Ara Katz, Co-Founder + Co-CEO of Seed Health is a woman on a probiotic mission, having created the brand to disrupt the global probiotic market with scientifically studied, state of the art probiotics. Quarantined in LA, she spoke to 35 Thousand about her passion for her work, her bitter-sweet experiences of the Corona crisis and her WFH lifesavers.
Describe yourself in 3 words
Dot-connecting, creative and persistent
Tell us about your work…
“At Seed, our mission is to realize the potential of microbes to impact human and environmental health.
We develop scientifically-studied, next-generation probiotics with a mission to bring much-needed precision, efficacy, and education to the global probiotics market. Our environmental R+D division, SeedLabs, develops novel applications for bacteria to solve some of our most pressing ecological challenges. We’re disrupting the BS in the $50B global probiotics market and stewarding the future of how we will use bacteria to restore and sustain human (think: gut, skin, oral, vaginal, and more) and planetary (think: honey bees, soil, water, food supply, plastics crisis, and space) health with serious science.”
Do you work in the spare room, a skyscraper or other?
“While we’re quarantined, my guest house in Venice, LA.”
What parts of your work give you energy?
“Creating with our internal team and ecosystem of collaborators.”
What parts of your work drain you?
“Compressed periods of meetings and email that compromise deep work.”
Most pivotal point of your career so far?
“Co-founding Seed with my co-founder, Raja Dhir.”
Best piece of advice you received that you now pass on to others…
“She didn’t always follow the recipe”
What’s your context outside of work – do you have family, other people counting on you, pets, hobbies, external commitments?
“A precocious 5 year old, a fellow start-up founder husband, hiking, and the entire team, community and ecosystem at Seed.”
Describe your pre-pandemic day-to-day…
“Up at 5:30am. A Venice neighbourhood walk to a coffee shop for a matcha with my son around 6:45am. A walk to the office a few blocks away around 7:45am. Meetings (many walking ones), calls and work until 6pm. Home or out for dinner date with my son and husband in Venice. Work 8pm – 11pm (likely later if I’m telling the full truth). Yoga and working out sprinkled in between. Rinse. Repeat.”
Has the Corona crisis impacted you personally and professionally? How?
“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been impacted in some way. It has been a spotlight on the disparities in our society, the failure of our systems (at the scale of government and in our own lives) and true test of our resilience.
It has been bittersweet; there’s been more time than I ever would have had with my son, a true test of my partnership at home and at Seed, the inception of a nature-based school program and a greater than ever conviction for our mission.”
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
“I am not kept up at night, but I do wake up thinking about the problems that need solving – a design challenge, a role that needs to be filled, a strategy shift that needs to be devised.”
What have been your 2020 coping strategies? Do you have any objects, routines or tools that you found particularly uplifting?
“The combination of increased work time and being alone and with my son has felt deeply fulfilling (despite the logistical challenges). While Zoom fatigue is real, I am endlessly energized by the work we do and the way we navigate challenges.
Spending time in nature and exercise are longstanding routines that have become even more meaningful this past year.”
What has kept you sane? And kept your family sane?
“Nature, FaceTime and StarWars.”
How has 2020 changed your outlook on life?
“I would say it made me want to live in more alignment with my outlook on life. It was a great reminder of what I value, care about and want to change about the world in whatever small way I can.”
Are you travel ready? Where do you want to go, with who or would you rather stay home?
“When it’s safe to do so, travel is always the choice. It’s one of my favourite things to do.”
Finish this sentence “Currently stashed in my handbag is…’
“’Currently stashed in my handbag’ is something I would never say because I only wear backpacks. 🙂
“Currently stashed in my handbag is my Seed DS-01 Travel Vial :)”
“Currently stashed in my handbag is the latest book I’m reading.”
“Currently stashed in my handbag are the rocks my son finds on his nature school hikes.”
What are your WFH saviours? (routines/ products/ coffee/ music?)
“A yoga mat, wood-burning fireplace, meditation, books, Lego for days, Matcha, Spotify, time with my son, and the AllTrails app.”
Describe your style?
Name your 5 essential items of clothing
“Lauren Manoogian long cardigan coat.
High compression socks.”
How do you see your business in two years from now?
“Living up to our vision to pioneer microbial applications to impact human and environmental health.”
What’s your go to mantra or life motto?
“She didn’t always follow the recipe.”
This quote was printed on a small wooden pin my mom gave me just before she passed away when I was 16 and I have had mounted to a small piece of wood and hung in my bedroom.”
If you loved reading about Ara then grab a cup of tea, kick back and read the rest of our How She Carries On series here