On this episode, we have Christian Ebersol & Nick Wallace of 99 Counties. Christian serves as a Co-Founder and CEO while Nick is also a Co-Founder and the Chief Farmer.
99 Counties is supporting regenerative agriculture with its direct-to-consumer, e-commerce business that partners with small family farms in Iowa and sells a myriad of regeneratively raised meat products to people in all of the lower 48 states.
In this episode, we talk about Nick’s personal journey that led to the creation of Wallace Farms, his vision to regenerate the 99 counties of Iowa and how crossing paths with Christian led him to turn his direct-to-consumer farm business into a brand aggregating from farmers across the entire state of Iowa and servicing customers across the nation.
99 Counties is truly on the front lines as Iowa is ground zero for degenerative agriculture that is driving countless human and planetary health issues.
Among the 50 states Iowa ranks:
Dead last in soil erosion rates
2nd to last in ecosystem impacts
4th to last in conservation practices
5th highest rate of water nutrient run-off
7th highest incidence of cancer
And the 11th highest obesity rate
🤯 Iowa’s massive problems linked to food & agriculture
📈 How Nick started Wallace Farms and grew it to $1M+
🤔 The growth plateau that caused Nick to think bigger
🙏 Nick’s inspiration for 99 Counties from the Acres Eco-Ag Conference
🛻 How Christian met Nick and became his Co-Founder
✉️ Using direct mail “love letters” in their marketing strategy
🥩 Solving for whole carcass utilization through product development
📦 Differences between a DTC-focused and retail-focused brand
🇺🇸 Going national to do more good in Iowa
🔥 Why it’s time for all of us to “pick a side”
ReGen Brands Recap #46 - Regenerating Iowa One County At A Time - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 00:00:15
Welcome to The ReGen Brands Podcast. This is a place for consumers operators and investors to learn about the consumer brands, supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host, Kyle, joined by my co-host AC who's going to take us into the episode.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:00:34
On this episode, we have Christian Ebersol and Nick Wallace of 99 Counties. Christian serves as a co-founder and CEO while Nick is also a co-founder and the chief farmer, 99 Counties is supporting regenerative agriculture with this direct to consumer e-commerce business that partners with small family farms in Iowa and sells a myriad of regenerative raised meat products to people in all of the lower 48 states. In this episode, we talk about Nick's personal journey that led him to the creation of Wallace farms, his vision to regenerate the 99 Counties of Iowa and how crossing paths with Christian led him to turn his direct to consumer single farm business into a venture backed brand aggregating from farmers across the entire state and servicing customers across the nation. If you're ready to feel something, then you've come to the right place. We had a great tactical wisdom as usual but also really dug into the deep societal imperative around shifting our agricultural systems. 99 Counties is truly on the front lines as Iowa is ground zero for degenerative agriculture that is driving countless human and planetary health issues among the 50 states, Iowa ranks dead last in soil erosion rates. Second to last in ecosystem impacts. Fourth to last in conservation practices.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:01:33
Fifth highest rate of water nutrient runoff, seventh highest incidence of cancer and has the 11th highest obesity rate. What more needs to be said? Let's dive in. What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The ReGen Brands Podcast. Very excited today to have our friends, Christian and Nick from 99 Counties. So welcome fellas.
Christian Ebersol - 00:02:14
Thanks for having us. Great to be here.
Nick Wallace - 00:02:15
Awesome. Yep. No doubt we're
Kyle Krull - 00:02:18
super stoked. Um Quick heads up to all the listeners that this has been prefaced as a gloves off episode. There may or may not be a little bit more wearing than some previous episodes. I just want to set the tone now uh to make sure we're all on the same page. So, you know, Nick Christian, you know, give our audience a quick lay of the land. So what does 99 Counties produce in terms of, you know, animal uh products? What, what are the skew s where can people find your stuff today?
Christian Ebersol - 00:02:44
Awesome. Thank you. Just, and a quick note on the name, there are 99 Counties in the great state of Iowa. And it is our mission to transform those to be regenerative. And we believe Iowa is ground zero for kind of fixing everything in agriculture. We sell regenerative meat, direct to consumer. If you live anywhere in the lower 48 states, you can get the most delicious regenerative raised grass fed grass, finished beef, pastured pork, chicken, turkey. Soon to be lamb, all source from small family farms in Iowa. We also have a new meat stick product. Nick is like this creative genius. When it comes to those products, there's a hot honey pork, there's a honey pork, there's a sugar free beef, they're really great.
Christian Ebersol - 00:03:13
So it's interesting like we've got the, if you're in Iowa or Illinois, we deliver to your doorstep like the milkman used to with the meat. Um And then if you're elsewhere in the lower 48 we will ship to you. Um And then of course, we also have the meat stick product that eventually will be omni channel.
Kyle Krull - 00:03:38
Anthony Corsaro - 00:03:40
Love it. Love it. And you know, I think this is a really cool story because it's the evolution of really Nick's farms, direct to consumer business and now serving more customers and sourcing for more farmers. So Nick just take us back, man. How did this all get started? I know there's some, some very personal pieces. So we'd love to hear that story.
Nick Wallace - 00:03:59
Yeah, I will. Uh if you allow me, I'll take you on a little story. I've been doing this. I'm 46. I've been doing this for a little more than 20 years now. So, uh, I can't believe that it's been that long, but here we are. Um, so my dad, I grew up in a small farming community in northeast Iowa called Strawberry Point. My dad was a com commodity farmer. Uh, in the eighties had a bunch of awesome cows, four, maybe 400 acres. And then the farm crisis hit right. Interest rates went from 6% to 22% in less than two years. Not a lot of farmers made it. Uh, my dad had to find a new uh career. He stayed in farming, right. So, uh he was working for a grass seed company called Berenberg.
Nick Wallace - 00:04:30
Uh They, they're one of the largest grass seed companies in the world. They work with a lot of organic farmers. He came back from Oregon and, and um, I was playing baseball out there too and, and came back to Iowa and started this company um for them in the Midwest, the Midwest territory. Um So he went up to, this was shortly after I had, I had cancer and I went through chemo and, you know, almost died. Right. Yeah. Playing college sports, couldn't, I was a pitcher and couldn't heal anymore in between starts. So, uh this was shortly after that.
Nick Wallace - 00:05:00
Dad goes up to a, the acres USA conference in Minneapolis. He uh he was had a trade booth there and he was listening to Ray, he at tree range and he was listening to some other great speakers. He saw Sally Fallon speak with the West and a Price Foundation. The oiling of America was, she was on this tour to talk, educate people like, hey, we don't realize we are being poisoned by our food, food, nutrient density is gone. All, all the things, things that the West A Price Foundation was about. Dad comes home, calls a family meeting, everybody, sit down. We are going to change the way this family looks at food.
Nick Wallace - 00:05:40
Nick you had, can you, you had cancer because of chemicals and the food system had changed. You want, you know, from scratch cooking here at home, you went off to college, you were, you know, you were stressed out and um he said this is, this is gonna stop. So uh we, we, he, he had a good friend who was raising grass fed beef in Southern Minnesota. Doug gun was his name, you know, bless his soul. He passed away in a farm accident some years ago. Um We started to sell dad's like, hey, grass fed beef is going to be everywhere in 10 years. This is the future. About the time Power Steer came out the article from pollen in New York Times and it was just like we had, we had a revelation.
Nick Wallace - 00:06:18
We're like, we're gonna
Christian Ebersol - 00:06:33
get a year.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:06:34
Nick Wallace - 00:06:35
year is this? This was 99 2025 about 25 26 years ago. So, um, so we pivot. We're like, hey, and I'm, I'm in done with college. Uh, go to Chicago. I'm a insurance broker. Hate it. I go out to Colorado up in the mountains and I do a, a culinary program, European style apprenticeship, apprenticeship about this the same time that we start Wallace farms and that's gonna, we're gonna just sell grass fed beef to people. People don't even know what grass fed beef is in 2003. And my sister, my sister-in-law is in Chicago and she's trying to, you know, she's got a few customers who websites just started to be a thing. Um It was early so I'm in culinary school but not happy because, you know, it's just no, there's, you know, not enough money and I it was my tuning fork was off. So I moved back to Iowa with no, like youngest kid, no family and everybody in the family is like, hey, you have nothing going on. Why don't you see if you can do Wallace farms, right? Like uh pretty much like you are at rock bottom, you know.
Nick Wallace - 00:07:32
Um So they're like, why don't you, why don't you see what you can make of this? Because we think it's gonna be AAA thing. So I start going to farmers markets in Des Moines. I'm, I'm reading all of Joel Salatin stuff. Like I'm just, all his books were absorbed in a matter of, you know, a month and he has these metropolitan buying clubs. So I'm like, that's what I'm gonna do.
