About our mentor program

We partnered with a group of accomplished alternative protein experts who applied to and were selected for our program out of hundreds of applicants. These exceptional mentors choose to give back to the sector by volunteering their time and industry knowledge.

Areas of expertise include, but are not limited to:

  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Fundraising and investor relations
  • Legal 
  • Formulation/ingredients
  • Infrastructure 
  • Pitching and presenting

If you are interested in speaking with a GFI Mentor please review the mentor bios below and submit the form at the end of this page. You may request sessions with more than one mentor.

Meet our mentors

Alexandre Bastos

HEAD OF FRONT END INNOVATION AT GIVAUDAN

Areas of expertise: Foodtech, venturing, entrepreneurship, strategy development and digital transformation. 

Location: Switzerland

Mentor bio

Angel investor|  Advisory board

Alexandre has more than 20 years in the food industry, mature and high growth markets; solid experience in foodtech, venturing, entrepreneurship, strategy development and digital transformation; cross-functional in corporate and multi-cultural background. Previously, he has had top global consulting and petro & oil industry experience.

Josephine bellacomo

Josephine Bellaccomo

FOUNDER, MOVE THE MESSAGE

Areas of expertise: Fundraising, public speaking, storytelling, high performance

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Leadership coach | Pitch consultant | Speaker | Master facilitators | Author, Move the Message

Josephine helps large organizations, startups and individuals, turning leaders and innovators into great communicators. As a pitch coach, she helps founders get funding and grow their business. As a leadership coach, she specializes in executive presence, presentations and high performance. Jo has worked with VMware, Microsoft, Zoom, MasterCard, American Express, Expedia, Deloitte, Capital One, BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Bloomberg, HSBC, Korn Ferry Hay Group, Willis Towers Watson, Akamai, ThoughtSpot, Razorfish, McCann, Tribal DDB, Y&R, Dentsu Aegis, Packard Foundation (SOCAP), Bay Area Video Coalition, Perfect World Entertainment, Cryptic Studios, and Mission Barns.

Marta bigio

Marta Bigio

SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, SUSTAINABILITY, WEBER SHANDWICK

Areas of expertise: Strategic planning, media relations, crisis communication, CSR communication, campaign management

Location: Singapore

Mentor bio

Marta is an experienced communication professional with 16 years of international experience in both agency and client settings. Throughout her career, she has led multi-disciplinary teams that covered a range of disciplines, from media relations to crisis and corporate communications.

Before joining Weber Shandwick, Marta led the sustainability business at Redhill, where she built the team and established the practice from scratch. Her previous experience includes leading the global communications team for sustainable sourcing at Unilever, where she proactively communicated topics like regenerative agriculture and dealt with issues and crisis management around deforestation and social issues.

At Weber Shandwick, Marta leads the sustainability practice regionally, drawing on her experience working with brands such as Dove, Knorr, Lifebuoy, Crocs, Mars, Heineken, and NBC Universal.

Marta is a Portuguese national who has lived in The Netherlands, Spain, and Singapore. She holds a Master’s degree in communication and advertising and is currently pursuing a postgraduate in sustainable business at Cambridge University.

Lena brueggen

Lena Brueggen

PRINCIPLE, B8 VENTURES

Areas of expertise: Fundraising strategy, investor relations, commercial strategy, go-to-market strategy, pitching & presenting

Location: Berlin, Germany

Mentor bio

Lena Brueggen is Principal at the Berlin-based FoodTech VC Be8 Ventures which she joined in early 2020. As part of the founding Team, she is responsible for alternative protein investments since inception and is supporting startups with her knowledge and network in the space of alternative proteins. Before joining Be8 Ventures, Lena gained experience in transaction consulting advising international corporate and private equity clients. Lena is based in one of Europe’s most thriving Start-up Hubs, Berlin, where she enjoys the diverse art & culture as well as the innovative food scene. Lena’s expertise includes fundraising strategy, commercial strategy, business planning & competitive positioning.

