Ray Ortega’s entrepreneurial journey is as diverse as the products he creates. His ventures have spanned a wide range of industries, all with a common thread: a commitment to veganism.

In a recent interview on the Veganpreneur REVOLUTION Podcast, Ray shared insights into his experiences and offered advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

A Passion for Veganism

Ray’s journey into entrepreneurship began with a passion for veganism. Cutting cookies with a sausage stuffer and cooking cookies with a hamburger machine may seem unconventional, but for Ray, it was a testament to his creativity and dedication to crafting vegan alternatives. His commitment to cruelty-free living led him to explore various business ventures in the plant-based space.

Lessons Learned in Meat Processing Plants

Having witnessed the inner workings of meat processing plants, Ray gained valuable insights that reinforced his dedication to veganism. These experiences served as a driving force behind his mission to offer plant-based alternatives and inspired him to seek out innovative solutions in the food industry.

Navigating Trade Shows: Advice for Entrepreneurs

As an exhibitor at trade shows, Ray has honed his approach to maximize value and opportunities. His advice to fellow entrepreneurs attending trade shows is straightforward: come prepared. Bringing ample samples, along with comprehensive information about products, packaging, and distribution, can make a significant difference in attracting attention and forging connections.

Building Successful Partnerships

Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Ray emphasizes the importance of choosing business partners wisely. While partnerships can offer opportunities for growth and collaboration, they also come with risks. Ray’s experiences have taught him the value of transparency, clear communication, and aligning interests to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

Overcoming Financial Challenges

For many entrepreneurs, financial challenges are a reality. Ray acknowledges the significance of passion and resilience in navigating these hurdles. When faced with a shortage of funds, he advises entrepreneurs to consider various options, such as seeking loans, securing partnerships, or even turning to friends and family for support. However, he emphasizes the importance of transparency and managing expectations to preserve relationships.

The Future of Vegan Entrepreneurship

Looking ahead, Ray sees a bright future for vegan entrepreneurship. With an ever-expanding market and growing consumer demand for plant-based products, opportunities abound. His message to aspiring entrepreneurs is clear: embrace passion, be prepared to face challenges head-on, and never lose sight of the potential for growth and innovation in the vegan space.

Inspiring Others Through Experience

Ray’s journey from humble beginnings to entrepreneurial success serves as an inspiration to many. His willingness to share knowledge and mentorship reflects his commitment to supporting fellow entrepreneurs in the vegan community. As he continues to innovate and expand his ventures, Ray remains dedicated to empowering others and driving positive change in the world of plant-based business.

Ray’s journey exemplifies the power of entrepreneurship in driving positive social change. Through his unwavering commitment to veganism and philanthropy, Ray has carved out a unique space in the culinary landscape, one cookie at a time.

Episode Highlights 

[00:00] Introduction 

[01:00] Where the vegan story begins for Rey Ortega.

[03:30] The influence of Linda Middlesworth.

[06:00] How it feels to be the only vegan in a group.

[10:00] Hitting a million in sales. 

[12:30] Rey’s recommendations for start-up vegan entrepreneurs. 

[16:00] A discussion about lab grown meat. 

[19:15] Families, farms, politicians and subsidization. 

[21:30] Distribution channels for vegan businesses.

[28:00] Industry specific trade shows. 

[31:00] Exhibiting or participating in trade shows… what to do? 

[37:00] Developing partnerships… Yes? No? Why? 

[42:00] There has to be a future in your business model.

[45:00] From welfare to millions… the journey.

[49:00] Making a healthy cookie.

[57:00] Giving children healthier food options.

[60:00] Recommended reading…Hooked; Ultra Processed People; The Dorito Effect; Salt, Sugar, Fat

[62:30] Healthier or dying a miserable death… you do choose through what you choose.

About Rey Oreta 

Rey Ortega, famously dubbed The Mad Cookie Man, is a luminary within the plant-based culinary sphere, boasting an illustrious career spanning over three decades. His journey began in 1994 when he planted the seeds of innovation by founding the Alternative Baking Company. At a time when veganism was still finding its foothold, Rey’s visionary leadership catapulted the company into the forefront of the movement, pioneering one of the first vegan cookie brands on the market. The resounding success of the Alternative Baking Company, which achieved a remarkable $1 million in sales within its inaugural year, spoke volumes about Rey’s foresight and dedication to ethical consumption.