Nick Wallace - 00:08:03
So I go to, I, I grab as many email lists I can, I go to all the health fair. I'm going to farmers' markets and I'm starting this business one box at a time. So flash forward, like over the course of a decade, we went from, you know, 12,000 in sales to 11.2 million in sales off the back of the truck. And I'm packing orders and driving and doing chores because we, at that time, we had a century family farm. We started to transition. So it wasn't just our friends farm and then I'm bringing a coalition of all these farmers are in and around me, right? And then I create a sackick company in there that really went crazy.
Nick Wallace - 00:08:36
And we did 4 million in sales and snacks sticks in a matter of five years. So it was just this roller coaster of just straight up, right? And we blasted right through 08 being horrible, you know, financial like we did nothing but grow when we, when we shouldn't have because we were at the right place at the right time with the right product, right? We were trailblazing. It was us uh 1000 Hills Cattle Company, us Wellness at John Wood. It was uh you know, some of the other people across the country were, were, were uh attaching themselves to this need. Um, but I hit a plateau about 2016, maybe 17. Like sales finally went flat.
Nick Wallace - 00:09:07
And what happened was I got outflanked by the grocery stores and the big corporations, um J BS started getting in and so grocery stores started to carry the label of grass fed beef. Right. So people weren't able to come out on a Saturday morning to meet me out the truck to buy their, you know, meat. It, it did, there were other reasons too, but it was just like that was the first time I looked at Wallace firms and I said like, what are we doing? Like, what are we trying to accomplish? And my dad's goal has always been to, to change agriculture, right?
Nick Wallace - 00:09:47
And I, and that's just part of our family ethos is like we need to turn Iowa back into grass and that's not gonna happen. But what if we could turn 25% of Iowa back into forage chain or 50%? Right. So I'll circle the story back, which is kind of crazy. I'm really feeling deflated. This is about four years ago and dad's like, hey Acres is back in Minneapolis, why don't mom and I are going, why don't you come up with us?
Nick Wallace - 00:10:14
You stay, you know, stay in our, our hotel room and just come up and you know, there's a few people you probably want to see. So I look at who's at the Acres conference. Zach Bush is the keynote and I'm a huge, huge Bush guy. Like, I mean, the guy, I'm not sure he's even human. Um and just spoke to me because I had cancer, right? He was designing chemo drug, you know, his whole story, Triple Board Certified.
Nick Wallace - 00:10:41
And I listened to some of his rich role podcasts early and it was like, all right, I'm in so he was up there and then I, and then I uh befriended David Leon with farmer's footprint. You know, he's directing that David. David was going to be up there and then Matt E were just, was just on the, on the scene and Brandon was gonna be up there and then Ray with Tree Range was gonna do a thing. So I'm like, I'm, I have two things, I'm going up there. Let's go. Yep. So I, I, I'm, I'm driving up there and I'm like, I don't see any animals outside. I don't, it is like I was, I was pissed going up there.
Nick Wallace - 00:11:14
So I have a great couple, 23 days, whatever it was, you know how you get your cup refilled and had had like a little tiny group dinner with Zach and some other people and Brandon and David and just kicking around, right? And her saw Ray, he speak with tree range and the Ray, he piece like really stuck in my mind. So I'm, I'm driving 3.5 hours south of acres, which is ironically where this all started for my dad with Sally Fallon and the, you know, wise traditions. Uh, so I'm driving home and I'm like, man, what if we could do a tree range in every county? And what if we could just get one beef producer to do 50 head? And what if we could get one pork guy just to do 100 head, right?
Nick Wallace - 00:11:57
So then I'm like, all right, each county and I grew up mostly I grew up in Iowa and I had, you know, I've been here back, back for a few years and I thought, I don't even know how many counties are in Iowa. How many I asked Google, how many counties are in Iowa? I'd have to do
Anthony Corsaro - 00:12:23
the same thing for Indiana. So I'm right there with you. I don't even know.
Nick Wallace - 00:12:26
Right. So the nine, 29 counties pops up and I'm like, my marketing was like, oh shit, that's the name. Like we got it. That, that's it. That's a cool name. They have the 1% for the people or the 1% elites. Like, you know, like we need the, the food for the 99% right? Like this is, this is the movement. So three hours later, I'm writing on papers on my console as I'm driving like, ok, 50 times, 4000 head of beef and, and that's when
Anthony Corsaro - 00:12:59
the, that's when, you know, it's rolling, dude. That's great. Oh, it's awesome. It was good.
Nick Wallace - 00:13:03
So, I get home and I've established a $500 million business by the know, I mean, that, yeah, and I'm like, this isn't even hard because it's not even that much farmers like that. I mean, I don't even need that, that much. All that I need now are customers and I'm like, well, who wouldn't sign up for 100 and $50 a month? Not even all their groceries, not even all their calories, just 100 and $50 a month, times 10, 10,000. And then you add a zero and then you have Willie Nelson go online and you do a, you know, like the Chipotle commercial, you just need like Willie or James Earl Jones to narrate this thing and then you got a million people that are giving you $100 and then you take that times 12 months and it's like we just changed Iowa. I changed Iowa on the way home. So it was Zach Bush and Ray at Tree Range and Brandon and David and it was like, it's on. So I did that. I came home, I started gathering my friends at practical farmers of Iowa, Wendy Johnson and Megan and Caleb.
Nick Wallace - 00:13:51
And then this is where Christian can tell his part of the story. But that is, that is like that, that to me and I'm a big like, woo, like uh hippie like energy guy and that was like Law of Attraction and the synchronicity, it's real. Of course, it needed to happen like that. So,
Anthony Corsaro - 00:14:33
yeah, that's awesome, man. So Christian finds me.
Christian Ebersol - 00:14:37
I got, I I have I get emotional just hearing the story and I've, I've heard this story so many times now. That's the best version Nick's given seriously. And it's like, you know, I've only been along for this ride kind of 2, 2.5 years. And I mean, with Nick, it's just like, it's, I mean, it's just such a privilege to be a part of it. So, um I grew up in a small town in Connecticut. It used to be the dairy capital of America before this thing called Wisconsin happened. Um But I didn't have a farming background whatsoever. History, major in college, investment banker later on, et cetera. Long story short, a couple of years ago, I was working in San Francisco. I transitioned from like finance, venture capital to working at a startup.
Christian Ebersol - 00:15:04
California is on fire, like literally fires, droughts, et cetera. So I'm like, you know what, like, I'm tired of selling insurance online, which is basically what I was doing. And I really want to work in climate change and like, make a positive difference in the world. And so I was fortunate enough to spend a year working for a venture capital firm as an entrepreneur residence. My timing was really lucky. Like I, I left this other job and explored this whole starting a company thing when climate was really, really hot.
Christian Ebersol - 00:15:32
Um This is during the year of uh 2020 that I had this site that I kind of pitched spending the year of 2021 doing this. So 2021 I start of the year, I'm researching solar panels. I'm like looking around San Francisco. I'm like, why does every house not have a solar panel on it? Um Then I'm like looking at electric vehicles and at one point I'm looking at direct air capture and I'm like, wow, this is so cool. These companies are sucking carbon out of the air with fans and like putting it on the ground. Brilliant. But then I'm like, man, it is expensive from an energy standpoint to like suck carbon out of the air.
Christian Ebersol - 00:16:07
So I'm listening to a book on tape on audible called Animal Vegetable Junk by Mark Bit on February 28th of 2021. And it hits me. There's this thing called soil carbon sequestration. And I'm like, oh my gosh, all my peers on the coasts are out of their minds like there are these things called plants that naturally consume carbon and put it in the ground like holy holy moly. Like we gotta look at this. So I do a bunch of academic research. I call gay brown like all the stereotype typical stuff you would do, which by the way is easy because the number of us that are big enough nerds to like, call gay Brown or whatever is not that many.
Christian Ebersol - 00:16:44
So, it's not that hard. Like the regenerative community is actually like, totally open and willing to connect. So then I'm like, ok, well, unfortunately, by background, I'm, I'm a coastal elite. I grew up in Connecticut. I'm in San Francisco, but I'm never gonna have a prayer of like doing anything in, in this community. I've got to find someone who comes from this world and I need to get out there and actually understand, you know, what farming is.
Christian Ebersol - 00:17:08
So I run a pickup truck in Helena Montana. Um And I spend like a month driving across the country, you know, I mean, just hitting all these like incredible people in the community. Um I visit Jonathan Lungren's farm. Um I go to Lauren Steinle's daughter's wedding, which he was kind enough to invite me to. I actually at one point met David Brat. Um You know, may he rest in peace? He was a fascinating person in this, in this community. Anyway, drive through Iowa.
