on their health. And like I said, my family's health issues absolutely contributed to that experience. And then they saw many coincidental meetings, which I just believe because my intent was out there, those meetings just happened.
With three other friends and colleagues, I co-founded two different companies. Both of them are at the intersection of health, wellness, and hospitality, interestingly enough. And I think you can only connect the dots backwards. I don't know that I was really going after hospitality side.
Even as an engineer, my heart was always in the hotel school-- at least part of the time. So we moved into the world of CBD-- cannabidiol-- a compound that is a non-psychotic part of cannabis-- something I had not even heard about two years ago. So it's kind of fun to jump into something you don't even know about. On that note, I did bring in some people who really know about it. And we created both as a C corp, as well as a nonprofit.
So just before I go into those two companies, just to give you an idea, CBD is a compound that the WHO-- the World Health Organization-- just published a massive report on and states that it is good for epilepsy in humans and animals. It has great potential. Preliminary evidence shows that it can be very good for cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's. So the number of diseases that it has the potential to treat-- according to the WHO-- is massive.
There's obviously more research needed, which is where my nonprofit is going to come into play here, but it is huge, which, of course, means the market is exploding. I mean, it's about 60% [INAUDIBLE] right now just for CBT. I don't mean marijuana and cannabis. Just for CBD, the consumer sales are about to be surpassing $2 billion in just a couple of years. So crazy hot market, which also means not only people with good intentions are getting into it.
There's a whole lot of people who want to really take advantage of the latest trend, and I get that. I was in tech. I was in software. I was in social media. So I know what gold rush means in this new world. So to me, doing things the right way is very, very important, which is why-- actually, I'm going to this one first. That's why we really created our non-profit. We knew that there is a lot of potential for CBD to treat all these different diseases, according to the NIH research and according to WHO. But there's also so many gaps in research because of how federal regulation, because of how people have done research so far.
So we've created a foundation with the help of one of my partners, who has the philanthropic funds to be able to actually enable this, because I know not everybody can do what we're doing because we're giving millions of dollars away to research. But we wanted to change how that research is done. And you're looking at an engineer who clearly has no medical background.
So how do you run something that's done research? This is that when my entrepreneurial mind and my CEO background came into place. I brought in some of the top MDs and researchers from around the country who wanted to do this. But researchers do research. They don't run companies.
They don't get together to make these things happen. A lot of them are loners or maybe work in their laps. So by bringing people together, we brought together a bunch of like-minded people who didn't want to just do clinical work to get one more study to see if it works some of the time.
But with my OR background, whenever I see statistics that says it's really good 50% of the time. I'm like, great, well, am I in that 50, or am I in the other 50 is not really helping me out here. So given where medicine is going today with genetic information so that we can have much more a personalized approach, given we have incredible imaging technology about what may be going in our individual bodies, we wanted to bring in a multi-disciplinary approach.
And so given we have the money and we have this amazing expertise with the doctors, we started talking to universities who wanted to do this kind of research and said, great, you want to focus on this, but we wanted you to do it this way. Don't just do this and then wait four years to see if there is some genetic component. Do things at the same time.
I studied the same cohort of patients across all these different, areas and they had never done it before. They have felt uncomfortable, but the more we talked about them, they realized there was a lot of merit to it. So pre-announcement, the press releases are going out next week, but we just funded UCSD, University of California San Diego, $5 million to do autism research with CBD, which is the very first of its kind research and the largest private grant for something like this.
So that's starting off, and we're so delighted this is multi-disciplinary. It is genetic. It's imaging. It's neuroscience to understand how the brain may be different in these kids with autism and how they may react differently to CBD-- very exciting.
There's also a lot of misconceptions about this so part of our mission's, of course, to do the education to the public and to health care providers so that the doctors really understand the do's and don'ts of this, and the public understands what it might be good for. And last but not least, our objective is, of course, to do the right advocacy at the state and federal level so that we can have safe and legal access to those people in need. Said ambitious goal but I think we have the right people. And it's really exciting to be at that place where we can really drive a difference. Still going back-- I'm sorry.