Not content with resting on his laurels, Rey’s insatiable appetite for innovation propelled him forward, leading to the establishment of Sun Flour Baking Company in 1997. Here, he embarked on a quest to redefine the very essence of taste, texture, and nutrition, crafting an exquisite array of raw and baked gluten-free cookies that stood as a testament to his culinary prowess. These delectable creations not only tantalized the taste buds but also championed sustainability and compassion by eschewing animal products entirely.

Rey’s impact transcends mere business success; it’s deeply rooted in a profound commitment to social responsibility and philanthropy. Through his endeavors, he fervently supports organizations such as Farm Sanctuary, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and In Defense of Animals (IDA), channeling his entrepreneurial acumen towards creating a better, more compassionate world.

Beyond the boardroom, Rey’s influence extends into the realms of literature and innovation. His ownership of Garden to Grill, a revered vegan restaurant, served as a testament to his commitment to promoting plant-based living. Moreover, Rey’s literary contributions, including two captivating children’s books, inspire young minds to embrace principles of compassion and sustainability.

Innovation knows no bounds for Rey Ortega. His expertise in cannabis infusion for topical and edible products showcases his versatility and willingness to explore new frontiers within the ever-evolving landscape of plant-based entrepreneurship. As The Mad Cookie Man continues to push the boundaries of possibility, his legacy serves as an enduring testament to the transformative power of conscious consumption and compassionate living, inspiring countless individuals to embrace a lifestyle aligned with their values. 

Learn more: www.startaveganbusiness.com 

About Kathleen Gage 

Kathleen Gage is a multifaceted professional, renowned as the founder of Vegan Visibility and co-founder of Vegan Visibility Productions. With certifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell University, she’s a seasoned business consultant, keynote speaker, and marketing strategist.

Kathleen’s impact extends to hosting the Vegan Visibility Virtual Summit, a niche event supporting vegan and plant-based entrepreneurs with top-tier training from industry experts. Since establishing her business in 1994, she’s navigated economic challenges across various sectors, including high-tech, healthcare, and publishing.

Her influential voice resonates through popular podcasts like “Vegan Visibility” and “Plant Based Eating for Health,” where she advocates for a sustainable, compassionate world and provides guidance to thousands globally. Moreover, as an award-winning speaker and past president of Utah’s National Speakers Association chapter, Kathleen excels in crafting effective marketing strategies.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Kathleen resides in Central Oregon, where she champions animal rescue and enjoys outdoor activities. Her commitment to creating a more compassionate and sustainable world shines through in both her personal and professional pursuits.

About Vlynn Hawkins 

VLynn Hawkins is a formidable figure at the intersection of vegan entrepreneurship, extreme athleticism, and business leadership. As the Co-Founder of Vegan Visibility Productions and the Chief Executive/Engagement Officer at P3Academy, she channels her expertise to elevate health and wellness businesses. With over three decades in commercial real estate lending, VLynn boasts a track record of leading high-performing teams to exceptional success, consistently generating substantial revenue for multi-billion dollar enterprises.

Transitioning from her corporate career, VLynn’s journey towards holistic wellness began after a knee injury redirected her focus. Exploring healing modalities like tapping, NLP, and hypnotherapy, she discovered a passion for holistic health practices. Today, armed with certifications in business development, hypnotherapy, joint venture brokering, and digital marketing, VLynn empowers Healthpreneurs to thrive in their endeavors.

As a Certified Plant-Based Ambassador, VLynn passionately advocates for the transformative power of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Vegan lifestyle. She hosts the insightful “Health Wisdom & Wealth Show,” sharing invaluable insights into holistic living. Additionally, VLynn serves as the CEO of CrowdfundingHacker.org, assisting small businesses and nonprofits in fundraising for impactful projects.

Based in Atlanta, GA, VLynn enjoys an active lifestyle, often engaging in workouts and leisurely walks with her Cairn Terrier, Hiro. Her multifaceted skill set and unwavering dedication make her an influential advocate for veganism, health entrepreneurship, and impactful business strategies.

SUBSCRIBE TO APPLE PODCAST for regular updates of the Veganpreneur REVOLUTION podcast.