Vicky Pappas joined us for a short interview to share her insights, inspirations and challenges.
Vicky is the CEO of My Co – Paule Family Office Portfolio Company Investments vehicle – which focuses primary on investments in the health, food & beverage, sustainability, agriculture and technology sectors. Vicky has amassed more than twenty years’ experience managing Operations, Retail, Sales and Business Development teams within globally-renowned L’Oreal Luxe brands and the Country Road Group.
Why do you do what you do – what drives you as an individual and gets you out of bed in the morning?
This is a big question. To put it simply, I do what I do because I firmly believe in our collective power as humans to create positive change through our actions and day-to-day choices. At My Co (the Paule Family Office), we focus on investing in start-ups that have goodness at their core and disrupt industries for the purposes of betterment, whether that be philanthropic, environmental, or other. By supporting these ventures, we contribute to building a better world. I find great purpose and fulfillment in working towards a future where our choices and investments have a meaningful impact on society and the well-being of others.
For those who have not listened to Terry’s episode, what’s My Co and what makes you different?
My Co was founded by Terry and his brother Spiro as an investment vehicle and is the Paule Family Office. We primarily invest in start-ups within the FABTECH space and run several well-known brands out of our office in Prahran.
Having founded successful companies themselves, namely Mediterranean lifestyle brand Lemnos Foods, and financial services company Findex amongst others, a wealth of knowledge and experience is being called upon to support these start-ups from grassroots phases through to scale-up, and beyond. Our humble team punch well above their weight through the implementation of a virtual business model internally and take a hands-on approach with all our investment, which we view as an extension of our business.
Tell me about BioCheese and Meliora – and what the brands are doing differently to innovate?
The plant-based movement is one that we are incredibly supportive of, and one that I have personal interest in given my flexitarian lifestyle.
Both BioCheese and Meliora are brands that we have founded ourselves, that both play within the plant-based and vegan, allergen-friendly space. BioCheese is Australia’s first and market-leading plant-based cheese brand, while Meliora is a recently founded plant-based protein company that currently has brought Australia’s best-selling plant-based deli meats and egg products to market.
While these brands deliver different products to market, both focus on cutting-edge technology, premium ingredients, and accessible pricing. The combination of these elements is why they resonate with consumers – being the highest functionality, most flavourful and best value items within their respective categories. We are also not afraid to disrupt ourselves and continue to work on product improvements in the background, with the agility to bring novel enhancements to market efficiently.
As far as I am aware, BioCheese was a first mover in the Australian vegan cheese market, what have you seen take place in the industry that the public (or even industry-adjacent) is likely to have missed?
BioCheese was the first mover in the Australian plant-based/vegan cheese market some nine years ago now. It has been quite the journey.
Something people may have missed during this time is the significant investment and partnership between major meat and dairy producers and plant-based food companies. Several prominent industry giants have recognised the growing demand for plant-based alternatives and have made strategic moves into the market. For those aware, it has certainly raised some ethical questions, but by and large, it truly confirms the strength (and endurance) of the plant-based movement.
How does My Co’s investment ethos drive investment decisions and how do you ensure alignment?
Perhaps the most important component is alignment ourselves. We believe in the work we are doing and have clear business goals and interests. We research investment options that match these goals and values, in addition to our risk profile.
We have some sectors that we are interested in investing in, which is primarily driven by the above alignment, in addition to portfolio diversification.
We have a variety of exciting portfolio brands, all of which can be found at our website.
Which brands or individuals do you look to for inspiration and how do you apply those observations?
We very frequently refer to a myriad of businesses in our office, both to aspire towards and to learn from. If I were to, however, name an inspiring individual my mind immediately goes to Jo Horgan (the CEO of Mecca), someone whose journey I have followed quite closely. Having had prior experience in the beauty industry, I have lived the transformation that she has made in this space.
What’s your greatest friction point at the moment and what are you learning from it?
We always say we ‘build the bike while riding it’ in that our team is development frameworks and implementing systems all-the-while completing day-to-day tasks. Doing so can cause friction within the business at times, but we are all aligned in working toward a common goal and know that doing so will make us more efficient in time. Patience and at times the ‘fail, fail quickly, and learn’ is key.
What have you found to be the most valuable resource in the development of your career?
In my career development, I find the most valuable resources to be both mentorship and podcasts in more recent times.
Mentorship provides guidance and insights from individuals who possess more knowledge and experience in my field. Their guidance helps me navigate challenges, gain new perspectives, and accelerate my growth.
Podcasts also offer a wealth of industry-specific information, expert interviews, and actionable advice that I can access conveniently.
Who would you like to see an interview with – and what would you ask them?
I saw your piece on ‘Future of Foods: What’s on the Menu in 2050’ and think Skye Blackburn, founder of the Edible Bug Shop, would be interesting to interview. Skye performs sustainable food practices and is a world leader in Edible Insect farming techniques. I would ask her what was on the menu at her place this evening.
Vicky will be pleased to hear that way back in 2019, Skye joined us for an episode on the program.