Shiok Meats co-founder Sandhya Sriram speaks on being a woman entrepreneur in SE Asia

Sandhya Sriram, CEO & co-founder of Shiok Meats.

Sandhya Sriram is the founder and CEO of Shiok Meats, a cell-based clean meat company employing cellular agriculture to produce seafood, founded in 2018.

Sriram, who has been a stem cell scientist for over 10 years working with muscle, adipose, cells, and stem cells, founded Shiok Meats along with Ka Yi Ling. Shiok Meats is the first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia and the first and only cell-based meat company working on shrimp.

In Sep 2020, Shiok Meats announced a series A funding of $12.6M led by led by the sustainable aquaculture-focused fund Aqua-Spark. Three months prior, Shiok Meats had raised $3 million in a bridge financing round, led by Agronomics, a UK-based alternative meat investor.

Sandhya Sriram was among the 12 women (co-)founders interviewed for our Women in Startups: The SE Asia Edition report. She shared her experience as a woman entrepreneur. Edited excerpts:

Did you and your co-founder find it challenging as women to raise your Series A? 

We did not find it challenging as women founders to raise funding — but we did find it challenging as founders of a pre-revenue, deep tech company with longer timelines to generating revenue, which is a few years away from commercialisation and profitability. However, both my co-founder and I have over 20 years’ experience in the stem cell industry and we have the credibility and expertise; our technology is unique and we are the first in the world to work on cell-based crustaceans – so these were positive factors for us.

What do you hope to see more of in the SE Asia ecosystem of founders and VC?

My key lessons from the pandemic are that entrepreneurs are strong-minded and strong-willed — we will push through all challenges and adverse situations. For Shiok Meats, we did face some challenges due to various lockdowns around the world — but we pushed through and here we are closer to commercialisation!

What are your key lessons from the pandemic, and have you adapted your business due to it?

More active participation of investors and VCs with streamlined and shorter due diligence timelines for deep tech startups.

To read more such interviews and access data like the share of capital that flowed to women-led startups in SE Asia, refer to our Research & Analytics report.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.