Innovate or invent? Let's ask an entrepreneur and a whale 🐋

Welcome to "Nouveau Monde", sort of a "Nouveau Genre" newsletter to better understand how to make the world better through the lens of retail. This is #7

Hi there and welcome to Nouveau Monde ! In this newsletter, Phil and Anthony deep dive in retailers and startups innovations that will help make the world better !

A little background for you dear audience there : Phil and Anthony met in 2016 while they were both working for a company dedicated to help retail businesses innovate. They took different directions but could not stand not having any project together, they are still interested in these type of topics and they love to share some stories about it.

Every week, they go deep on a some specific topics, Phil with its lens of no BS and Anthony (the geek guy in the gang) will talk about how it impacts climate change. Please subscribe to get fresh news on your inbox !

This week, we innovate a bit with an interview of a maker of the positive impact movement. Tell us what you think and if you want to see more of this here !

A conversation with Baptiste from Kuri

by Anthony

Hi Baptiste, glad to have you here ! 

Hi Anthony & Nouveau Monde! It's a pleasure and an honor to be here.

Can you tell us a bit about you and Kuri ?

Sure. I'm Baptiste, born and raised in France. A few years ago, after leaving Paris and my job as a product manager, my cofounders and I wanted to tackle one of the biggest frustrations in our everyday life: figuring out what to eat next. Meal-kits were sort of addressing this frustration, but it seemed sub-optimal. Specifically, the lack of personalization and the relatively high price per portion compared to grocery price were a turn off.

In the meantime, I was trying to "plantify" my meals, and reduce my meat consumption. I became more curious about the environmental impact of our eating habits, and adopting a plant-based diet in early 2020 was the next logical step for me.

So we started building Kuri, a cooking app that would help you figure out your next meals in a jiffy while cutting your food emissions in half, effortlessly. Essentially, Kuri is a personalized cooking app: it suggests meals based on your tastes, cooking level, lifestyle and more. But Kuri also has a bias towards plants, and will always try to nudge you towards meals that are in season around you.

Ultimately, we're building an app to put your climate-friendly diet on autopilot.

What are the main challenges regarding food nowadays ?

The number one challenge that comes to mind, the mother-of-all issues in the food realm, is education. There are many deeply rooted misconceptions in our food education, and these misconceptions stand in the way of the adoption of a more sustainable diet, which we both know is key to curb climate change. Lobbies (i.e. meat, dairy, fishing) have been having a field day perpetrating these beliefs, and it's going to be hard to debunk these myths. 

It seems to me though that popular documentaries such as the newly released Seaspiracy, and Cowspiracy before that, are having a growing influence on younger generations, so there's hope. With these documentaries, people start asking questions. Some may reject responsibility onto companies, one effective way to deflect their own responsibility and delay individual action! But some others, luckily, do want to take action by shifting their diet and reducing their "foodprint". More often than not, people think that because they're gonna cut down on meat/animal products, there's going to be something missing in their life. They feel like they're losing something that will not be replaced, that it is a net loss. In my experience, removing animal products (the "loss") from my diet has been 10x compensated by the discovery of a ton of new flavors, new cuisines and ingredients.

How do you want to tackle these challenges ?

Making the climate-friendly option the default, and making it as convenient and tasty as possible, is how I believe we should tackle this challenge (pushing plant-rich diets). 

Guilt-tripping and proselytizing won't work. Labels that showcase sort of an eco-score are helpful, but convenience, taste and simplicity are paramount.

This is why the value proposition of Kuri isn't "we're helping you decarbonize your diet", but rather "we help you figure out your next meals". In the meantime of course, we nudge users towards low-carbon meals that we know they will love, because we know how important taste is, and how good it feels when you cook something new and everyone loves it. 

Kuri introduces you to a brand new set of meals that fit your lifestyle & cooking experience, and each new discovery is a step towards a plant-rich diet.

When was the last time you cooked something new, and loved it? How did that make you feel? We tend to underestimate the value of this experience.

Any connections with food retailers now or in the future ?

We're working on that, indeed. Whether it's suggesting cool plant-based alternatives we genuinely love through new recipes in the app, or working with grocers to integrate grocery delivery straight into Kuri, we are indeed going to be working with food retailers very soon. It's been part of our vision since the very beginning, and we see it as an important step to make Kuri as convenient and delightful as possible.

We'd also be very excited to work with "ugly produce" subscription companies such as Imperfect Foods. Since we introduced our "Fridge" feature (basically, it allows you to tell Kuri what's in your fridge, track ingredient freshness, and find recipes accordingly to avoid food waste), a lot of our users add what they just brought back from the farmers market, and Kuri helps them make the best out of it. I think Kuri can be super helpful to customers of such subscriptions, by helping them figure out what to cook with these beautiful "ugly" ingredients.

Anything to add ?

A question we're often asked: is Kuri available on Android? The answer is "not for now, but probably next year"🙏.

You can get in touch with Baptiste on twitter @Bptstmlgt or on LinkedIn to have more information, and find Kuri on its website or on the App Store and if you want to see recipes by yourselves, take a look at their instagram !

A post shared by @cookwithkuri

When sustainability is mixed with biomimicry

by Phil

Do you know what biomimicry is? Biomimicry (or biomimetics) is the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. I’ve always thought it was the best existing innovation process ever. Because nature is the highest inventor on earth. Not human beings, way to pretentious about their capacity to disrupt the world. Time will give us some lessons. It already started.

Ifremer (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) is an oceanographic institution in France. The organization joined efforts with a start-up called Blue Fins to invent "whale fins" that reduces the energy consumption of large ships from 20 up to 30% according to their first estimations.

Tankers, container ships, cruise ships are increasingly equipping themselves with new attributes to limit their fuel consumption. But this new coming solution should appear on the market by 2023 could accelerate innovation on this matter. Placed at the rear of the ships, a hydrofoil attached to a large articulated arm is animated by the waves. The greater this movement, the more energy it generates for the ship to move forward. To help propel the ship, our system reproduces and combines two physical phenomena: the foils are like submerged airplane wings that support the ship and reduce the friction of the boat's hull on the water. Their movement, generated by the swell, moves the ship forward a bit like the tail of a whale.

This innovative system has two advantages: it is retractable and can be taken out of the water if the swell conditions are not optimal (absence or too many waves). Installed at the rear of the ship, it can also supplement the energy savings that a kite wing or sails located on the deck would offer without presenting any risk to the ship.

Reducing the consumption of heavy fuel oil in the maritime transport sector, the most polluting fuel in the world, is a current challenge. According to a study by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on greenhouse gases (GHG), maritime transport emissions, which are currently responsible for 2.5% to 3% of global GHG emissions, could, in a business-as-usual scenario, increase by 50-250% by 2050.

More than time to bring some inventions around. Just look at what nature is doing, it might help.

Bonus tracks

2 bonus tracks this week, you deserve it :-)