One of the things I believe in as an entrepreneur is you can't just preach. You have to live and breathe while you're preaching. So if we said there are a lot of not so good products out there-- beware-- well, then we have to also make sure that there was the kind of product that we would want to take ourselves.
So we also-- the same group-- created Mana Artisan Botanics, a Hawaii-based CBD infusions company, leveraging our lot of amazing botanicals directly farm to table from many small growers in Hawaii. So we have a beautiful product that is certified organic. All the products are in it.
It's handcrafted literally in small batches in Kona. We work with many small farmers across the islands and bring their products. We only work with people who practice regenerate agriculture and organic methods. So what we're doing is promoting that behavior by buying from them.
As our company does better, we'll need more product from them. And hopefully, more people will realize to sell to Mana, we have to do it this way. So you drive change by driving demand for that kind of change and to really highlight how that works. So that's what we started doing.
And the Mana products, as you can see in this image, we have macadamia nut, oil infusions, coconut oil infusions, amazing Hawaiian rare honey infused with hemp, herbal sells, et cetera. So many of them can be just taken on their own, but here's the hotel hospitality connection. I don't know how many of you guys maybe put like ginseng, [INAUDIBLE], or something else into maybe your drink like a power shot.
A lot of people said, you know what? Your product tastes great, and it also is so good for me. Why don't I start adding it into my meals? So several restaurants started purchasing our products, not just sell the bottles only but to integrate it into the meal, whether it's putting it into a [INAUDIBLE], putting into like a smoothie, or a farmer creatively baking with it. And actually, more of a vegan type of baking like in your Vitamix so that you don't really heat things because obviously, heating changes the chemical structure or being able to create an oil to like the turmeric one is amazing.
You can just drizzle like a lentil soup, and it adds the CBD. It has a great taste to it, and you're still having a wonderful lentil soup with it. So all of a sudden, instead of just selling dietary supplements and bottles, we are in restaurants and integrating with hospitality-- super fun.
Well, then commend the spas. They're saying, well, massage is about relaxation. CBD has-- again, according to the WHO.
I always have to state that because it's not my personal opinion only-- has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety elements in it. So when you rub it, it really takes away pain because it's reducing the inflammation. So it's being infused into massage oils and being incorporated into the massage experience at spas.
So once again, we're no longer just on a big Wegmans shelf, which we can be, and it's just a hemp-based product with below the legal limit of THC in it. You can sell it anywhere. But we're actually being incorporated into hotels, spas, restaurants. And we're basically getting into people's lives from multiple angles, which was, of course, our objective because it has so many great potentials.
Then you want to make sure that people have many options in taking it. We are C corp, but we are a C corp with very much of a B corp mindset. We're extremely transparent. We do full testing of our products and actually publish it. So people know what's in it.
Many of the products out there we know have things that they shouldn't have, whether it's pesticides or heavy metals and things like that. So we really wanted-- once again, to show how things are done to the world. So it's been a very exciting journey-- less than 10 months old for both organizations. Holistic it's going to literally go live next week with the two press releases-- one from UCSD and one from University of Utah-- another resource we just funded. Those are both going live next week, along with the website.
I'm a believer in not talking about things before you've really done it. And now that research has actually started, we are doing it. And the website is going to follow it. So the marketing follows not leads, and I think that's the right way to do it in this case because we are living and breathing examples of how we want to change the world and do it the right way with the good intent. So it's been a fun journey. I never thought two years ago, this is where I'd be, but I'm so delighted.
SPEAKER: Great, thanks, Pelin. So just picking up on that, I think what's kind of interesting-- we talked about this a little bit last night is that just very recently, there was an announcement that the FDA approved a version of this for epilepsy, and I was curious about-- you're obviously, very oriented as a social entrepreneur and somebody to do the research. How do you think you can influence public policy to have this available for-- and not just kind of a prescription-based type thing?
So in general, I'm happy that the FDA approved a version of this from a pharma. I'm also somewhat saddened that it is from a pharma because it's just going to make the prices go artificially higher, et cetera. So that's a very long conversation that I'm not going to get into. But in terms of the advocacy side, the reason we are doing the research is because I believe in evidence-based policy. So the more we can show that it is working, not just 30% of the time but for these people with these genes with these types of receptors, but not for these people because that have a mutated enzyme in the how it takes CBD, then we can actually show that it is actually very effective to a specific population and leverage that information in driving policy.
