A Founder’s Story with The CEO And Co-founder Of Uncaged Innovations, Stephanie Downs

IBH Media
2 min readOct 24, 2022

Stephanie Downs is the co-founder of the revolutionary biomaterials company, Uncaged Innovations. She has over 20 years of experience creating, building, and selling businesses in various industries. Some of today’s top-tier media outlets covered Stephanie and Uncaged Innovations, such as FastCompany.com and Buzzfeed.com. She also received multiple awards, including the 40 Under 40 Award in two states, the Dewey DoGooder Award from SXSW, and has been a TEDx speaker.

Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up

I grew up in the midwest, followed by attending Illinois State University, where I earned a BA in marketing.

How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

I started my first venture in 1999, an internet marketing company, and then I sold it about eight years ago. Then, about a year after I sold that company, I was part of starting the largest plant-based meat company in India. I later sold my interest in that venture and decided to focus on launching the biomaterials company Uncaged Innovations in 2020. I wanted to pursue this business because, through the work I’d done helping animal welfare groups, I’d seen tremendous demand in the fashion and automotive industries for leather alternatives. But, the innovations available in the market had issues, such as being unable to scale quickly or being too expensive. And these materials were not hitting the mark of what fashion and automotive brands needed.

What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?

The lesson that I would tell any startup founder is to set short-term and long-term goals, what they want the company to look like, and what they ultimately want to accomplish. I believe that small milestones help you achieve those larger goals. For instance, we have both short-term and long-range plans for our material. And we break those goals into buckets and then further break down those buckets into monthly and quarterly objectives. These short-range and long-term goals help us focus on the task, budget, and track.

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Mission to impact and inspire 100 million entrepreneurs in the world. Creator of the Founder’s Story segment started on Clubhouse.