NHI Person of the Year Arturo Elizondo honored with Laredo’s Key to the City
In 2019, NHI named Arturo Elizondo the NHI Person of the Year, honoring his vision to reshape the food ecosystem by developing alternatives to animal proteins. A little more than two years beyond those honors, and Elizondo’s progressed in his dreams — and has received another meaningful accolade to acknowledge that.
Elizondo was honored by his hometown of Laredo on April 18 with the Key to the City. According to the Laredo Morning Times’ coverage of the event, which included family members and local dignitaries gathered together at Laredo City Hall to honor the CEO of EVERY. In his speech at the ceremony, Elizondo declared, “If there’s one word that describes this theme at this moment, and that’s the theme of imagination. Imagination against all odds.”
He then added, in a nod to the community where he first started dreaming, “Laredo is a city of luchones and gente que le da ganas.”
Elizondo reflected after the ceremony on how NHI’s presence in Laredo and his own NHI experiences shaped his journey — which has included raising more than $230 million for his Silicon Valley-based startup, overseeing the creation the first-ever animal-free egg white and taking it to market.
“Laredo is a city of more than a quarter-million people, and it’s over 95% Hispanic,” he noted. “There are a lot of NHI alumni, and I think what I love … I’ve been very inspired by the people of Laredo, by the Latino community, and the immigrant attitude of making it, pushing against all odds. For me, it was so humbling, because it means so much to be celebrated by the community that so deeply informs a lot of the work that I do and why I do it.”
He also noted that his NHI experience helped him gather the courage to dream in the way that he has and to pursue those dreams.
“Being Hispanic and also being from South Texas, I didn’t see this growing up,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what biotechnology was, I never really thought of what starting a company in Silicon Valley meant. It was a scary thing, but I had examples in my life of people who did scary things and persevered like my parents. They did the scary thing of moving to the United States. There were also many Latinos I had as examples: people like my Congressman, like our federal judges, and the professionals I looked up to growing up in Laredo, who looked like me. They created lives for themselves that defied the odds and the statistics. And that was very inspiring.”
“I love that through NHI, we were inspired and encouraged to dream big, to have a seat at the table, to think about what it’s like to be an elected official making policy, thinking about college, not just locally but nationally. That was hugely validating for me. I was inspired being around students who were just as hungry, just as smart and just as optimistic about their futures as I was. That was big for me.”
The egg white product his company has created is a marvel that’s beginning to catch on. As Elizondo describes it, “It has the same taste, protein, and foaming abilities of a regular egg white, but is free of animal-borne diseases, and is a lot more sustainable — it uses less water, land and energy to produce” than egg whites from chickens. They even put their egg whites to a significant culinary test, partnering with pastry makers Chantal Guillon on a vegan French macaron using the EVERY EggWhite.
For Elizondo, creating more sustainable and animal-free proteins is part of a greater global vision for the future, but in keeping with NHI’s principles, it also has the community where he grew up in focus — reflected in the change of his company name from Clara Foods, which it was at the time he was named NHI Person of the Year, to EVERY.
“We realized that at the end of the day, we wanted a name that really reflected the mission of the company and also the breadth of the product,” he remarked, noting that even though clara was chosen because it was Spanish for egg white, that the technology they’re developing can go beyond just egg whites.
“We wanted to reflect that, but also really have our mission front and center, which is how do we democratize access to sustainable food,” he declared. “So that everyone, every human across every culture, and across every corner of the earth, could have access to it. And that is really important to us. And especially for me, as a Latino founder, I don’t want to just be for the people in New York and San Francisco — but to the people in Laredo, Texas, where I grew up, and my cousins in Mexico, and everywhere in the world where sometimes these foods aren’t really that accessible.”