Christian Ebersol - 00:17:33
I stop and I have uh afternoon kind of water at Sarah Carlson of Practical Farmers of Iowa's house in Des Moines. And I'm, I'm talking about me rotational grazing and cattle. I got, she's like, you have got to meet Nick Wallace of 99 Counties like, you know what he's doing is so cool. And so she ends up connecting me to Nick like, oh my God, this I see Nick's video in his loft where he's got a map of Iowa behind it with 99 Counties. And I'm like, wow, this guy, this guy's got to figure it out. I mean, this guy is gonna be so successful. God, I wish I had that idea. Um And then Nick and I start talking, I make him do like 5 million zooms. Um He's now, he's now the world's biggest fan of zoom and I love it.
Christian Ebersol - 00:18:15
We, we realize that like the two of us together have complimentary skill sets and we should do this. So we ended up raising some capital um at the start of 2022. And it's like, I mean, it's been basically almost two years since we incorporated the business. Sometimes it feels like two months, sometimes it feels like 20 years. Um And fast forward to today. We've worked with over 26 farmers in Iowa over the last two years, we have this incredible website, these products, this incredible new meat stick product that Nick Built.
Christian Ebersol - 00:18:45
Um And we're growing honestly not as fast as we would like, but, but it's all there for the taking. Like there's so much opportunity and I just had the privilege to spend a week biking across the entire state of Iowa through the, the rag. And it just, it reminds me of like all we have to save, you know, as we'll tell you, Iowa is 90% corn and soybeans. Um, and that's not feeding people and it's having a lot of negative impacts on the land. Um, and with just enough consumers that wanna do what Nick said and spend 100 and 50 bucks a month with us to get great meat. It's great for the health. We can really make a difference.
Christian Ebersol - 00:19:25
Um, in Iowa and ultimately the world,
Kyle Krull - 00:19:39
there's so much going back. Yeah, there's so much going back with the origin story with the way you two met with like the mothership energy of bringing people together. There also seems to be like this sort of like ac I don't know if you thought about this at all or not, but it feels almost similar to how you and I met in terms of, you know, my health journey, my passion, your sort of financial background, complimentary skill sets. So there's a lot to unpack here. Um One of the things I want to make sure we give a shout out to is Nick's list of essentially regenerative rock stars that influenced him and like he, he was able to be inspired by and learn from. Um I thought that was really cool. Um I guess what, what I think would be really important to talk about is some of the why and you know, Iowa in particular is a super heavy agricultural state. And as we all know heavy in the utilization of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, et cetera. So, let's talk a little bit about why Iowa is so important to you too and why that's such a, a unique place to really, like, be pushing region forward.
Kyle Krull - 00:20:24
So, I don't know how you want to tackle that or approach that. Um, maybe we start with some of the problems with agriculture and the effects those have on the, the general population. Nick, I know that's near and dear to your heart. So if you wanna like unveil some of that information, that'd be awesome.
Nick Wallace - 00:20:57
Yeah, this uh man, I tell you, I'll start with how bad it is. And this is uh when Christian and I were on, we're doing, which is that bicycle ride across Iowa? You know, it's like 50,000 people. Um I found myself really th this is where we need to go. We are, we are all adults that are ignoring the, the problem and we're not, we're not asking why. Ok, so Iowa is now 49 out of 50 for cancer rates, 49 out of 50. I'm not sure who the unlucky 50 is. Doesn't matter. Um We're 46 out of 50 for obesity. Uh ki kids. Now, I think 60% have autoimmune diseases. We are failing our Children like miserably and yet we have those rates and we don't we, oh, it's maybe it's genetic.
Nick Wallace - 00:21:33
Maybe it's, I mean, there must be a reason. Right. Um, Iowa sprays more chemicals than any other state may. Maybe, you know, maybe you could argue like California with all the, you know, the valleys. But I would say as a whole 98% of Iowa's corn and soybeans triple stack technology and all I see in the spring are sprayers hitting everything for a month and a half and then all I see in June are airplanes and helicopters. Look, it's like freaking apocalypse now, like, you know, smelling a palm in the morning. It is, it's just a bombardment of chemicals and cancer rates.
Nick Wallace - 00:22:29
At 49 out of 50 the adults in the room need to step up and say, why is this and those who refuse to talk to about, about it, those maybe potential corporations and politicians maybe need to retire and step and because guess what, someday our Children, if we ever get this figured out or we really come to the truth, they're gonna go. What? And, uh, f were you doing? You should be embarrassed. And so I have a 14, a 10 and a seven year old and I will be damned if I'm gonna sit in there and when they get chemotherapy, when they're 20 years old. Right.
Nick Wallace - 00:23:06
And I said the last thing I'll put on this and I, I've taken this out of my slides. I do some of these dinners where we get 100 people in a room, we feed them like we, we, we inspire them. The slide I took out that I'm gonna bring you up to right now is in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic. Right. That's a huge, like, it's a, it's a teaching hospital that's like really well known. It sits right across the street from, uh, my beloved kick stadium where the University of Iowa Hawkeyes play. We, we had a pretty, pretty awesome football team. A really good defense. Right.
Nick Wallace - 00:23:49
Anthony Corsaro - 00:23:58
unfortunately got my ass kicked pretty good in that stadium. So we'll leave that for another time. Where were you, where
Nick Wallace - 00:24:04
were you playing? Indiana? Yeah, we usually smoke Indiana pretty good. So, I don't know if you've paid attention to the children's hospital built across the street and we have a, now I'm gonna, I'm gonna say, uh, this is like a 30 40 story beautiful glass building that overlooks the stadium and every, at the end of every quarter, all the fans stop and they wave to the, the sick kids that are on the top floor watching the game. Right? I mean, bless all the, the kids in there and, and the workers and those that are trying to save those kids' lives. Right. But you have to ask yourself why, why is that building there? It's not all broken arms and you know, surgery, you know, things that accidents that happen to kids, right? That is an autoimmune deficiency building and essentially what we're doing is giving tribute to that system.
Nick Wallace - 00:24:51
And so it's, you know, it's, it's just sad and I, I take that out because you could imagine some of the reaction that people would give me if I, if I'm, I'm not demonizing the people and the, the people that have the love and, and that are fighting for their lives and they're trying, I, I, that, that I'm giving tribute to what I'm saying is why the f is that building there? So, um I think we need to look at ourselves pretty, pretty intensely in the mirror and, and being honest and saying, we're, we're failing miserably because crony capitalism has deeply rooted itself in Iowa post, World War Two. That war machine came back and it's got a stranglehold and it's not the farmers' fault because they, it's, they've been incentivized. We can get into that too. But those are just my thoughts right now.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:26:03
We'll put a pin in that one. I'm gonna, we're gonna come back to that one.
Christian Ebersol - 00:26:06
Yeah, I'll, if I can just, I'll add something to that quickly that I think speaks to part of the challenge we're all trying to solve here during this rag week. Um We were in, you know, all these awesome towns and one of the towns we were in at one point got, we had a Papa shot thing that Nick was doing. Nick was a star high school basketball player. No one can beat this guy in pop shot. And all these kids would be there and there was this mom there from the town and I was talking to her and learning about her and it turns out they were going later that day to see their dad who was flying the crop duster plane. I mean, by the way, for people like me from Connecticut, California, like crop dusters are like in movies and then you're in Iowa and they're like all over the place you're like, this still exists. Anyway, this lovely woman, her husband, he flies a crop duster plane.
Christian Ebersol - 00:26:37
That's his livelihood. That's his business. He's got a lovely family that he cares about and needs to put food on the table for them candidly that crop duster is causing cancer, that crop duster is awful. But, you know, it's not gonna work overnight to just put that individual out of a job. Same thing with the ethanol plants that I'm very against. And so Nick and I think the solution is grassroots from the ground up as 99 Counties grows more and more farmers change from doing chemical agriculture to doing regenerative agriculture because we've created a market for that. And that way we're easing into it over time.
Christian Ebersol - 00:27:08
And we're not, you know, honestly, like, if I were the, the head of the EPA or the, the USDA for a day, I would get rid of all the subsidies. And I'd say let's change this thing right away. But what's gonna be more humanistic and better for people is if people like us, the other folks you've had in your podcast just succeed quickly but gradually over time and it'll just be a market pull that will pull more and more of those acres into a form of agriculture that is better for people's health, better for the communities. Um, and results in this more regenerative world.