In putting together my board, I didn't just get some great MDs and researchers. I also got two incredible public policy people from DC because once again, I'm a believer in knowing what I don't know. I don't know public policy, but I know these guys do. And we share a mission.
So between the amazing researchers and amazing policy people, and the evidence that we're going to be able to show from top schools, like UCSD, University of Utah. We might be working with Columbia. I would love to be able to work with Cornell. I just haven't found anyone in it that's doing this research yet. But if anyone knows about it, send them over.
We want to show that it works for autism. It works for Alzheimer's. It may actually help cancer. University of Pennsylvania has shown in vitro examples of how CBD has stopped the growth of breast cancer cells.
I mean, this is incredible. There's so much potential. We have to see what works for, how it works, so that we can leverage that data to change policy.
SPEAKER: So I conferred that we only have nine minutes. So I was going to first look at Nikki, but why don't we just stop and see if there's anybody who wants to throw a question out there to the group suddenly. Anybody? [INAUDIBLE] Yes?
AUDIENCE: Yes, so I was wondering if this product or if you guys know if this product increases blood cannabinoid that would be tested for driving?
PELIN THOROGOOD: So I think you mean at THC levels in your blood so this which is why they do a big distance at this product has less than 0.3% THC, which is the legal limit. That's why we can sell it as a Wegmans. I mean, the only way you can sell hemp products so that they have less than 0.3% THC, and it does.
AUDIENCE: OK, so those blood tests don't necessarily test for other cannabinoids it's just THC, THCA?
PELIN THOROGOOD: The primary thing that's being tested for is THC given it makes you high. CBD does not. So I mean, if you tested for CBD, you'd find it, but CBD does not impair you in any way.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] industry or did you go [INAUDIBLE] how important is that to the fact [INAUDIBLE]
PELIN THOROGOOD: So in this case, I brought in people-- I told you I didn't even know how to spell CBD, even those three letters. So I brought in people who actually knew the agriculture side and the actual chemistry, since I didn't know it, even though I saw the benefits. And I brought in I'd say an angel-- even though it's a partner, in this case. It's not just an investor-- who had personally benefited for his kids' cerebral palsy, and he is a philanthropist with a big family fund.
So we're able to get the funds from him because he had personally benefited greatly and brought in the know how. They both trusted me. They both jumped into a four-person partnership, without ever meeting each other. So that was pretty crazy that it happens. Once again, it's like thank you.
But in terms of VCs, I think we've heard so many times-- even from the Wayfair guys yesterday-- do bootstrap, get money from friends and family, or angels before going to VCS because VCS will change the dynamics of your company. I think they're great. I'm so glad they exist.
But you don't want to give up control before you even start it. So you want to make sure you build something that you know what you're doing. You've had a few failings because it will happen that you've gotten through yourself without giving up yet another third of your company before bringing VC money.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] So Jackie, so a lot of you may not know-- sorry, if you didn't hear that. A lot of you may not know, but one of the pioneers of research around plant-based eating is an Emeritus faculty member here, Colin Campbell, who did work on a book called The China Study. But and it's kind of his mission to continue to see what he can do about these things, and he speaks all over the country. But I'm just kind of curious.
So Jackie, you've got a unique approach in trying to sort of break down the barriers to this. But what have you found has been most effective even in just talking to other people about all of this to get people to at least be open to trying it?
JACQUELINE FALKENBERG: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of the knowledge is there. People know that they should be eating more plants. They know that they should be eating less processed foods.
Bun-I think the big difference comes in the labeling of it. As I was talking about before, I think that if you show people even just brownies and they're labeled as gluten free brownies or vegan brownies, people are like, eww. Not as good. I'm not going to have that.
And so for us, we just don't put those labels up there. And people-- they just see the great product. Or they maybe hear about it from their friends, and then they're excited to try it.
And then we might tell them, by the way, it's vegan or by the way, it's gluten-free. And that for us, was the way that we were able to be successful in getting people to eat those vegetables, rather than being like, just say you know, these are all great local veggies that you're eating on a plate. That doesn't sound as appealing.
