David Israel approaches team building in the same way he seeks out new business opportunities: through a forward-leaning, progressive lens. From innovating vegan cheese with GOOD PLANeT Foods to championing young generations to assume leadership roles, Israel is truly leading by example.
We caught up with the founder and CEO to learn more about innovations within the plant-based food category, leadership advice, and more.
ForceBrands: You’re an experienced entrepreneur in food and beverage. Where did the idea for GOOD PLANet Foods come from?
David Israel: After being in the snack category, I really wanted to make difference in the ‘better for you’ category, especially as it relates to plant-friendly products. I heard a lot of negative feedback from friends and family about vegan cheese, which encouraged me to investigate. It seemed like an easy task to improve what was currently on the market, which, at the time, was late 2017. As I got closer to launch in mid-2018, I knew who our consumer was and what they cared about. They wanted to address climate change and have a great alternative to dairy.
FB: Where did you see the opportunity in the plant-based cheese category?
DI: The melting ability and overall taste just weren’t there in the early vegan cheeses, so we focused on those qualities and created a delicious alternative with a real cheese-like texture and taste.
FB: As a leader, how have you built your company’s culture?
DI: I believe in leading by example. I like to have partners and not lead top-down.
Titles don’t mean anything if you are not successful as a team. I want everyone to have fun and know they are valued.
FB: When it comes to hiring, what qualities do you look for in prospective candidates?
DI: Good communication skills, honesty, and the desire to collaborate and win.
FB: What skills are most valuable for pursuing a successful career in today’s dynamic consumer products industry?
DI: The ability to build partnerships with the buyers, transparency, thinking outside the box, and always doing the right thing.
FB: What do today’s consumer companies get wrong about hiring?
DI: Thinking that old school is the only way.
FB: What do they get right?
DI: Giving the younger generation the opportunity to play a high-level role and change the way things are done for the better.
FB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
DI: People are your biggest asset or liability.
Build a collaborative and transparent team.
FB: What’s next in the plant-based food category?
DI: Innovation and improvements to match the real thing.
FB: Where do you see the potential for the most growth?
DI: Connecting with the masses who wish to do better for the planet, and not trying to convert them but getting them to eat a more climate-balanced and ‘PLANeT-friendly’ diet. We are focused on growing the segment by bringing the joy of cheese to more consumers.
FB: If you could go back and change one thing about the way you’ve built GOOD PLANeT Foods, what would it be?
DI: I really like where we are today, so I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel very fortunate and have a truly amazing team. Change one thing and you change everything.
FB: Any exciting product innovations you could share with us?
DI: Our new snackable wedges and real smoked wheels are amazing. People say that they wouldn’t know that they weren’t real cheese. We’re committed to growing the plant-based cheese segment so you will see even more game-changing innovations coming soon.
Interested in learning more about the innovative food industry? Explore our FoodForce practice.