Nick Wallace - 00:27:55
Let's just, uh, let's just put some fish emulsion in that plane. Spray that and smell like fish for a couple of weeks in the summer. Right? I mean, he can still do his job, just let's just spray biological stuff. But
Christian Ebersol - 00:28:08
Kyle Krull - 00:28:10
it makes sense and, and guys, I super appreciate the why. Um Nick Chris, I don't know if, you know, I also was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. Uh was my 31st birthday. Um So I, I've been in the chemo rooms, I've had the surgeries and I, I feel the passion and the authenticity. Nick with what you're talking about. Um And it, it, you're absolutely right. It's a systemic issue. And I think that's one of the hardest things about trying to fight this industrial machine is that there's not necessarily a single villain. It's a byproduct of capitalism in the post world war two agricultural era.
Kyle Krull - 00:28:30
So it's really hard to like point the finger and say we're gonna fight this war against, you know, this person or this one chemical is bad or you know, it's, it's a whole systemic problem which is significantly more complicated to try to change. Um Also, I meant to mention this earlier. One of the things we talked about on a lot of the podcast is people's first like indoctrination moment into regenerative. And you guys both touched on that earlier. So I want to call that out like the, the Zach Bush Ritual podcast, Christian, I can't remember what you were listening to, but there's like this moment where these to use your words Christian, these regenerative nerds myself included first, like, really understand the concept and the power of regenerative agriculture and they're like, holy shit. Like I'm gonna do this for the rest of my life. Like there's so much potential if we can get more people to understand and, and support this system of food from both the climate perspective and the health perspective.
Kyle Krull - 00:29:16
So I, I, I'm just trying to appreciate everything you guys are sharing and saying that I, we, we are very much on the same page. Um And super. So to have you on the pot, I wanna pivot a little bit more into the brand side. actually ac I'll let you take some questions because I'm two in a row. Now, you go ahead.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:29:42
Yeah. No, you're, you're, you're picking up what, what my brain's telling you. I wanna get tactical on the brand side. I wanna ask one last macro question because now is the time to ask it and I want to follow it up with some more tactical questions around the brand, the business, etcetera. But the last macro question is really, I think we, we firmly believe and we see through the pastures of the world and, and you know, all all the people we could name that there clearly is a difference made when we can create consumer demand through these brands and through these businesses like for these products that increase supply, right, increase the incentives for the farmers. I think the the the problem in the Midwest being from the Midwest as well as like corn and soybeans is the problem. And like y'all are in ground zero for that and it still is super hard to get farmer Joe Farmer Sally to like do regenerative, rotated grassfed grass, finished beef versus GMO corn sprayed, et cetera, right? Like, so Nick, my question for you is like either high level or tactical. Like how do we actually give, let's give the incentives, right? Let's say the incentives are there, let's say the markets there.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:30:40
Like how do we actually get people to turn, like to rep per these systems to turn Iowa back into an Oakfield Savannah versus mono corn and soybean.
Nick Wallace - 00:31:00
Uh Well, you said, Mo you know the money's there. Uh I would say the hard answer and the easy answer are the same. It's, it sounds too simple. It's just about money. I mean, and, and I don't say that by, by demonizing the farmer because they, the, they're spinning everything they make, you know, I mean, it's not like they're, everybody's getting richer now. There's some big farmers get rich. Right. But that's, that's not normally the case. People are just want, trying to make a living and doing the right thing and they've been pushed into the system and, and the hard part of that is, do we think the government would take? I don't know how I would.
Nick Wallace - 00:31:28
I always dream about how much money it would take and how many years. But imagine you just said we're gonna print a trillion dollars and it's gonna be 10 years and we're gonna say these chemicals potentially are harmful trillion dollars. 10 years. That's, you better figure it out and guess what, John Deere is gonna get to work, you know, they're already figured out with like lasers. How do you just send a, a machine through the field? And it laser a I recognizes every weed and lasers, lasers the tissue and there's no more weeds. John Deere and all those engineers can figure it out. Same thing with all those industries. They could figure it out. They can figure it out. No problem.
Nick Wallace - 00:32:07
But it's moving the, the machine towards that way. It could just be a beautiful machine instead of a machine that poisons. But I mean, to me it's, it's money, right? But that only solves one issue. Ok. So now we have all these farmers in Iowa that are growing real food that's clean and nutrient dense. You have to have somebody buy that food, right?
Nick Wallace - 00:32:33
But you have to have customers that can afford it and are driven emotionally or physically or are being told by their doctor or being told by an influencer that there's that. Why would you not buy this food? And it can't be two X or three X what it, what their current Costco Hall is or Sam's Club or, you know, we have high vs here, whatever that is. So it, it just comes down to money. Um Now, that's not to say we can't have a tipping point and we get to two or three or 4% or five or 10 and then it starts to, to turn that machine that's probably likely what will happen because we can get to scale. Um And then we can get an impact investors like understanding there's a long road here. But um I don't, I don't know if that completely answers your question, but it's, it's unfortunately a monetary thing on both sides and maybe in the middle too.
Kyle Krull - 00:33:47
No, I think you're right. I think the uh the incentives are really gonna be the big piece here. And right now the government is incentivizing people to grow non nutrient dense mono crop food. And at the same time, like those people are getting sick and then the government is spending a bunch of money trying to save their lives via health care. Right. And if they're not trying to treat the issues, they're trying to, I shouldn't say that they're not, they're not trying to prevent the sickness, they're trying to treat this problem. And I can't remember what the stat is, but there's something like if the GDP, if, if the, the United States continue to spend on health care at the same rate we're spending now will be bankrupt in 20 years. You know, it really, to me it doesn't feel like medicine is the answer. And if you think about how much money goes to finding the cure for cancer, you know, I've been hearing about it my whole life. You know, nobody still has found the cure.
Kyle Krull - 00:34:20
It's all about finding the treatment, you know, and instead to your point, Nick, if we can reinvest some of those dollars towards preventing sickness in the first place, I think it does a, a ton of incredible work for the populace. Uh, Mark Hyman talks about it in his book, Food Fix and how much human manpower potential we are wasting on having this sick populace and just think about the productivity of the country. If people were no longer sick, it's, it's incredible to think about that potential power.
Christian Ebersol - 00:35:00
Yeah, I mean, I think you've hit on it. I would just add Kyle that, you know, the canonical example we like to use often is if you look at, um, personal expenditures on a household level over time. Right around the time of World War two, the average us household spent about 17% of their money on food. Today, we're closer to 8%. The, where did that money go? It all went to health care for paying for the problems that our current food system are creating. And so so many people say like, oh, you'll never like the consumer, the food always gets cheaper. The consumer wants the food to be cheaper.
Christian Ebersol - 00:35:25
No, we don't see that we have some customers who are super wealthy and you're like, oh, they're only buying your food because you know, they can afford it plenty of customers who are not super wealthy who just they want to put more of their food dollars towards this type of food. And that's where this is grassroots and eventually tips the scales. Like one of the challenges to part of this is changing the incentive systems. Um The, the government has influence over through the farm bill. Well, you're looking at one farmer right here, Nick who he's not voting for more of those same subsidies and more and more of the farmers we work with aren't either. And as we grow and have more demand from consumers, then there are more and more farmers who are interested in a different system.
Christian Ebersol - 00:36:02
Um So I really think it's grassroots and it's coming at it from a variety of angles and the volume of listeners you have in this podcast and people like us shows that it's a growing movement,
Kyle Krull - 00:36:18
I think you spot on and that segues really nicely into, you know, if we're trying to grow consumer demand, you know, from the brand perspective, how are you all with, with your business model, primarily DTC? How are you effectively communicating and reaching that target audience? What sort of value propositions are you going after, you know, walk us through some of like the brand strategy and the growth strategy for how you're, you're communicating these value propositions to your customers.
Nick Wallace - 00:36:43
Yeah, I either you can go, you can go for, I mean, you're, you're pretty, you wax poetic first,
Christian Ebersol - 00:36:48
then you can, you can shed more light on it. I think. So. We, I mean, we've tried a variety of things and like, and what, what, what I mean by that is we've done a lot of digital performance marketing. So we've done some of the Facebook, some of the Instagram, some of the Google search, a search words. We've done some additional offline activities. We're out of some farmers markets here in Chicago. Um our deli. So when we do deliveries in Chicago and Iowa, we do it and our vans are branded um you know, there's a great marketing stat out there that the average consumer needs to see your brand seven times before they buy and it's helpful for them to take in both, you know, some kind of um uh real, real marketing heavy, you know, click to take action ads, but also some more educational of Nick in the field telling you what regenerative agriculture is. Um So we've tried to hit it both from a brand level and then a performance level. Uh I think what we're finding is just really authentic personal messages work the best. So 99 Counties today, we have two core products. We have a membership.
Christian Ebersol - 00:37:33
Um That was what we like launch first with which for $99 it used to be. We've now increased the pricing and there's still a lot of demand for it's now 1 99. Um But when we launched this a year ago, for $99 you can get free home delivery and 20% off all the products um with that commitment. Um And mostly from the former Wallace Farms community, we now have about 1300 people on that product. Um And since we recently expanded to be national, that product doesn't make sense nationally at that low price point. So we've increased it a bit. That product is still available, but we're really leaning into subscriptions.
