Famed startup accelerator Y Combinator just announced the 23 companies joining its newest YC Winer 2019 batch. Among them is Shiok Meats, a Singapore-based startup developing cell-based crab and shrimp, and the first cell-based meat company to join Y Combinator.
Though they’ll be in the Bay Area to participate in Y Combinator, co-founder Dr. Sandhya Sriram told The Spoon earlier this year that they’re planning to roll out their products in Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore, Hong Kong, and India. They expect to have their first cell-based product to market in three to five years.
Y Combinator has previously invested in plant-based meat companies like Seattle Food Tech. Last summer the accelerator even included the Good Food Institute, a non-profit promoting the growth of meat alternatives, both plant-based and cell-based.
However, by letting a cultured meat company through its hallowed doors, Y Combinator is now blessing cell-based meat as a viable investment opportunity. And a blessing from the accelerator that backed AirBnB and Dropbox, among other cash cow companies, is likely going to make clean meat even more of an investment magnet than it already is.
It’s interesting that Y Combinator chose Shiok Meats as the first cell-based meat company to join their ranks, since I’m betting they’re not the first to apply. Applications can be a crapshoot and all that, but perhaps the accelerator was convinced to accept the Singaporean startup because they were convinced, as I was, that Shiok Meat’s plan to launch in Southeast Asia means that it could have a greater global impact than cultured meat companies in the U.S. or Europe.
In any case, hopefully Y Combinator’s investment and mentorship will help Shiok Meats get cell-based shrimp dumplings on our plates even sooner. In fact, the startup already has a product ready for taste testing. Shiok Meats will be hosting a tasting of dumplings made with its cell-based shrimp later this month at the Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit in their home country of Singapore.