Resh Diu (OE 1992) is the mastermind behind a unique farming and food enterprise with sustainable meat-free nutrition at its heart. Sustainability Society asked him for his story.
Resh’s unusual career trajectory has been driven by curiosity. Training first as a dentist, Resh developed a successful string of practices over 25 years. A self-declared “course junkie”, he spent 9 years taking every postgraduate training opportunity and developing a CV as long as your arm.
“The problem with me as an individual is a very short attention span. As soon as I do one thing, I’m thinking what can I do next? I’m always looking for the next challenge.” Resh developed various side hustles along the way, each one sparked by a personal interest.
“The plant-based business was just an accident.” A keen gardener, Resh decided to take his hobby further by trying vertical farming. Having electrocuted himself a few times, and setting himself alight, building his own hydroponic farm in a repurposed shipping container, it came as no surprise to him when some of the lighting failed. What did surprise Resh is that the plants didn’t die, they changed.
“We researched it and found it’s actually a thing.” Exposing plants to different wavelengths of light fundamentally changes their make up. It can improve flavour, give a longer shelf life and increase the nutritional content. “You can change food to solve problems. If you’ve got an ageing population with a reduced ability to absorb stuff, create plant-based crops with a better amino acid profile for absorption, for instance”
The result is Eat Curious, a food development company bringing innovation and sustainability to the plant-based food sector. It is supported by Syan Farms, a solar-powered vertical farm providing better quality food, grown in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way.
“You can do anything, you just have to figure out how. When we started out, we didn’t have a Scooby-Doo what we were doing, and we were a minnow going up against some heavily invested companies. You just have to believe in your product and go in with some backbone.”
Their products are continually evolving as Resh and his team learn more. Beginning from a meat-free premise, they moved quickly into free-from foods and are now working on pre-fortification.
“I’ve learned more about business in the last 18 months than in the previous 25 years. The biggest lesson I learnt was just speaking to people. Put your pen down and listen to what they’re saying.”
That includes listening to your market and working with them to solve problems. Commercially produced meat has a high carbon footprint, whereas Eat Curious proteins have significantly less of the footprint of beef. Many meat alternatives are produced by extracting proteins from vegetables using chemicals, which remain in the food, whereas Eat Curious uses physical processing to keep their products all natural. It’s no wonder then that Eat Curious recently signed major deals with the University of Birmingham and a number of NHS hospitals.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have practiced dentistry, my brother and I set up a wi-fi business in 2003, gained NVQ in fish frying for a Chip Shop that we opened in 2010, owned a hotel in 2006– that one was really bad! – but without a doubt this is where I am happiest. It’s super hard, we don’t make any money yet, and I’ll be out the door at 5am tomorrow – but we can actually make a difference. It sounds really cliché, but its true.”
“Every single person in the world is an entrepreneur, they just don’t know it. It is a mindset.”