Christian Ebersol - 00:38:10
Um because it is just a as much as members love us, they have to remember to order and there's a convenience and just kind of a better business model subscriptions. So we launched that a month ago, we're now up to like 100 and 35 subscribers um alongside the membership base Um And so anyway, the thing we found most effective is I would argue, we did these love letters, which is like a form of direct mail where literally, it's basically the story Nick told the origin story in a more shortened version. And then they were all addressed and signed individually by Nick. And we sent this out to, you know, a couple of 1000 people and that's where most of the current customers came from. Um And so there, there are other kind of more mass market channels we're working on now, like Nick is doing a lot of Instagram videos which he'll speak to kind of showing people like the impacts out in the field. Um So, you know, we've tried a mix of things, some of work, some haven't, but we're really finding like just being authentic um and connecting with people about the mission and particularly health when you survey our customers, the number one reason they buy from us, 55% is health like regenerative, you know, caring about that is more like 25%.
Christian Ebersol - 00:39:06
Um So I'll, I'll hand it over to Nick to, you know, tell you more about kind of what he's been working on.
Nick Wallace - 00:39:30
Yeah. No, you're, I mean, just, just um you know, me out in the past years or just talking about what's really going on. I mean, you, you, you always, I think I didn't quite do it as much with the launch. Maybe just because we're busy. But I didn't, you know, how much do you want to let people inside on? Not how the sausage is made, but in a way. Right. And I think people want that. I think we're moving into an age maybe because of the age of Aquarius. But I think people just want to know what, like, who, who people really are. Like, what, what are they, what, what are you really doing, Like right now?
Nick Wallace - 00:39:54
What are, you know, I'm, I'm looking at a cow right now who probably just gave birth and I'm seeing some, some, you know, uh, hawks and vultures type, you know, and I'm like, oh, there's probably after birth, you know, it's like I'm gonna, should go out and shoot that video, right? Because that's what people would want to know if they're not out here on the farm and they can't be, you give them a glimpse into it. Right. And the other thing is, and we didn't do this right away and I think that's why we didn't start with subscriptions because we thought, well, you know, Butcher Box, right? They're doing 5, 600 million and we don't, you know, we don't want to be another butcher box, but they're, they're successful for a reason, right? They're evoking that they have healthier meat, right? And that they are subscription, it's easy to set it, forget it.
Nick Wallace - 00:40:33
And they give you a little carrot, like some free bacon or salmon or whatever, sign up and then people get their products once a month and they kind of work their lives around that. So, um, we, we thought, you know, what do people really know what's going on in Butcher Box? I'm gonna pick on them a little bit. Right. I did that in a video. It's like butcher Box is importing their meat from Cape Grim in Tasmania and some other places they're working with larger uh certified organic but big confinements, right? Big big North Carolina Organic p houses that I might have millions of organic birds. Do people know that?
Nick Wallace - 00:41:06
Cause you know, people are probably thinking, oh, this is coming from small farms. I can assure you that they're not working with any small firms. And I, and I said that about the grocery stores. When you go into uh grocery stores, you're not, you're not gonna, you OK, maybe a few small brands from small producers. But for the most part, you're just, you're just buying corporate feedlot confinement type animals that are bringing you a very consistent product at a low price. So if you don't want that and here's the reasons and here's what that, what's, that's causing and that's just how we got here. How all of Iowa now is sprayed with chemicals. That is why.
Nick Wallace - 00:41:53
So your food dollar as cliche as it as it sounds, your food dollar matters. So if we can get enough people to realize that, yeah, I don't really want my meat to come from a barge from Australia or in, in a Canadian confinement, you know, antibiotic and hormone free, confined pig operation. Then I need somebody to tell me what's going on and why that, that, that is even happening. And so I think we're just gonna be a little more aggressive. Not so much Iowa. Nice. Right.
Nick Wallace - 00:42:27
Like, oh, I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings but it's like, no, we're just gonna give you, give it to you how it's really coming down. And I think that's a little bit of the pivot. We're made, we've made here in the last month or so and it's just parlaying with the subscriptions because when I was doing all these deliveries in Chicago and Iowa for all these years, even my best customers, I'd look at my gosh, they only ordered nine out of the 12 months or 10. You know, they'd miss a couple. So I called a few and I said, how could you know, like, how could I, how could I get you to order every month? They're like, oh, I really want to do, but I was out of town and I couldn't pick it up and, well, we just got busy. It wasn't that they didn't want the meat. It was just that their life got in the way.
Nick Wallace - 00:43:11
So there in lies, if you just ship it to them and they get to kind of pick and choose and curate it a little bit. They're happy and they work their lives around it and they're gonna eat the meat versus trying to make them come to you. And that's where the metropolitan buying clubs kind of failed. A little bit. Not failed. But I think other direct marketers that you may have talked to or would, uh, echo the same thing.
Nick Wallace - 00:43:33
You don't have time to do the farming and go to the soccer and the baseball games and worry about the cold chain. Uh, what, what's my butcher doing? Is he getting it right? How am I gonna get it from his place to the freezer? Who's gonna pack the orders and who's going to deliver them? Right? All of that hard stuff's in the middle. And that was one of the reasons why we started in 99 Counties.
Nick Wallace - 00:43:56
How can a farmer do all of that and then enjoy a sunset with his spouse, his or her spouse and have a beer and then watch the kids play and you can't do all of that. You can get to a certain point, but then you're gonna hit a ceiling and then eventually what you're gonna do is you're gonna burn out and I did that for 20 years and I think I was just like, I can't do this anymore. I need somebody to help me in the middle, but I still need, I still need to sell my animals at the gate for a better price, I can't go commodity because I'm not big enough. So that, that's essentially what 99 Counties is doing. We're, we're trying to give farmers a, a lifeline and, and a way of life by honoring their work and honoring the animals through the process and creating awesome sausages and products in the middle. And we're trying to get it to people at a, at a somewhat fair price.
Nick Wallace - 00:44:42
You know, so that, that's, you know, kind of the essence of why, why I wanted to build that is because I knew that there was a hundreds of other farmers or there was gonna be 100 other farmers that were gonna try to try to solve for that. So I'm like, well, let's just do that. So,
Anthony Corsaro - 00:45:18
yeah, we've heard, we've heard that many times and I've heard it in so many conversations I've had in the space. It's like we're putting all the financial risk on farmers and then we're also asking them to be brands and marketers and processors and all the things and like something's gotta give somewhere and like in some places and in some scale that might work and there's different versions of that and all that. Um and
Nick Wallace - 00:45:37
John John Kemp, yeah, I think John Kemp paraphrased that maybe, maybe it was on your podcast. Yeah. Yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:45:44
Um one comment and then a couple of questions. So you're good. Um You know that like visceral unveiling of the truth I think is needed at this point. Like I, I really do think we need that and like, I can just speak for one thing that stands out in my mind is like Smithfield pork, seeing the video of the person, like the guy in the plant exposing that they're literally grinding up like plastic and cardboard and feeding that to the pigs. And when I do go out to like a mainstream restaurant, I'm gonna order bacon. Like I pause and like, yes, I'm a human and sometimes I still want the bacon and I order it, but like it used to be 100% and now it's significantly less than that because I'm thinking like shit, this, this pig ate like ground up white bread packaging, right? That it was fed and like the video went viral on tiktok. And so there's different levels of that. But like, I do think that's gonna be rather important for us to I think expose like what, what is actually going on mainstream versus what the folks like y'all are doing.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:46:27
Um You know, there's two, there's two piece pieces of curiosity I think would be very interesting to the audience. One is probably a little simpler and one's a little more complex and it's a, as a business, you know, we have so many retail focused brands on here, you know, as a business you're talking about the sticks, we know you're selling all these awesome whole animal cut cuts. We know there's this whole carcass utilization component, like how does product development play into your long-term strategy? Right? Um And then really as the aggregator, as the, as the brand, as the uh the person may be taking advantage of or, or being responsible for the process, like I'd love if you all can give a little more B to B kind of context on like what all that goes into managing, you know, the timing of the slaughter of the animals, managing shelf life, managing whole car utilization, managing shipping and and probably the inflation, you know, the inflationary environment there. So really just would love to hear you all talk about product development strategy and really like the back and guts of the business and how that affects how you go to market, how you interact with the customer.