SPEAKER: If there's anybody who's out there madly wanting to ask a question, I just wanted to flip it another way, which is kind of interesting. Alex did a project that we helped to give seed funding for looking at-- because it's a different issue-- but looking at calorie counts on actual fine dining type establishments and seeing how people's behavior changed. So Alex, you might want to comment on that a little bit.
ALEX SUSSKIND: So thank you for the funding by the way to do the project. And we actually just wrapped it up.
SPEAKER: Not like Pelin. We wish we had more funding like she did.
ALEX SUSSKIND: Well, you were my angel investor. So thank you. So what we wanted to do-- and I worked with John Cauley, who's an economist over in HUMEC. And he's interested in obesity and health policy surrounding that. So nutritional information in restaurants was something he was interested in.
And so what we did is we basically ran some experiments in our student-run restaurant establishment and then in Taverna Banfi. I'm sure you've all in Taverna Banfi. Well, during dinner, they don't have the buffet. So we're able to do that.
And what we did is we created a set of menus that had the calorie counts. So when they got the menus-- the beverage menus, the dessert menu, the main menu-- it had all the calorie information. And we created two groups-- a treatment group.
When they sat down at the table, they the whole table got all of the menus with all the calorie information. The control group didn't get any information at all. And we had these two restaurants establishment, which is a student-run restaurant, we found some interesting things there.
Ultimately, students-- and again, these are 18 to 22-year-olds for the most part. There are a few older folks that go to the restaurant, but it's mostly between 18 and 22-year-olds. And what they did when they had nutritional information was they basically traded appetizer calories for alcohol.
So they order fewer appetizers when they had the information and more alcohol. Some of the appetizers had 600 calories. A beer has 140 calories. So they were actually using that information to do that. Plus they're students.
And so we were like, all right, well, tell me something I don't know. Students like to drink. OK, so that's why we moved over to Taverna Banfi, where the average age is much older, and we couldn't test this with minors. So it was only 18-year-olds through-- I think the oldest person we surveyed was 80 years old.
And so what we found when we combined the two samples with the students and with-- for lack of a better term-- regular people, what we found is that the calorie information in all of the categories-- every single one-- appetizers, beverages, desserts-- when people had calorie information, they ordered fewer calories-- plain and simple. And so that was really, really cool to be able to demonstrate that. And again, it goes back to what I said earlier about information. Information is power.
When you have information, you can make decisions that are better for you. And many of us go out to dinner. And we say, well, this is a special occasion. I'm not going to worry about calories today.
But many of us think about it all the time. And so just having the information and knowing now that it works can help us inform policy. I know you were talking about policy and the importance of policy. Well, we have a law on the books that actually has not been implemented yet.
Maybe we need this in all restaurants. Maybe every time that you're going to buy something that you're going to eat, you need to know what's in it and how many calories it is. And we also had information on nutrients and other stuff, which is part of the larger study, which we haven't really gotten into yet. But the calorie part of it basically was pretty telling.
So anyway, that was kind of what we did for it. Well, you can see there are two kind of different approaches. I think Jackie has a really interesting sort of stealth approach to kind of getting people to try different things. And Alex is kind of looking at a larger issue of just generally, the obesity crisis and how we can kind of deal with that. And Pelin is trying to get us all to get healthier, and to document and change policy, which is all really exciting stuff.
So we're officially out of time. So I just want to thank all the panelists, and I think we'll all be up here for a while if anybody wants to speak later So thank you so much.
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Three panelists shared their experiences and perspectives on the intersection of health, hospitality, and design with a focus on growth opportunities for entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs in the fields of food and nutrition, consumer awareness, marketing, and the impact on health and wellness.
Panelists: Jacky Falkenberg, SHA '17, owner, Nikki Green Restaurant, Ithaca, NY; Alex Susskind, associate director, Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures, and associate professor, Cornell School of Hotel Administration; and Pelin Thorogood, ’90, MEng ’91, MBA ’94, co-founder, Mana Botanics, and co-founder and president of Wholistic Research and Education Foundation. The panel discussion was moderated by Brooke Hollis, MBA '78, associate director, Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures, and associate director, Sloan Program in Health Administration.