Biotech startup Shiru Expands Board of Directors and Names Former Impossible Foods VP of R&D as its First Scientific Advisor

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Food industry experts Mary T. Clarke and Rachel Konrad become biotech startup’s first independent board members. Dr. Ranjani Varadan, former VP of R&D at Impossible Foods, takes on all-new role as Shiru’s official scientific advisor

From left to right: Mary T. Clarke, Dr. Ranjani Varadan, Rachel Konrad

Biotech startup Shiru Expands Board of Directors and Names Former Impossible Foods VP of R&D as its First Scientific Advisor

“Mary, Rachel, and Ranjani are global industry leaders, each with different and complementary spheres of expertise and influence in food tech,” said Shiru CEO and Founder Dr. Jasmin Hume.

Shiru, a biotech startup that identifies and creates novel plant-based ingredients for the global food industry, has named its first independent board members and first official scientific advisor.

Shiru discovers and creates novel plant-based ingredients so food companies can make delicious, nutritious, and sustainable foods. Shiru develops ingredients expected to meet or exceed their animal analogs on taste, texture, versatility, and cost at scale. The startup’s patent-pending discovery platform combines machine-learning algorithms and precision fermentation to identify and create highly functional ingredients. The result is a spectrum of novel plant-based ingredients that require a small fraction of the land, energy, and water footprint of animal-derived eggs, meat, milk, and gelatins.

Shiru is announcing several new appointments:

  • Mary T. Clarke joins Shiru as an independent board member. Clarke is a senior executive in the specialty ingredients industry, with expertise across regulated consumer markets including the food, personal care, and pharmaceutical sectors. Clarke is currently Senior Vice President of Innovation at Firmenich, the largest privately owned company in the fragrance and flavor sector. Before that, Clarke headed the North American business of Naturex, a plant-based natural ingredient business acquired by Givaudan for $1.6 billion. Clarke’s prior background includes executive roles at industry-leading firms, including General Manager, Food Ingredients for chemical manufacturing company FMC Corporation, where she managed a global nutrition business recently acquired by IFF.
  • Rachel Konrad joins Shiru as an independent board member. Konrad is an investor, board member, and advisor to disruptive startups that aim to reverse global warming and halt biodiversity collapse. She joined Shiru after five years as Chief Communications Officer at Impossible Foods. Before that, she was Head of Communications and Marketing at the global car group Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. From 2008-2011, Konrad was Director of Communications at Tesla, reporting directly to CEO and Founder Elon Musk. In addition to her role as a consultant and advisor to early-stage startups, Konrad is on the boards of directors at numerous startups including ag-tech pioneer Iron Ox, Asia’s plant-based food leader Next Gen Foods, and environmental crime-fighting non-profit Earth League International.
  • Dr. Ranjani Varadan joins Shiru in an all-new position as scientific advisor. Specializing in protein discovery, Varadan was the first scientist hired by Impossible Foods’ CEO and Founder Dr. Patrick O. Brown in 2011. In her decade at Impossible Foods, she took on a series of roles with increasing scope and guided a growing team of scientists, rising to Vice President of R&D. Varadan, who previously was an adjunct professor in chemistry at State University of New York Purchase, left Impossible earlier this year to launch her next professional chapter as a science educator and advisor. She was a postdoctoral associate at New York Structural Biology Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2007-2010) and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine (2005-2006). Varadan received her PhD in biochemistry at the University of Maryland and received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from India’s Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

“Mary, Rachel, and Ranjani are global industry leaders, each with different and complementary spheres of expertise and influence in food tech,” said Shiru CEO and Founder Dr. Jasmin Hume. “The fact that they’ve joined Shiru is testimony to our team’s pioneering work to accelerate the shift to sustainable food systems. Together, we are making it simple and cost-effective for every food company, from multinational conglomerates to innovative startups, to help solve our climate crisis.”

In addition to Clarke and Konrad, Shiru’s board includes Founder and CEO Jasmin Hume and:

  • Chuck Templeton, Managing Director at S2G Ventures, which invests in companies that are helping the food system be more healthy, climate resilient and equitable. Templeton also founded OpenTable, served as the first Chairman of GrubHub and is an early-stage board member and advisor for several food tech startups. Templeton enjoys digging in with startups in areas such as leadership, operations, culture and team building. As an ultra-runner and former Army Ranger, he understands how important healthy food options are to performance and getting the most out of everyday living.
  • Deena Shakir, Partner at Lux Capital and board member at Maven Clinic, SteadyMD, Alife Health, H1, Adyn and AllStripes. She was previously a partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures) and a product partnerships executive at Google and She was also a Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of State under Secretary Clinton. Deena is an Aspen Finance Fellow and member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, Kauffman Fellows, and the Council on Foreign Relations. She was recently named a Top 30 Under 40 in Healthcare by Business Insider and a Top 5 Senior Women in Venture to Watch by the Wall Street Journal.

Plants: the foundation of sustainable food

Shiru’s goal is to make a full suite of sustainable ingredients to help conserve water, decelerate global warming, and halt our planet’s extinction crisis. A growing number of consumers are demanding plant-based proteins, conservatively forecasted to be a $400 billion market in 2022. Shiru provides turn-key and bespoke ingredient solutions that allow food companies to incorporate next-generation, plant-based proteins quickly—without developing and producing the biotechnology in-house. Shiru plans to deliver its first ingredients to global food and consumer packaged goods companies in early 2022.

The company’s scientists have reverse-engineered some of the planet’s most popular ingredients from the molecular level, replicating the taste, texture, gelation, foaming, emulsification, and binding abilities of animal proteins. Shiru’s versatile ingredients can be used in a wide variety of products that currently require animal-derived proteins, from packaged baked goods and sauces to burgers and yogurt.

“A” for acceleration

Shiru aims to develop multiple types of functional ingredients, starting with proteins. Shiru’s plant-based proteins are categorically different from conventional legume-based additives.

Last month, Shiru closed a $17 million Series A round led by S2G Ventures and joined by returning investors Lux Capital, CPT Capital, Y Combinator, and Emles Venture Partners. New investors The W Fund, SALT, and Veronorte also participated, bringing Shiru’s total funding to date to more than $20 million. Shiru will use the Series A investment to accelerate hiring across its team, which spans protein science and fermentation to marketing and business development. Currently employing about 25 people, Shiru plans to at least double its workforce within a year. Shiru will also move into a new custom-built headquarters in Alameda, Calif., in early 2022 and start scaling up manufacturing.

To work for Shiru, check out the job openings and apply here.

About Shiru
Shiru is a biotech company pioneering next-generation ingredients for use in food manufacturing and production. Founded in 2019, Shiru has developed a growing catalog of sustainable, functional plant proteins by leveraging a patent-pending, machine learning enabled discovery to identify and create novel plant-based food ingredients. Powered by a team of technology experts and food industry veterans, Shiru is on a mission to reduce the world’s reliance on animals for food by providing delicious, cost-effective, healthy, and sustainable plant-based alternatives. Shiru is based in Emeryville, California, and is backed by leading venture capital firms such as S2G Ventures, Lux Capital, and CPT Capital. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Alex De Los Reyes, Shiru

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