David Janow is arch controlling of Axiom Foods, a Los Angeles start-up that entered the rice protein bazaar aback it was beheld alone as an additive of beastly feed. Now, he has cornered the $150-million bazaar for the another protein as it accouterment from the sports-supplement alley against a all-over additive of articles on about every grocery abundance shelf.
Janow, 48, aboriginal advised attitude and analysis as an undergraduate, switched to all-embracing business and finance, got an MBA, afresh a law degree, and landed at blue-blood law firms on Wall Street.
He knew anon abundant it was the amiss address.
“Not until you become a lawyer, alive for a law firm, do you absolutely adjudge that you appetite to assignment for yourself,” he said. “When you’re alive 90 hours a week, it’s not abundant fun. You accomplish a lot of money, but you don’t accept time to absorb it. Afresh you go abroad for two weeks on absurd vacations because you accept so abundant money saved, but you alarming advancing back.”
From law to dog food
By 2002, Janow had ditched his acknowledged career to assignment alongside his father, who ran a article brokering business, sourcing cooler accommodation such as ascorbic acerbic and caffeine. He additionally eyed his father-in-law’s band of work, pet aliment stores.
Somebody has to advertise accommodation to pet aliment companies, he thought. So Janow cold-called two above pet aliment companies to ask what they bare most. Their acknowledgment may as able-bodied accept been “vibranium” to him. They basic rice protein. Lots of it.
“I had no abstraction what it was at the time,” Janow said. “It wasn’t alike on Wikipedia.”
As it turns out, rice protein was advised little added than an automated decay in Asia — a abundantly unmarketable byproduct of authoritative monosodium glutamate.
Janow put out some aerial and anon begin a supplier. “I got a hit for 35 actor pounds of artefact — fabricated in a shack, accept it or not, at that time. I bought at 15 cents a pound, and I awash at 55 cents,” he said.
A business abstraction was born, array of.
From dogs to humans
Back then, rice protein from the MSG industry was abominably concentrated — about 55%. Janow knew aloof abundant analysis and allure to see an opportunity.
“I anticipation to myself, if it’s acceptable for dogs and bodies and animals, I accept it ability be acceptable for bodies as well,” he said.
He commutual up with a adviser and began experimenting with means to accomplish rice protein added concentrated and accompany it up to animal grade.
Janow and his ally came up with an all-natural action agnate to authoritative account — crumbling the rice, afresh putting it through a alternation of break and abstraction stages to end up with “fractions,” such as starch abstract and protein. He got the protein absorption to 65%, which became an industry standard.
Except it was an industry cat-and-mouse for a customer.
It angry out that it was a vegan play, it was a non-GMO play, it was a hypoallergenic play, it was a gluten-free play.
David Janow, CEO of Axiom Foods
Talking the talk
Janow hit the alley as a one-man TED allocution on the wonders of rice, assuming PowerPoint afterwards PowerPoint at conferences, aggravating to argue the aliment industry that rice was the new whey, a nonallergenic another to the dairy acquired that some consumers can’t abstract well.
He accustomed his enzyme-driven action to abstract protein afterwards application hexane, a neurotoxin.
Just as he acquired absorption in 2007, pets started dying mysteriously. U.S. aliment authorities traced the poisonings to Chinese rice protein in pet foods — arrant suppliers had abstruse they could d the protein quality-control tests by spiking their articles with melamine, a high-nitrogen admixture acclimated in plastics manufacture.
The afterwards recalls, impounds and testing captivated up best of Axiom’s human-grade protein shipments, aloof as it had invested heavily in expansion.
“By 2009 I was about bankrupt,” Janow said. “You don’t apprehend these hurdles until you hit them.”
Food trends rapidly confused in Axiom’s favor. Consumers began to about-face abroad from meat, accept vegan diets and appeal that the makers of their aliment prove they had a acceptable and low-impact accumulation alternation chargeless of chemicals and processes that were rapidly falling out of favor. This has appear to be accepted as the “clean label” trend.
Makers of juices, cereals, bloom confined and added appurtenances clamored for a acting for soy protein — fabricated from genetically adapted plants — and whey.
“It angry out that it was a vegan play, it was a non-GMO play, it was a hypoallergenic play, it was a gluten-free play. While I was developing it, the artefact absolutely hit and fell into all these altered areas,” Janow said.
It took six years for the Aliment and Drug Administration to affected its abysmal skepticism of rice protein — the bureau in 2015 accepted a “generally accustomed as safe,” or GRAS, imprimatur to it. This year, Axiom won a apparent for its assembly process, which now can ability levels of 90% protein.
Axiom, which got area it is afterwards alfresco adventure capital, isn’t absorbed in activity public, Janow said. “We’re undervalued appropriate now,” he said. “I’d be a penny banal at the most.”
That said, Janow believes the bazaar is alive rapidly in his favor; beneath accepted practices, the apple artlessly can’t accumulate agriculture atom to animals to get their protein.
“I’ve been offered to be bought out a few times. I still anticipate we’re at the tip of the iceberg. To be honest, I anticipate this can be a billion-dollar industry aural bristles to seven years,” Janow said. “I aloof charge to body the accommodation and basement for it.”
Running a 65-employee aggregation that controls as abundant as 95% of the rice protein bazaar is not Wall Street lawyering, but it’s no picnic.
Shortly afterwards abiding from a backward March business cruise to China, Janow took his boyhood son and fiancee skiing in Park City, Utah. Afterwards that, he planned to hit the alley again, aggravating to accumulate up with the demands of above customer packaged appurtenances companies.
“The faster you grow, the beneath accumulation you have, because they aloof appetite more,” Janow said. “They don’t appetite a little bit of product; they appetite a lot.”
Axiom hopes to accommodated some of that appeal by architecture its aboriginal U.S. branch this year, in Tennessee.
Food for thought
It’s no abruptness that an accommodation administrator would see his career as the artefact of simple architecture blocks: “Patience and persistence, the two Ps,” Janow said.
“Don’t accord up. I still today accept in it. I’m still assertive rice protein can be the aing protein that will advice the world,” Janow said. “I aloof ashore to it. Alike aback I was activity through bankruptcy.… You get a little luck and accept in what you’re accomplishing and the aing affair you know, you’re on your way.”
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