Christian Ebersol - 00:47:40
I, I'll go with 11 quick really important thing and, and then I'll let Nick take over um in, in a whole animal carcass utilization model and I'll, you know, for the rest of the audience talk about that, right? So a lot of the other meat market places or like places you're gonna buy a steak or a meat subscription from, they're buying from a farmer widgets of what they need like, oh, I have this much demand for rib eyes and they buy this many ribbons from a farmer and then sell it. We don't do that because that is exactly part of the problem where the farmer then literally because what's in more high demand or stakes has to find a home for all this ground beef and can't get it at a high enough price. And like that's why this whole model breaks. And so, you know, one of the biggest challenges for businesses like ours. So when we, we contract directly with farmers, we buy the whole cow, we buy the whole pig, we buy the whole chicken, et cetera. And then it's on us to create value added products and, you know, make sure that we make a sustainable margin out of that.
Christian Ebersol - 00:48:28
Um The thing that, that typically kills companies in the trying to do what we're trying to do is not being able to find a home for enough of the ground beef, for example, at a high enough price point. Um And that's one of the great secrets to the business is Nick's creative genius around the sticks product. And that's why we have that product a lot. You know, you could argue they're kind of two different businesses, but we really think they augment each other because eventually the sticks can be omni channel and kind of create brand awareness for the direct to consumer product. Um But we have this incredible um grassfed grass finished beef, completely sugar free beef stick and a hot honey pork and a honey pork. And they are, and we don't think anyone else is doing a hot honey pork and this is like, you know, Nick's next greatest hit and those really help us from a carcass utilization standpoint. So I think that's a, a pretty key part of it.
Anthony Corsaro - 00:49:25
Uh What comes to mind too, Christian for me is like coming from the distribution space, your best customer is your current customer. So if you're already sending something there and you have a distribution cost, that's X and you're sending them X amount of product adding to that is your most profitable new business, right? Because you're just making the business, you have more profitable. And so you can only eat so many robots, like you can only cook so much ground beef. And so when I think about increasing basket size, if I'm y'all like, that's the best lever you got is like snacks, sticks on the go versus having to cook the ground beef or whatever that you know, might be.
Nick Wallace - 00:49:57
Let me blow up like let me give you the perfect world. If I, if I had the right, if I had an investor, that really got it right. We're in it, we're in, in it for the long haul, you take the animal, right? You have key processors, you first you got to hide. There's no reason we shouldn't have artists out there making leather goods and that's starting to happen, right? I mean, I think Jim Kleinschmidt and you know, like Timberland, I mean, there's, there's people that are working on that right? Then you have the bones that, uh, people might make their own. But I would create a, actually almost a nonprofit. Like, we have so many chicken backs. Right. Everybody loves chicken breasts and thighs. But you have chicken backs.
Nick Wallace - 00:50:25
Um, I would love to have a little bit of fuel to do a nonprofit where we're actually feeding people in need bone broth and soups from bone broth. Right. That, that is low hanging fruit. And that is a win-win. Then you have all the little tendons and the weird parts that is either dehydrated or ground up for pets. We know how much people spend on their pets, right.
Nick Wallace - 00:50:51
You're value adding that and then the rest is cut, the steaks aren't hard to sell and the roast and we can work all into these value added products. But like you said, you could have an awesome lineup of cured sticks and summer sausage and Land Jagger and all these, you know, jerky and belton that could go out into Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and all these places that we could still make enough of a margin and have it be a volume game. But all the other stuff would maybe be sold directly to through DDD to C. So I see you can jump in and out of both of those, but there is a pathway to utilize the whole animal. Let people know what you're doing with that whole animal and wouldn't people want to support when they're in Whole Foods vs because they're gonna pick up salt and oils and whatever else that they can't get from their farmer. They could buy their snack sticks there or they put it on a subscription or they buy summer sausage or whatever great products. We can partner with our, with our, um, provisions people.
Nick Wallace - 00:51:53
But, um, wouldn't they want to be, spend, you know, 10 bucks a month too, uh, to feed kids and schools with, like, real food. Have you ever looked into school lunch programs? I mean, so anyway, I dream about these things but it's like, you know, it just takes time and money. Right. But,
Christian Ebersol - 00:52:20
mhm. Well, and I'll just, I just want to add to that, like all the things Nick described, you know, you guys have probably seen the listeners may have seen these great stats when people are like, oh, you know, animal agriculture is, you know, so terrible. Well, today, even in the commodity system, everything gets used. I mean, it's very efficient. Every single component of animals gets used. The problem is today in the commodity system where you have 40 beef processing plants in the US processing 90% of the volume of the animals. It, it's all in a commoditized system where the farmer gets completely lost and that's why there's no like interest in, like, how exactly was the farmer raising these animals? And that's why there's no premium paid for it.
Christian Ebersol - 00:52:49
Um, and so we're, you know, to be clear, like the the commoditized system does do a good job of realizing value out of these products, but you have no idea where that hide ended up and there's no like honoring of the story and no interest in it. And so when we sell our product and this is like an evolution, the package as much as we can contains the ca or the name of the farmer where it came from. And eventually we want a bar code where you can like see a video of Nick talking to you. Um And it's an evolution, but that's really like we see ourselves as um it's an interesting dichotomy because so many people want to think they can buy just from the one farmer. And that's what Nick was speaking to earlier. We're like, that's not sustainable for the one farmer.
Christian Ebersol - 00:53:25
You know, as I did that road trip in the past and tried to figure out what business to build time and time again, farmers would say to me, I would love to do regenerative agriculture. Someone just has to pay me enough. Um And so we view it as our job to take the risk of paying more 99 Counties, paying more to the farmers we work with for, for doing things in a regenerative fashion and then telling that story to the customer such that the customer can pay a slight premium to make that whole system viable.
Kyle Krull - 00:54:03
I think you're spot on and I wanna go macro and then drill down to a specific question. And I think that right now, culturally in the United States, there are a few different things happening at the same time. One is like the decom commercialization of food in general. Think back 10 years ago where Cheesecake Factory Starbucks, these massive chains were like the leaders in their industries. And I think we're starting to see more of a resurgence and more support towards independent regenerative restaurants, right? And so that, that's like part one, part two that leads to like the dec commoditization of many things, including the meat and the systems that you just identified really well, Christian. And that leads to like a third part of this process like the decentralization of food and it requires consumers. It's a lot more time, energy bandwidth to try to understand. OK, like if I'm not gonna trust whoever whole foods, you know, meat case butcher to say my meat is good enough. I then have to understand who I'm buying from what their unique value proposition is, et cetera. And part of the puzzle here is certifications or verifications.
Kyle Krull - 00:54:52
So in lieu of having to go through, I understand, you know, every single farm, every, every single thing I purchased from all these direct farmers that takes a lot of time and bandwidth for the for the consumer. The certification serves as a, you know, this certification is good enough for me I can buy anything with this cert. So you guys are in kind of a unique position right now because you do so much direct business with your consumers. I feel like the certifications are probably not critically important right now. But as we talk about the future and the meat stakes and whole foods and retail, et cetera, how are you guys feeling about the certification space today? Are there any service that you think are doing really great? Um Is that something that's potentially on the horizon in your future? What do you think?
Christian Ebersol - 00:55:51
I'll go first to let you go, Nick. Um The
Anthony Corsaro - 00:55:54
shit eating grin on Nick's face. Oh, I can't wait.
Nick Wallace - 00:55:57
Well, I think
Christian Ebersol - 00:55:58
we, we've historically been self certified and yeah, we found like we, we did a bunch of surveying of customers and they just more like when we started this thing and a lot of them were just like, look, I, I trust Nick and I like that's all kind of, I need. Um I think as you, the certifications really make sense in retail because of the fact that in retail, you generally don't know where it's coming from. And so that's like, you know, they, they transfer that credibility theoretically. Um And I think just briefly like what we've done, you know, I just saw a post by, I think it's Paul Lightfoot at Patagonia who's a really impressive individual about how much the Roc Regina Bar certification is growing that boggles our minds because every farmer we talk to is like, you know, ads too hard can't do. It doesn't make sense. And, you know, that always makes me want to do it. I thought we should do that.
Christian Ebersol - 00:56:42
But I think, and, and you guys may have more, uh, a point of view on this, but as I understand it, the RFC is re really, hasn't made much traction in livestock. I've seen a little bit of it in and around eggs and stuff, but really, I don't think it caters well to livestock and that's the feedback we get from farmers. Um And so we've actually recently joined the savory program and land to market. Um And we think they have the best holistic way of doing ecological outcome verifications. And on one of your guys podcasts recently made a good point, like what does eov mean to the average consumer fair point? What it means for us is eventually we hope to direct a consumer value a and have a home for our hides, for example.
