Auckland vegan milk start up Milk 2.0 has made waves in North America, and won some big-name fans during a recent Ted Talks event.
Milk 2.0, which makes about 120 bottles of almond and pumpkin seed milks each week, had its own marketing stand at the popular speaking event, next to industry giants Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat-substitute firm, and yoghurt brand Chobani.
It was one of just six food and beverage companies selected from around the world to showcase their products at the Food Trends Lab section of the event - and the first ever from New Zealand.
Ted Talks is held in Vancouver each year and is known to be frequented by Silicon Valley heavyweights. Tickets to attend cost between $5000 and $25,000, and this year Rocket Lab chief executive Peter Beck was one of the main speakers.
"We were the only company that has ever showcased from New Zealand," says Milk 2.0 founder and Russian expat Kristina Ivanova, adding that event organisers came across her company through Google.
"They contacted us in January asking if we could provide our products for the talk to give it to the guests but because our product has a very short shelf life we couldn't do that."
Organisers instead suggested Milk 2.0 make its product in the country and so Ivanova spent two days on the ground in Vancouver making the product and two days showcasing its almond and cashew and chocolate-flavoured almond and pumpkin seed milks at the event.
During the showcase, Milk 2.0 caught the attention of actress Mila Kunis and her actor husband Ashton Kutcher.
"Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher came to us to try the milk and they really loved it; Mila even came back with her black coffee to pour some milk in it," she says.
"They really loved it, especially Mila, she had a 20-minute talk with us discussing the benefits of the product and why we are different and our plans. She was telling us to move to California - this was one of the highlights of the event."
Ivanova, who runs the business with her partner Ankit Sehgal, says she was blown away by the response the milk received and the number of entrepreneurs and executives who had suggested they relocate to California to service demand in the market.
Other suggestions it received was to open a store, or a food truck, there.
"They were just amazed at the flavour. They were saying they really needed something like this in California because there is no fresh and good-tasting alternative milk that isn't processed and pasteurised," Ivanova says.
"We have really good food and drink in New Zealand, very tasty ... in the United States not so much, and in the US people care a lot about glass, plastic and where their products come from, even more than in New Zealand."
To relocate to America the company would need around $200,000, she says.
Milk 2.0 began in April last year and operates on a monthly subscription basis, delivering milk each week and collecting the glass bottles afterwards to reuse.
The company is currently in serious talks with a handful of venture capitalists, including a local New Zealand firm, to help fund its expansion.
"Our long-term plan would be to have a hub in New Zealand and send product across, and potentially have multiple hubs in other countries. We don't compromise on quality and don't pasteurise the milk as we want to keep it fresh so it will be tricky to do."
This year, Milk 2.0 wants to expand to service both the North and South Island. It has recently signed a deal to supply its milk to upmarket Auckland supermarket Farro Fresh from May.
It is also working on a poppy seed milk, which is currently under production.