Q&A with Michelle Davenport, RD PhD
Dr. Michelle Davenport is a smart cookie. Not only is she a registered dietician, she also has her PhD in nutrition. (And.. can we talk about her hair?! All the goals). She most recently co-founded Raised Real, a food delivery service for kids that brings flash-frozen, pre-portioned meals directly to families' doorsteps every two weeks.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m Michelle Davenport, and I’m a nutrition neuroscientist and health entrepreneur. Most recently I co-founded Raised Real, a venture-backed baby food company that helps parents make homemade baby food. Before I ventured into food and tech, I received my PhD at New York University, where I researched food and brain aging and then clinically trained at the University of California, San Francisco. I live south of SF in Menlo Park with my amazing husband Josh who is an emergency medicine physician and my almost 3-year-old daughter Sophie.
I feel really grateful to have grown up in a family and an environment (the Bay Area) where entrepreneurship was normal. As a child, I watched my dad, grandparents, a long list of aunts, uncles, and cousins start their own ventures, and knew that this would be my path for as long as I could remember. I like working on hard problems that make large impacts. I still remember when the wellness entrepreneur Morad Fareed, founder of Delos and Square Roots, once told me to “Do things that move the needle.” That really stuck with me, because despite all the nutrition research and innovation, there’s barely been any impact on health. I’ve transitioned out of my role at Raised Real to work on tackling this problem with some new exciting projects that may revolutionize the field of nutrition using emerging technologies.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own brand/business?
First tip is to just go for it. You will never feel ready, and there will be things that you won’t know or know how to do, but remember that the goal is to just get one foot in front of the other and build momentum. My second tip is especially true for wellness entrepreneurs: always think about the value you are bringing to the customer. Is this a solution that actually impacts health or is it a trend? Trends may come and go, but if your product continually adds value, then you’re onto something.
What do you love most about your job?
I love innovating. There’s something intoxicating about a blank piece of paper. Being able to apply what I know about nutrition and health to solving real world problems has been a dream come true.
What do you love most about yourself?
I’m pretty resilient. There’s nothing that can knock me down, and if something does briefly, I’ll just dust myself off and get up again. I’m the daughter of two war refugees and anything I experience pales in comparison to what they went through. I’m also curious about everything, even if it’s outside of my realm of expertise, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I love building businesses so much. It gives you the opportunity to learn continually and build skill sets that allow you to think about problems from different angles.
Take us through a day in the life of Michelle. We want all the deets!
Every day is different. I start off all my mornings having breakfast with Sophie and Josh if he’s home. I’m in research mode right now, so after breakfast I’m reading through papers and reaching out to people. If I have meetings scheduled, then I’ll try to take them in the morning. Yesterday I had a great conversation with Yaron Hadad, the founder of Nutrino, who is applying machine learning and AI to nutrition data. It’s pretty incredible. I also try to fit in a few hours a week to help fellow female entrepreneurs, so I’ll schedule calls for that a few times a week. Next week I’m headed to San Diego to meet with some researchers in the longevity space. No matter what, I carve out a few hours to spend some quality time with Sophie. She’s growing so fast.
What's on the horizon for you in 2018?
Exciting projects are in the works.
And lastly, what makes you feel like a kween?
My daughter said the other day, “I’m Sophie, I’m strong!”. She makes me feel like a Kween.