2 Minutes With … Ara Katz, Co-Founder of Seed Health

On asking questions and seeking the truth

Ara is co-founder and co-chief executive of Seed Health, a company pioneering innovations in probiotics and living medicines. Ara also oversees Seed's environmental endeavors under SeedLabs and directs its LUCA Biologics venture addressing unmet needs in women's health.

A serial entrepreneur, Ara previously co-founded mobile commerce startup Spring. She also authored A Kids Book About Your Microbiome, and served as a visiting fellow at the MIT Media Lab, helping create the Center for Future Storytelling and an MBA program. 

We spent two minutes with Ara to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.


Ara, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born and raised in New York City, and now live in Venice, Calif.

How you first realized you were creative.

I would spend hours building, writing and creating from a very early age—from making architectural models and VHS movies to taking photographs and doing graphic design on my AppleIIGS. 

A person you idolized creatively early on.

It's a tie between Frank Lloyd Wright and my dad. Wright for blurring the lines between the built environment and our natural world—and my dad for seeing the light, hearing the music and finding the human in just about anything. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

My mom died from pancreatic cancer when I was 16. Losses like that inevitably shape the way you move through life. I had an appreciation and understanding of what actually matters in a way that, at times, felt isolating. But overall, and especially now as a parent, I am grateful for the perspective. 

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

I recently rewatched the What About Bob? with my 8-year-old son, who has not stopped quoting and re-enacting it. It was a beautiful reminder of how one person can enter your life in the most unexpected (sometimes unwelcome) ways and show you things you couldn't see yourself. 

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

Cultivating Seed. It was the culmination of so many ideas I've had over the years—the synthesis of worlds and concepts I've wanted to connect, and a reflection of the world I'd like to live in. Science has historically been so cold and clinical, and our brand presents the opportunity to shift that perception. From our visual language to our industrial design, it's a project that continues to reveal itself.

A recent project you're proud of. 

On New Year's Eve, we launched our first billboard in Times Square, one of the most chaotic, ad-heavy places in the country, and on one of the busiest nights of the year. We reimagined the billboard as a canvas for nature's awe-inspiring beauty, featuring imagery by wildlife photographer Anirudh Vidyabhushan from our @Earth community. It's a reminder of the stewardship needed for our natural world. Think of it as an ad for Earth.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

Howard Zinn's The People's History of the United States. As Matt Damon's character in Good Will Hunting says, "If you want to read a real history book, read Howard Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States. That book will knock you on your ass." And indeed, in Mr. Jiavaras' 11th grade class, it did that for me. This book was the catalyst for a lifetime of assuming I was almost only hearing the story from one perspective—that of the privileged and those in power. When something makes you question what you have been taught, you can become a lifelong scientist, question asker and truth seeker. 

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

David Byrne's American UtopiaAn Atlas of Es DevlinMatthew Heineman's American Symphony and Lil Nas X. Plus, the beautiful piece of pottery our CCO Cathrin Bowtell made for my last birthday, and my son's depiction of what community means to him. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

The combination of aesthetics, storytelling and connecting seemingly disparate dots. 

Your biggest weakness.

Perfection.

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.

Michael Ovitz

How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.

I'm building a company that employs first-principle thinkers. 

What you'd be doing if you weren't leading your own company.

I want to say designing physical space and writing. But if I'm honest, I'd likely be building more companies with my co-founder Raja. 

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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