Founder of Something Better Foods
Established: 2017 | Number of employees: 10
Website: somethingbetterfoods.com | Instagram: @betterchew
“Something Better Foods offers a suite of plant-based proteins sold under the brand name ‘Better Chew.’ We mimic America’s most popular comfort and ethnic foods, including beef, chicken, and seafood substitutes. Our mission is to democratize the access to plant-based food for all people, while ‘changing lives for the better, one chew at a time.’”
Why did you decide to start Something Better Foods?
I was born in the South, adopted at birth with the last name Chew. Food was our culture, our laughter, our home—all my best memories came from that perspective. But in my family, there was a lot of premature disease and death due to lifestyle. I went vegan in 2001, at that point, just seeking to improve my lifestyle. But I still wanted to experience the foods I grew up on—fried chicken, beef, mac and cheese—so I started curating vegan recipes and eventually landed on plant-based protein.
In 2007, I developed my first proprietary process, utilizing different grains and beans. That led me to a career in the restaurant industry for 10 years. I became a chef, started my first restaurant in 2008, and have had three restaurants since then. I came to Oakland in 2014 and started a restaurant featuring my plant-based protein. But then I started Better Foods Inc. in 2017, moving into the manufacturing space with the intention of democratizing access to plant-based foods.
For me, manufacturing has become about being a Black-owned manufacturing company—which is virtually nonexistent—that adds value to a community at the intersection of food justice and entrepreneurship.
What has been your most impactful interaction with ICA, and why?
Community is everything—especially for minority businesses, because you need to be supported by people who understand the challenges that you face. And it’s not just money—it’s ideas, it’s listening, it’s connections.
ICA was one of those first community catalysts for us. We got connected to funding as well as advisors who helped us get more funding. It just snowballs. When you’re a part of the community, it helps you build assets, solutions, knowledge, information, and access. It’s all interconnected. That’s what I love about the Bay Area. And now I’m in a place where I can reciprocate what I’ve received.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
It’s really important to understand your “why” and your purpose. That’s the piece that will drive you to—it’s your North Star. Never forget that as you continue to build and grow and scale.
My other big piece of advice is to build a tribe that’s going to help accomplish your mission in the most strategic way possible. When a vision for a community becomes collective, it becomes so much more impactful.