Meet the CPA who started a plant-based burger business

Ali Cant holds a burger up and looks at it in a kitchen CPA Ali Cant kept track of the recipes he tried in an Excel spreadsheet (Photography by Alana Paterson)

WHAT MADE YOU JUMP TO THIS NEW CAREER?

I’d spent eight years in the corporate world doing accounting, and had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was in my early thirties and life was moving along. I knew that if I didn’t try something soon, I might not get the opportunity. I always wanted to start a business that was environmentally conscious. Eating plants is a good way to lower your carbon footprint.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A CHEF?

I’m not a chef. I’m just an accountant, and a guy who loves food. Every recipe I tried, I put into an Excel spreadsheet. I tracked iteration after iteration — there were over 20 per recipe.

HOW DOES COASTIE CRAFT BURGERS WORK, EXACTLY?

What we sell is burger dough that you defrost, scoop, form patties with and then cook. It’s really fun because we’ve created a product that has so many iterations. We’ve got seven different SKUs now, and they’re all completely different.

DID THE PANDEMIC AFFECT YOUR OUTPUT?

We did bicycle delivery for almost two years. That’s been probably about 30 per cent of our business, but not quite enough to really build and scale it.

TELL US SOME OF YOUR SUSTAINABILITY BELIEFS

I actually became vegan. I realized early on that to be a plant-based entrepreneur you need to walk the walk. If I’m not vegan, then what am I saying about my product’s place in the world?

HOW DID YOUR CPA DESIGNATION HELP YOU?

Accounting offered me a strong skill set that would be transferable across any business. Becoming a CPA helped me develop executive decision-making — the part of your brain that makes long-term decisions that are not based on instant gratification. That ability to step back and think really sets CPAs apart from a lot of other professions.

MEET OTHER INSPIRING CPAS

Read about the CPA who balances a passion for fly fishing with her role as a CEO and the hockey lover who takes a break from accounting to run a youth ball hockey league. Plus, see how these CPAs are sharing their financial knowledge on social media.

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