Episode 12: The Mad Scientist Who Chose Rent Over Food with Elliot Roth

“I chose rent over food, and had sleep for dinner some nights” Elliot
In college Elliot  had a desire to build and no place to do it, so he founded Society for Engineering and Entrepreneurial Design (SEED) where he collaborated with fellow experimenters and created things. From there, he was invited to The University Innovation Fellows where he came to a realization. He found that ” Its not really about the idea, its about the people involved”. A junto, as coined by Benjaminn Franklin, is a type of mastermind group something that Elliot found valuable after his time with the University Innovation Fellows.
Starving, working in a garage, and living in his girlfriend’s apartment, Elliot Roth was a bio-medical engineering degree post-grad, who loved experimenting. When he came to the realization that he could pay for either rent or food, he chose rent. In an effort to sustain his own living, he began experimenting with spirulina an ancient micro-algae once cultivated by the ancient Aztecs. Spirulina is known for its high protein concentration, roughly 60-70% of its dry weight is protein. Compared to 20-30% of protein in chicken. So, Elliot started cultivating spirulina on his own, buying second hand lab equipment that would otherwise have been disposed of.
Inspired by his own needs, and motivated by the many food deserts and insecurities across the globe, Elliot is changing the world one delicious green (non-kale) based drink at a time.
He was onto something, Elliot knew he had to stay with spirulina and it was time to get serious and found a company. He applied to IndieBio in Cork, Ireland and met some of his biggest heroes like Eri Gentry, founder of DIY Biology, a biotechnical social movement for changing the game. Learning the business, experimenting and living on his own in a foreign country.  Before he knew it, DrinkSpira was formed.
Here is what Elliot Tweeted to apply to IndieBio
For the full story, checkout the full episode where Elliot discusses his challenges to creating the drink, how he plans to infuse spirulina with caffeine and flavorings, and where the company is heading next.
We mention Maslow’s Hierarchy, the psychological theory of human curiosity. It became the basis for Elliot’s life.
LighthouseLabs was the second incubator DrinkSpira joined, after Elliot left IndiBio.
Natalie and Eugene’s episode “Build the Plane as You Fly“, was mentioned when we chatted about Elliot living with his team.
Elliot’s favorite quote is “don’t stop moving”, keep moving. BUT stay comfortable. Push yourself personally in uncomfortable places, but if you are avoiding something you yourself should not be doing it. Its either a challenge, and you do it, or don’t do it because it has nothing to do with you.
One of Elliot’s favorite activity is reading. He also loves hanging out with things outside of his existence. Going to museums if you’re in business, or doing something new whatever that might be.
His favorite Google Chrome extension is Rescue Time.
You can sign up for Elliot’s DrinkSpira newsletter and learn more. NextDraft CB Insights, and The Farnam Street blog are all blogs that Elliot loves, and examples of newsletters doing cool things.
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstader is one of his favorite books.
Elliot has been watching Black Mirror, what happens when you take technology to the extreme.
Sam Altman is one of his favorite influencers, the head of Y-Combinator, Elliot claims as “The Harvard of Start-Up accelerator programs”. He likes to see what Y-Combinator alumni have done, and reverse engineer it as a way to see what investors are out there and who he wants to talk to.
The iTunes class that Sam Altman taught at Stanford is How to Start a Start-up.
In closing, Elliot says to “work from the end” figure out a problem that will take you over. He challenges everyone to figure out what you want to do, work backwards from it, and then figure out what person you need to become to achieve your goals.  One tip, contact people that have achieved your goal, so you can learn exponentially from where they have been.
Follow Elliot on Twitter @ThatMrE
Reach out at info@drinkspira.com or email Elliot at e@drinkspira.com
Checkout DrinkSpira on Facebook Instagram or Twitter @DrinkSpira

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