Episode 75
October 12, 2021

Making a Splash in Alt-Protein

with Jacek Prus is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kuleana

About this episode

Jacek Prus is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kuleana. Based in San Francisco, Kuleana is a food technology company with a mission to recreate nutrient-rich, tasty, and sustainable seafood from plants starting with raw tuna. In this episode, Jacek shares with us his journey from growing up in Houston, Texas, with aspirations to become an astronaut, to studying entrepreneurship at Acton, to working at a plant-based incubator in Berlin, to starting Kuleana after watching the Earthlings documentary. He talks with us about the seasonality of fundraising and what it was like to go through a thousand iterations and tastings of raw tuna before landing on the perfect one.

This episode is sponsored by

In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • Why he became passionate about alternative protein and animal rights while in college 
  • How his time at Acton School of Business helped him learn a lot of what he needed to know about entrepreneurship and how he started an internship with ProVeg Incubator in Berlin, Germany
  • What led to the idea of a seafood alternative, specifically raw tuna substitute, and what the iteration process was like at the beginning 
  • What fundraising has been like for Jacek and his team, and what they have learned throughout the process
  • Why Jacek believes that making alternative proteins is not just about making a product “like” something, but actually better than that something and why the possibilities are more exciting that way
  • What strategies he has found helpful when hiring and ways he has been intentional about building a solid team at Kuleana
  • What he learned from hard times, how he has overcome them, and why his passion for the mission continues to drive him through any pain and struggle
  • What advice he has for other Founders and what is next and exciting for Kuleana

To Find Out More:



“Going for raw tuna, I was like, ok, we'll have to actually innovate on the process to create products, and I thought that was just really, really exciting for me.”

“Investing, in a very large sense, is a game of momentum.”

“We can be something similar to, but also better than a product.”

“It's a little bit of this fun game in food like innovating and making things better than, and at the same time, people like somewhat of familiarity with food. And I think that's what a lot of companies and Founders are trying to reconcile in the alternative protein space is how do you make it familiar, but you want to make it better?”

“When it comes to hiring, it should kind of take a while. And if it's not, then maybe draw that process out just because obviously those are the people who really build that company. You only do so much. You do a lot as a founder, but it's really that initial group of people who multiply that impact.”

“When people believe in it, they just work harder. They stick through the pain. So try to unravel that and identify whether somebody really cares about that mission”

“It felt like something that needs to be done, and then it becomes a lot less about you. That's really, really cool because your pain then matters less. And when your pain matters less, you become more pain tolerant.”

“If you look at professional athletes they have coaches, multiple coaches, right? It's like, why aren't professional business people having coaches? We should all have them.”

“The reality is you start to recognize that if you don't prioritize your sleep and those other things, your work quality just drops tremendously and you make more mistakes.”

“Some of the best advice I ever heard was, "Just do what excites you.’"

“Sometimes as an entrepreneur, we feel like we have to invent everything, but it's a lot of times the best things are just small improvements and small iterations, or merging of multiple ideas and not feeling bad about that. But I think copy and paste is really underrated.”

Read the transcript

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