Food and Beverage Trailblazers Podcast Episode 3

PODCAST: Shiok Meats’ Sandhya Sriram on the challenges faced by Asian female entrepreneurs and top funding tips

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Podcast, cell-based meat, Entrepreneurship, FNA Trailblazers

In this episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast, we speak to the CEO and co-founder of Singapore-based cell-based seafood start-up Shiok Meats Sandhya Sriram about challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Asia, the importance of family support, and her tips for entrepreneurs to approach investors.

Shiok Meats is the first cell-based seafood company of its kind in South East Asia, and has since developed to become a well-known name in the cell-based meat industry worldwide, in addition to raising some US$5mn of funding.

When the firm’s shrimp dumplings were first launched in April 2019, the price point stood at US$4,000 to US$5,000 for eight dumplings – but as of December 2019, Sriram said that this has been reduced to US$7,000 per kilogramme of cell-based shrimp meat.

“We’ve made good progress from where we were at, and by the end of 2020 we should be at a price point of about US$50 per kilogramme, which is fairly affordable,”​ Sriram told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

She also spoke about the many challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Asia and the sharp contrast between attitudes here and in the West.

“When we told people we were doing this, we received a lot of backlash, particularly in Asia,”​ she told us.

“They said these two crazy female scientists quit their jobs out of the blue, they have an idea but no patent, they’ve already quit their jobs, what are they going to do, they’re going to fail, they’ll never raise money – all of this happened within Asia.

“We were expecting this because Asia is very risk-averse, [but] when we brought this to Silicon Valley, Europe and Australian investors they were so excited for us – so we could see the market difference between here and there.”

She stressed on family support as being extremely important for her and her business partner, Ling Ka Yi.

“I remember telling my husband that ‘You pretty much will not see me for a long time, I’m going to be borrowing money from you, and I need you to take care of our son because I won’t be able to be there for anything – but when I find time I’ll give all of it to both of you’,” ​she said.

“Being honest about that is important – a lot of entrepreneurs are very scared, but I was lucky, my husband is an entrepreneur too and understands it better, so he was like ‘Go for it!’.”

Listen to the podcast above to find out more.

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