Christian Ebersol - 00:57:19
But like we're not, I mean, you know, Nick can get real excited and probably come up with a like leather boot company in a day because that's a bridge too far for us today. So if we can have that certification that allows us to have access to a channel that allows us to get more value for the whole carcass utilization. So that's why we've decided to go the route we've gone. Uh But, you know, Nick, Nick's dealt really dealt with this for a much longer time and directly as a farmer. So, you know,
Nick Wallace - 00:57:52
the was more like you just see so much green washing, you know, and it's just like, again, not being authentic. Um, and kind of getting out flanked. I mean, the reason we chose, well, we're just starting the path, literally literally just starting with land to market and savory because how do you not watch all savory's ted talk from 10 years ago and have your entire brain explode that? Like, why don't we just do that right now? Do they need more fuel and more ambassadors? And you know, I, like, I wish I could go on their team and run, you know, and just be like, preach it. So I don't know if they need to set up at every farmer's market and tell because nobody knows, right? Like they only have so much time and resources and budget, but it's like, and is regenerative. Like, I don't know. Is that the best word?
Nick Wallace - 00:58:32
Maybe it's what we have. It's, it's like, what else are you gonna call it organic? You can't call it organic toast. I mean, it's, it is what it is. All right. Like I'm still gonna get an organic tortilla chip because I have trust it.
Nick Wallace - 00:58:45
But again, it is, it's like trust and authenticity. And I'm also, I mean, I, I'm not naive enough to think that when 99 Counties becomes, uh, to a certain point, like, are we, could we be not corruptible? But, you know, how, how do we know we're doing what we're saying? And we're, and we're actually following through. So there does have to be a third party. But, you know, like I've followed Rodell. I love what Rodell does. I mean, slaying the market and savory is great.
Nick Wallace - 00:59:14
Um, I just feel like, uh I just, somebody needs to catch a break or we all just need to, to that. I think this is the messy metal. I don't have an answer. I'm probably just gonna sputter around in circles. But um, we just have to have a clear message to the people and, and, and I don't know if it's Super Bowl ads or what, but we need to just have people understand we're, we're trying to make the soil better and the soil is about gone here folks. It's dirt, right? Like 50 years of blasting this and extracting is a problem and that's why we have 49 out of 50 in Iowa for cancer. So I don't know if I answered the question or just created more questions.
Nick Wallace - 00:59:57
Kyle Krull - 01:00:13
Nick, man, I, I love the way your brain works, man. And the way you talk, you know, you're, you're a dreamer. Uh I love the Super Bowl commercials. I love James Earl Jones narrating something. Uh You know, I think it's, I think it's awesome and I think it's the, the sputtering may seem like sputtering. But to me it's the perfect answer in the fact that it's so confusing and difficult right now to decide for a brand to your point. You know, eov is fantastic for verifying that the practices are good that you're actually making positive improvements over time. Do the consumers really understand it today? No. Will that change over time? Hopefully?
Kyle Krull - 01:00:35
You know, and that, that change won't happen unless more people who are doing the right things start to buy into that system. Um So I just want to comment on that. Um ac I feel like I keep hogging the mic, I feel like you got a question prime to go for it, man.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:01:00
No, you're good, man. Um It comes back to something we've talked about a lot on the show which is just we're not turning regenerative claims into consumer facing purchasing triggers. That's it. That's the whole, that's the whole problem. We've designed the entire system around A B to B perspective to all feel good about being regenerative enough and, you know, crossing our Ts and dot Our I's, but at the end of the day, the consumer walks into the grocery store and we have to design for that experience and the purchasing triggers and the psychology of that. Um So, and I are working on something there. Uh um But, you know, that's, you know, that's the larger issue. Um And so I think that leads into a good question around like as y'all look to grow this thing, like what, what really moves the needle, like what you've mentioned some marketing strategies we've talked about working with the farmers, but like, what is the path to growth really look like? And what are those key unlocks? Like, talk to us there?
Nick Wallace - 01:01:57
Well, on the one point on, I'm
Anthony Corsaro - 01:01:59
sure it's, I'm sure it's a chicken and egg thing, not a chicken or egg thing. So I'm sure it's a long list. Well, just
Nick Wallace - 01:02:04
to put a no, no, no, just to put a period on this last thought though. It's like it's confusing because I don't know when this is gonna air but you know, we're trying to figure out like, do I, should I go out to RF SI and what would I, what would I say? And who would I say it to like? Is that, is that who I should be speaking with or talking to? I mean, I know that's the fuel, that's the cash, that's the, the energy. But you know, does that move the needle with consumers? Um So anyway, I just like how, how many other people are feeling that in this space?
Nick Wallace - 01:02:33
Like as far as a farmer, but also as the, the marketer and the, the business in the middle of this like, uh you know, is that gonna, am I gonna have the right audience to, to grab that fuel to come home to, to do more of this. So anyway, I just wanted to, yeah, go ahead and get
Anthony Corsaro - 01:02:56
it. Should I just respond to that really, really quick? I think it's the right question and it's a super fair question. And I think a lot of people feel that way. And what I see in my lived experience as an investor in the space is we are just as capital constrained and as constrained generally as the operators we're trying to fund. So it's really not a question of want to and why it's that, especially as a professional fund manager and especially as an emerging manager, you are very beholden to certain standard operating procedures, metrics, et cetera and you have to earn the right to innovate in terms of how you operate. And unfortunately, we don't have time for that, but that is the way that system works. That isn't, that isn't true for everyone. You know, more of your family office type investors have a lot more flexibility and there's a lot of really cool innovative work being done, but like the the entire ecosystem is still incredibly underfunded. Um And that's
Nick Wallace - 01:03:48
no, I, I appreciate it and I'm glad I, you know, said something to have you clarify that too. Um You know, where do we, where do we see ourselves going? I mean, I still, I still, it's still so simple in my mind and I romanticize it probably too much and then, you know, life beats me up on it. But is it just simply creating a movement of people throwing a subscription of snack sticks worth 100 bucks or, or, or a $200 meat a month in their cart and just having it show up and when that 99 Counties box or bag shows up on their door there, it's not just like, oh, well, that's my, you know, razors or my whatever the hell else they get right. That box shows up and they go, those guys are help. I'm, I'm helping those guys change agriculture. Like we, we're a sick nation and that's my part. I'm just like, and I, when I open the box, I'm always like happy like there's always something in that box that's gonna nourish this family and it comes down to energy, right?
Nick Wallace - 01:04:51
Like that they, they gave me their energy that it just happened to be in the form of a of a digit, right? It used to be cash. But now we're just digits like that energy to us and is pat, you know, we take our little bit in the middle to keep going and then we pass that energy to the farmer, the farmer is giving all of that energy to his land, his or her land. And then that energy is like, right, the cycle of it. And to me, I don't think about it as money anymore. It's about energy. And so I want people when that box shows up on their doorstep that they, they, they, they are proud, they feel great.
Nick Wallace - 01:05:23
Now, can we do that? You know, do we just keep beating the drum and that keeps happening? Could we catch a little lightning in the bottle with a, with a the right ad or the right, you know, the right media company or the investors? Like, oh, we can, we can create that like, you know, we can do a song um that, that create, you know, like, uh he's a native Hawaiian guy that did um did a song that I'll send it to you. That, that had people like passing the um this like sign that says change, you know, making change or something. It was like, it was a cool viral video and I thought, you know, you never know when you're gonna, your little little match is gonna start a fire. Right.
Nick Wallace - 01:06:02
So I think we're close. I mean, I, I keep pressing that like, what's it gonna be? Um And maybe you can't force it but I think, I think it, I think if you just build the right vehicle and you're ready for that moment, then, then, you know, then, then it can happen. Right. Right. What, what is it saying about you're not lucky, you need some luck but you have to be prepared or in the right place for when it, when luck finds you, I'm butchering that.
Kyle Krull - 01:06:44
Christian Ebersol - 01:06:45
hard working. So I wanted to say, which is, that's you guys are. This is like, this is my, my, my wavelength. We're here. Say it again, Kyle. And I'll
Kyle Krull - 01:06:53
stay with luck is where hard work meets opportunity.
Christian Ebersol - 01:06:58
So I used to, uh, my first job out of college, I worked at an investment bank. I've been a history major, had literally no idea what I was doing. Um, and I used to have this quote on a sticky note on my computer and it was from Michael Bloomberg and it was something like, I don't remember it. Exactly. But it's like the harder you work, the luckier you get. Right. It's like hard work is luck is hard work sweat at something or other anyway. Long story short, it was like, hey, if you're there first now the office lasts like you just more, you have more exposure to luck finding you.
Christian Ebersol - 01:07:15
And so like how I would tie that back to what we're doing is working hard and trying new things. Um But we are growing not as fast as we want to, but each new initiative we try brings more opportunity and like, you've got to create a fantastic customer experience so that those customers refer, refer more people. We have incredible products. I mean, we have like 100 skew s and, and you know, I have the privilege, all of our employees. We get some free me every month, we have some like ground pork products that will just like literally blow your brain. And some and I like had the first one for the first time recently.
