How a Graduate School Thesis Turned into a Mission-Driven Business

How a Graduate School Thesis Turned into a Mission-Driven Business

  • Drae Solberg
  • Drae Solberg

We are overjoyed to introduce JOI as one of our eight 2022 ChooseVeg partners! JOI, which stands for “just one ingredient,” is developing innovative plant-milk concentrates and “giving cows their lives back” in the process.

The idea for this unique product started as a graduate thesis project and evolved quickly when co-founder Tony Jimenez and his colleagues saw the potential for their mission-driven company to completely transform the dairy industry. One small, 15-ounce container of JOI almond base can make seven quarts of milk! With a concentrated plant-based formula, JOI reduces packaging, food waste, and their carbon footprint, creating a tasty product that is better for the planet, people, and animals.

Hear from Tony Jimenez about how the team embraces diversity, and get tips and tricks for spreading JOI through great recipes.

How did a graduate school thesis evolve into a full-blown business with a lofty mission to reimagine food?

Shared passion for a more sustainable world, aligned values, and the belief in a plant-based future allowed us to give birth to a new alternative dairy paradigm. 

What do you love most about JOI?

It’s giving cows their lives back while we’re making humans healthier, all while we build the most sustainable plant-based-milk brand in the world.

The JOI family is a diverse group of people. Have your identities influenced your strategy and success as you disrupt the milk market?

We are really proud of our team’s diversity across all different metrics, from life experiences to personal identities. Every step of our journey has benefited from being open to the unique viewpoints each person on the team can contribute. This diversity lends itself to dynamic conversations, ideations, and processes. The openness with which we can share our thoughts makes for a rich process that usually results in interesting, creative ideas and solutions.  

What is your favorite JOI product, and what’s the best use for it (i.e., your favorite food or drink to use it in)?

My favorite JOI product is the cashew base. Every morning I use it in my smoothie—I don’t have to make milk ahead; I just add JOI and water to my blender along with my other smoothie ingredients, and I make fresh cashew milk as I blend up my smoothie! I also really love adding the cashew base to soups to make them creamy, or I use it to make delicious dessert truffles.

How do you relate to JOI’s environment- and health-conscious mission? 

I have five children and nothing makes me work harder than to live by this mission so that the people I love most in this world are as healthy as they can be while also making sure that we become the best custodians of our home, Mother Earth.

Your website mentions that “the way we nourish our bodies is one of the few things we do have power over.” What suggestions do you have for those considering nourishing themselves through plant-based eating?

  1. At least give it a try! Take it a day at a time—even small steps, like doing a “Meatless Monday” or “Vegan Before 6,” can have a real impact on your body and our environment.   
  2. Set yourself up for success—plan ahead so that you meet whatever your goals are. Find resources online to help you. We love and books by Marco Borges.
  3. Be sure you take into account basic nutritional needs, like getting enough B-12.

Looking for milk that has a positive impact on you, cows, and the environment? Add some JOI to your life and cross dairy off your grocery list by ordering JOI’s delicious plant-milk concentrates. When you receive your order, check out JOI’s Instagram page for their favorite recipes using their concentrates. And make sure to follow Mercy For Animals on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more updates on our ChooseVeg partners!

In 2021, our ChooseVeg Partners program spotlighted seven Black-owned businesses that are disrupting the food system, building influential brands, and producing delicious vegan foods. This year, we are featuring founders who are queer, Black, Latinx, and Asian American and Pacific Islander to celebrate the powerful impact these communities are making for farmed animals through innovative vegan foods. Keep an eye out for “behind the brand” interviews and tasty food giveaways with our 2022 ChooseVeg partners, like JOI!