Sandhya Creates Delicious Cell-based Meat & Seafood For A Healthier Planet
What’s your story?
I am an entrepreneur, leader, scientist, wife, and mother. I am a stem cell scientist by education and training. Over the years, the entrepreneurship bug bit me, and ever since, I have been a creator. I was born in India, brought up in the Middle East, went back to India for my high school, undergrad and postgrad education, then moved to Singapore in 2009 to do a PhD. I have since made this beautiful city country my home.
From being a scientist in stem cells for healthcare to an entrepreneur in stem cells for food has been an amazing journey. Currently, I am the CEO and co-founder of Shiok Meats, Singapore and SE Asia’s first and only cell-based meat and seafood company.
What excites you most about your industry?
I have been obsessed with the cell-based meat industry for the past 5 years, ever since it was introduced to the world. The whole industry is exciting because it is sustainable, clean, ethical, with zero animal cruelty, as well as delicious. I believe that serving delicious, healthy seafood and meats without the need to kill animals is the perfect way to eat!
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am originally from India, was brought up in the Middle East, and have based my home in Singapore for the past 11 years. Asia is in my blood. I have travelled across various continents at large, but I feel most at home in Asia. The food, the people, and the culture keeps me excited to live here.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Currently, I choose Singapore. It is a great base for a startup and a perfect testing hub for APAC. The government is extremely supportive of the alternative protein and novel food industry in which sector my company, Shiok Meats, resides.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
1. Networking: When you meet someone, make sure you get 3 contacts/connections from them. And when someone reaches out to meet you, give them 3 leads as well. That is how you build your network
2. Entrepreneurship: If you do not try, you will never know. So try it once, at least.
3. Funding: Raise money continuously, and as much money as you can. Never raise money only when your funds dry up.
Who inspires you?
Ryan Bethencourt, CEO of Wild Earth, is my biggest inspiration. I also get inspiration from people I meet in my life on a daily basis – be it a friend, a colleague, an employee, a peer, an investor, an advisor, a mom, a dad, a child, etc.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the entire COVID situation has changed everyone’s life so much that we have had to rethink all of our choices, our way of life, the way we educate/learn, and the way we eat. I believe we humans have made the best out of an unfortunate situation!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would probably not do anything differently as I love the way my life and career are panning out, and can’t wait to see how it goes as the days unfold.
How do you unwind?
I binge watch a lot of TV shows, spend time with my son and husband exploring places, and eating vegetarian food. I used to travel a lot for work and leisure, though I have not done that for the past 6 months due to COVID. I am also very passionate about fashion, sustainable fashion in particular, so I enjoy blogging and tweeting about it on Instagram.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand for sure, for the beaches, the food, the massages and the friendly people!
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” by John Carreyrou.
This book tells you how “not” to run a business.
Shameless plug for your business:
Take an extra 60 seconds to think before you put food into your mouth. Think about where the food comes from, how it was made, and who made it. Make conscious choices. Each and every one of you can make a difference, and we are counting on you – let’s get the world to eat clean!
Shiok Meats is reinventing seafood by producing high quality and nutritious food from stem cells instead of animals — the seafood that we produce are healthy, animal friendly, and don’t harm the environment.
How can people connect with you?
To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.