• The first event of this week was extremely exciting: I’ve finally gone public with the startup that I’ve been wanging on about in these weeknotes for ages.

    It’s called Honest Umami, and we’re selling MSG. That’s right, monosodium glutamate, that most vilified of ingredients. We think the time is ripe for people to reconsider MSG: lots of chefs and foodies are already reappraising it, and of course Asian cooks have always used it.

  • Launching the brand was nerve-wracking but unbelievably exciting. It’s been really nice to get positive feedback from friends and family and to see the orders start coming in. If making the stock was the bit that made it feel tangible, seeing it start to leave the doors was a satisfying moment – like watching a child grow up and fly the nest.

  • We’ve got two jobs now: to build relationships with influencers and other people with larger followings, to help get the word out; and to build relationships with forward-thinking retailers who want to list the product. Watch this space.

  • I went to a brilliant B Corp event on Wednesday hosted by Good Company; among the brilliant brands in attendance were St. Eval, Tony’s Chocolonely, Lucky Saint and THIS.

    At the end, there was some discussion about the challenges facing B Corps. One thing that struck me is that I didn’t hear anyone articulate a mechanism by which the behaviours of B Corps would become the behaviours of mainstream companies.

    Would the B Corp movement do that by charm and persuasion, convincing the leaders of those companies to change their ways? Would it happen through consumer choice, with consumers voting with their wallets and choosing ethical businesses, leaving unethical businesses with shrinking market shares? Would it happen through government regulation? Nobody seemed to have a clear view, and yet the answer to that question changes everything about what the B Corp movement should be aiming to achieve, and who it should be including and excluding.

    It reminded me of something I wrote about a couple of years ago about the idea of “ESG value investing”. The thesis then was that companies would be forced to internalise their externalities in ways that the market didn’t currently recognise, and so companies that were doing good represented an investment opportunity. Investors adopting that attitude could certainly lead to broader adoption of B Corp values; unfortunately, the trend in investment seems to be in the opposite direction.