Christian Ebersol - 01:07:58
And so we have all these amazing products and it's just people tasting them and then having a good customer experience, if you have an issue with your order, it's Nick's sister, literally who is customer service, who's very Iowa nice and you know, who will deal with you, who will help you out? And I just give you an example of like the hard work required to, to luck here and to do better. My uncle placed an order. Um He's in Connecticut. We recently expanded nationally because we love the local milkman style deliveries. We do.
Christian Ebersol - 01:08:16
But our number one initiative is to change the acres and have more of the land and more of the people be regenerated, regenerated. And so if that means being national, that makes more sense, right? Because more demand. My uncle got a skirt steak and ended up sending me a message like, hey, this was a little tough like, you know, maybe I should marinade at first and I was like, oh my God, our skirt steak is my favorite product. It's in my fridge right now in my favorite marinade. And if you do my favorite marinade and the right chippy cherry with it, there's literally nothing better in this world. But I why on earth didn't we have that recipe with it or like let him know that.
Christian Ebersol - 01:08:51
And so like those are the little things that we have to keep working harder on to do better. Um so that we can continue to grow and have more opportunities to get lucky.
Kyle Krull - 01:09:14
I love it. And the proof in the pudding, you know, you talked about something earlier, you know, the direct mailer marketing really caught my, my attention. It resonated with me because that's not something that people do anymore. So you really are trying new things and building that authentic experience to gain customer acquisition. And I think that's something that's out of all the CPG brands I've worked for or with, I've never heard of somebody doing a handwritten direct mailer um for customer acquisition, you know, and it seems to be super like it works, right? Um So it's really interesting also just before we, we wrap, I wanna touch on one other thing. Um Nick, I think you mentioned earlier like a unified voice around the agenda movement. Um What ac and I talk about a lot on a lot of different episodes is what those value propositions should be. And Kristen, you mentioned it earlier, I think you said 55% of your consumers purchase 99 Counties products because of the health benefits, correct?
Kyle Krull - 01:09:51
And this is something I think that the regenerative movement needs to coalesce around right now. There's regenerative, it's blessing and curse is the fact that there are so many different marketable, marketable attributes Right. There's reducing carbon dead zones, there's carbon sequestration, there's, you know, water retention rates, there's coin the planet. There's so many different things improving by. But the thing consumers care about the most is themselves. And if we as a movement can start with that value proposition first, I think that's how we call us around a unified message. And that's what should be out in the Super Bowl like that's the ad, you know.
Kyle Krull - 01:10:26
Christian Ebersol - 01:10:37
we, we, you, we, we listened to prep for this Nick and I to the singing pastors episode from a few weeks ago and one of the founders, there was saying how she has learned to say, you know, that the value prop is this and this and then just stop talking and we struggle with that because I always want to be like, this is a 10 do double bottom line business. Like we're better for your health, we're better for the land, we're better for the communities, we're better for the ant like just stop but it's, it's hard not to because there are so many benefits, you
Kyle Krull - 01:11:05
know, when you're a Regen nerd, you're a nerd, you know, you can't stop talking about it. Um I think it's sort of like being like a cross fitter or a vegan. You know, it's like, how do you know somebody who's in the crossfit vegan? I can tell you um same thing with reg, you know, like we, we can't shut up about it.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:11:19
Yeah. And I, I think it's like that top of funnel customer interaction we need to improve, but I still am so bullish on the product and the eating experience should be so much better and the person should feel so much better that your repeat purchase percentage should be way higher than conventional peers, right? Um And not getting paid to say this like this is just a straight up true anecdote. My buddy Eric, he lives in Lincoln Park. He's a relatively new 99 Counties customer, sends me a voice note right after he starts. He's like, bro, best bacon I've ever had. I can't wait to buy my Thanksgiving in Turkey. My whole family is coming to town. We're gonna crush a 99 Counties bird for Thanksgiving. And it's just like, you know, he's, he's really in the region and he gets it and he's very into health. Right.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:11:52
So, he's like the perfect target consumer but unprompted. Hit me up just to evangelize and be like, hey, such an amazing eating experience. Like I'm in, right. And like the, the retention rate and the lifetime value of that person now is just gonna be astronomically higher, I think, than, than a lot of your, you know, competitive set. It's just, how do you get those people in the door? How do you get the bacon in their mouth? Right. Like that's the, that's the trick.
Nick Wallace - 01:12:27
Only a matter of time.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:12:30
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Ok. Last, last question that we, that we take it home with every time, which I think we've been answering this question the whole time, but I'll just use it as the table setter for, for kind of closing thoughts. Um, what are we gonna have to do to have Regen brands have 50% market share by 2050
Nick Wallace - 01:12:48
Anthony Corsaro - 01:12:50
So really like all food, 50% of all food be regenerative by 2050.
Christian Ebersol - 01:12:54
I'll go first and then you go, Nick minds really quick. Everyone listening to this sign up for 99 Counties today. You are supporting small farmers in Iowa. You are changing the world. You can, I mean, you can see so many videos of what we're actually doing and Nick is right there, boots on the ground. So we've got the meat sticks, we've got the meat subscription bundles just come to us and join the movement. So that's what I would say. Your turn.
Nick Wallace - 01:13:18
Can I ask a question with a question, answer a question with a question? Does it, does the answer have to rely on politicians and people at the FDA USDA and EPA,
Anthony Corsaro - 01:13:29
there's no right or wrong answer, brother, whatever, whatever.
Nick Wallace - 01:13:33
Let's just reform. Well, if we can reform that, it'd be easier to get to 2050. Um, I'll give you a really simple one and I don't know, we're gonna have a four split screen but will people be able to see this? Maybe um People are listening. OK. I'm gonna describe this right? Cause that cause people OK. So it's, I'm up in my loft here. This is actually where I started on December 21st, the first day of a Aquarius. I did that video that Christian saw and I add spec specifically put it out at that date and time because the I knew the ripple effect would be the most. But this photo I'm showing is one that I took shortly thereafter that it's in May.
Nick Wallace - 01:14:00
It's on my farm. My farm is on the right. My neighbors is on the left in May and it's my farm has everything growing. I have a border with like legumes, grasses, flowers starting all of that. And then I have an oat field that's growing with clover in it also. And on the others is a field that used to be in beans and it's going to corn and it's dead as a doorknob and nothing's growing in May.
Nick Wallace - 01:14:31
And when I was driving on my farm, I stopped and that hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes because I will say we, we have to pick a side. You have got, you, you have to pick a side. Where are they gonna do? As Gaber Brown said, you either wake up in the morning and we're gonna figure out what we're gonna make, live and thrive and be more beautiful and nourish us or you're gonna pick a side and say what am I gonna kill today? And in the region movement, we know that there are alternative views about killing things with herbicide just because we need a cover crop. And so yeah, so it, I would just say we, if we, if we all pick a side today, we'll get there before 2050.
Nick Wallace - 01:15:18
Kyle Krull - 01:15:39
mm I love that. Pick a side comment with the uh the photo attached to it. That's uh that was powerful. Um Wanna make sure that anybody listening knows where to find your product. That's the number nine, the number nine counties dot com. Is that correct? Yep. Cool. 99 Counties dot com. I for one after a CS testimonial. Um I didn't even think about Thanksgiving Bird, but I will absolutely be buying a 99 county Turkey for Thanksgiving this year. Super pumped about that. Um Thank you guys so much for being on the pod. I really enjoyed this episode. Um I love all the work you guys are doing in Iowa, man. Really, really great stuff.
Nick Wallace - 01:16:12
Can't thank you guys enough. I mean, every conversation we can have. I think we just, we, we added energy that we needed today. That's the important thing.
Anthony Corsaro - 01:16:23
Absolutely. Thanks fellas. Yeah, thanks a lot. Appreciate
Nick Wallace - 01:16:27
you be. Well
Anthony Corsaro - 01:16:31
for show notes, episode transcripts and more information on our guests and what we discuss on the show. Check out our website regen-brands.com. That is regen-brands.com. You can also find our Regen recaps on the website. Regen recaps. Take less than five minutes to read and cover all the key points of the full hour long conversations. You can check out our youtube channel Regen brands podcast for all of our episodes with both video and audio. The best way to support our work is to give us a five star rating on your favorite podcast platform. Subscribe to future episodes and share the show with your friends. Thanks for tuning in to The ReGen Brands Podcast brought to you by the Regen Coalition and Outlaw Ventures. We hope you learn something new in this episode and it empowers you to use your voice, your time and your dollars to help us build a better and more regenerative food system. Love you guys.