Marjolein Pleune

Co-Founder of Meet Jack, the Netherlands

A journey that began in 2017 when two co-founders, Kaline and Marjolein, ran into Jack while on vacation in Asia. Since then it’s been quite a ride! Wait –⁠ who’s Jack, you ask? Let’s find out. 

“When I started eating vegetarian a few years ago, I missed some really tasty street food. Everything kind of tasted the same,” Marjolein Pleune shares. “After discovering the benefits of jackfruit, a new world of possibilities opened. Kaline and I set out to create our own guilt-free product line of guilty pleasures such as the Dutch bitterballen or Indonesian rendang dish. Since then, we’ve been on a mission to convince people it’s not necessary to eat meat to indulge your carnivorous cravings.”

While they started out with loads of energy and ideas, combined, they had a little experience in food or entrepreneurship. And so they entered the Business Model Challenge, run by Impact Hub Amsterdam, where they were able to transform ideas into a concrete business plan in a matter of months. “There was one distinct moment during demo day –⁠ we pitched our plan on stage and won the vote of jury and the audience award. That’s when I thought, let’s go for it!”

“I am proud of all food start-ups struggling through COVID times and trying to beat the status quo.”

Inspirations, go-to’s and lifehacks: 

  • Pandemic lifehack that helped you survive 2021: My seaside caravan & swims in the North Sea 
  • A person that inspires you: I am super proud of all food start-ups struggling through COVID times and trying to beat the status quo. Seeing all this hard effort and great results, that’s what inspires me most. And also my friend & co-founder Kaline; I’m so happy we are able to do this together and still be best friends. 
  • Last series/movie that kept you awake: Don’t Look Up was hilarious & depressing at the same time. 
  • Favorite book / A book everyone should read: Maja, our Brand Manager, is a big fan of Donald Miller – his books & videos are super helpful.
  • App you find most valuable: Just became a member of Too Good To Go (very late I know, but loving it!)
  • Favorite food / favorite vegan treat: We have so many food startup buddies, so my fridge is always filled with the newest and most amazing vegan stuff. Best part of my job.

Soon after, Meet Jack: Fruit for meat-lovers, was born. Jack is a young unripe jackfruit from the jungles of Asia, here to help you recreate your all-time favorite meat dishes. Long story short, Marjolein and Kaline found jackfruit farmers, set up a supply chain, developed new recipes, and became the only supplier of freshly frozen jackfruit in Holland, selling over 12,000 kg of jackfruit in 2019. “We began selling our first products in 2019 and started with a handful of clients in food service. Today, we are on the shelves of all major wholesalers and selling to over 100 restaurants. The pandemic has been very hard on our business, but during the summer months, restaurants remained open. That helped us reach 30,000 EUR in monthly revenues in food service.” 

What keeps them going, among other things, is a conviction that alone, you go faster, but together, you go further. “So I always try to form strategic partnerships instead of short term deals, for example with clients and producers. And I always try to add some fun to whatever I do, even when, or especially when things get tough. I am convinced that it’s necessary to be able to keep up the hard work,” Marjolein shares of her approach. Meet Jack is now ripening and on its way to being investment-ready. 

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Marjolein is one of the Food Heroes for 2022. See more inspiring and world-changing stories from Food Heroes here.