Episode 156
May 2, 2023

From Forbes to Food

with Courtney Boyd Myers, Founder and CEO of AKUA

About this episode

Today, Lee is joined by the Founder and CEO of AKUA, Courtney Boyd Myers. Courtney’s career path has seen three separate tracks which collided in the form of the sustainable food brand, AKUA. Having grown up at the seaside in Connecticut, she has a deep love and appreciation for the ocean which, years later, manifested in her delicious, nutritious kelp burgers with numerous health and environmental benefits. In this episode, Courtney shares her entrepreneurship journey and recounts the pivotal moment when her passion and varied experience met. Tune in to learn about AKUA’s genesis and development, from the research process and abandoned products to fundraising and exciting collaborations!

This episode is sponsored by

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  • AWESOME CX by Transcom provides high touch, personalized customer experience services to consumer brands of any size! Email Lee at lee@stairwaytoceo.com to learn more about their award-winning services and Awesome Coffee Chats.

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • [01:27] An introduction to Courtney Boyd Myers, Founder and CEO of AKUA.
  • [02:47] Courtney’s idyllic childhood growing up at the ocean in Connecticut, her unfulfilling education experience, and her varied career history.
  • [12:25] The three phases of her career prior to launching AKUA, and what she learned from each venture.
  • [16:34] Courtney’s journey to becoming a founder: the pivotal moment her passion and experience collided to create AKUA.
  • [19:19] What makes kelp such an interesting future food in the context of climate change, and why Courtney landed on burgers as a format.
  • [26:25] The genesis and development of AKUA, from the research process and abandoned products to fundraising and collaborations.
  • [35:48] Courtney shares crowdfunding and community-building resources and tips.
  • [39:19] The most unexpected challenges of her entrepreneurship journey and what she would have done differently with the experience she has today.
  • [43:47] How she’s grown personally and professionally, as a leader.
  • [46:12] Courtney shares a final piece of advice for entrepreneurs and fills us in on what’s next for AKUA!

To Find Out More:

AKUA

Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers on LinkedIn

Courtney Boyd Myers on Twitter

Forbes

General Assembly

‘How to Rock a Republic Campaign’

Republic

Wefunder

Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

Quotes:

“I’ve gone from journalism to tech startups to food, which I don’t necessarily think was as easy to do in our parents’ generation and I think, for many reasons, it’s a lot easier to do now.” —[0:09:30]

“I had three separate career tracks prior to starting AKUA.” — [0:12:42]

“I was a journalist for a long time and I had so much fun interviewing entrepreneurs and hearing their stories. That is where I got the exposure to entrepreneurship.” — [0:12:51]

“Eventually I got the itch. I needed to know what it was like working for a startup, even if it meant leaving my career in journalism.” — [0:13:57]

“A lot of times, as founders, we end up telling all the best parts about being a founder, and it’s only recently that being vulnerable as a founder has been seen as okay. So I heard a lot of the highlights reels, especially as a journalist.” — [0:16:55]

“Because the kelp goes through photosynthesis, it’s sucking Co2 out of the water as it grows its body mass. So it’s really helpful in the context of climate change in combatting acidification.” — [0:19:19] 

“If you think about growing food, most of the things you and I have on a daily basis require a lot of fresh water and dry land, and kelp requires neither. So it’s a really interesting future food in the context of climate change.” — [0:19:33]

“I wanted to figure out a way to get more people eating more kelp for so many reasons: health, environment, and supporting our farmers.” — [0:20:22]

“I don’t think in-person tastings are helpful … If the founder’s in the room, throw out the results.” — [0:31:48]

“We’re turning to equity crowdfunding because I think it’s going to be not only helpful for bringing in money, but also really helpful from a marketing perspective.” — [0:35:34]

“I think that age-old ‘The dinner table’s the greatest piece of connective technology’ type of idea is something that really can’t be overdone, especially post-COVID.” — [0:37:58]

Read the transcript

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