Mark busch

Mark Busch

VENTURE PARTNER, EARTH FIRST FOOD VENTURES

Areas of expertise: Fundraising/IR strategy, financial modeling, commercial strategy, structuring & negotiating partnerships/JVs/acquisitions

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Mark is a Venture Partner at Earth First Food Ventures a venture capital platform focused on ESG/impact investing in innovative food technologies. Mark started his career in the NGO space doing business development and impact investing before transitioning to being an entrepreneur for several ventures in both the hospitality and adventure tourism industries. Subsequently, Mark worked as an investor for multiple VC firms (US and Europe) ranging from health-tech to life sciences, to blockchain and machine learning verticals. His transaction experience has been further strengthened working on the buyside as the SVP of Corp Dev/M&A for one of the largest publicly held retail and CPG cannabis operators in North America. Since 2017 Mark has been an advisor and consultant for several alternative protein companies spanning all three verticals (plant, cultivated, and fermentation).

Brian cooley

Brian Cooley

EDITOR AT LARGE, CNET

Areas of expertise: Communications, media relations, marketing

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Experienced technology editor, media host and speaker who can help with executive presentations, media training, podcast design & production, and video strategy and production. Has coached and consulted numerous major brands in the food, package goods and consumer electronics industries to help them communicate with consumers effectively.

Heather courtney

Heather Courtney

FOUNDING GENERAL PARTNER, ALWYN CAPITAL

Areas of expertise: Fundraising strategy, investor relations, pitching and presenting, branding, communications

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Heather Courtney is the Founding General Partner of Alwyn Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in biotech companies disrupting the animal-based economy. Alwyn Capital partners with innovators that are revolutionizing the future of food, fashion and medicine through innovations that replace an outdated reliance on animals.

In addition to her role at Alwyn, Heather is a Deal Lead and Committee Member for impact investment network, the GlassWall Syndicate, and an advisor to the Material Innovation Initiative and the Center for Contemporary Sciences. Heather holds a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Florida and a BA from Parsons School of Design.

Nate crosser

Nate Crosser

PRINCIPAL, BLUE HORIZON

Areas of expertise: Fundraising strategy, commercial strategy, alternative protein technology differentiation

Location: United States

Mentor bio

VC investor in alternative proteins & post-animal bioeconomy

Nate is a Principal at Blue Horizon, an investment company dedicated to accelerating the transition to a New Sustainable Food System. He is primarily focused on alt proteins at the pre-seed/seed stages. He was previously at the Good Food Institute and a biotech incubator in startup and investment support roles. Nate can help with your investor pitch, commercial strategy, and differentiating your technology. Nate currently lives in Kansas and is into writing, animal welfare, effective altruism, cooking (especially with fire and microbes), and hiking.

Clemence doblin

Clemence Doblin

SENIOR MANAGER – STRATEGY & INNOVATION, FACTOR

Areas of expertise: Strategy development, go-to-market strategy, market assessment, competitive positioning, customer insights, pricing strategy, storytelling and written presentations

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Clemence is a Senior Manager in Strategy & Innovation within the Product Strategy team of Factor, part of the HelloFresh group.

Clemence started her career in strategy consulting at Kearney Paris where she spent 6 years working on 35+ strategic and private equity projects. She then pursued an MBA from Kellogg-Northwestern with a focus on Sustainability, Social Impact and Food and Agritech. Leveraging her experience in strategy, she helped New Culture on their pricing and go-to-market strategy, built an investment thesis in the alternative dairy space for Wittington Ventures and helped build the Food Innovation Lab of the Chicago-based accelerator 1871.

Recently, Clemence has been fostering innovation and community engagement within the Food Tech space as a Food Hack ambassador for the city of Chicago. Clemence’s extensive international residency in Paris, Singapore, Mumbai, London, San Francisco, and now Chicago reflects her deep global perspective and cultural immersion.

Thierry duvanel circle

Thierry Duvanel

DIRECTOR OF INNOVATION, BÜHLER GROUP

Areas of expertise: Food-tech, business development, venturing, entrepreneurship, strategy development and digital technologies

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Thierry is Director of Innovation for the Buhler Group, managing the front-end innovation activities and overseeing the scouting and engagement with startups for the group.

Before joining Buhler Thierry led MassChallenge Switzerland, the European branch of the leading global startup accelerator. The program runs today with over 1,500 yearly applications from startups from all around the world and provides support to 100 each year. Prior to MassChallenge, Thierry co-founded two companies active in software development and medical devices respectively, successfully managed and exited them. Originally from Switzerland, he has been working and living in the UK and South Korea, and is now based in the US.

Thierry holds a Bachelor and a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and has been trained at the International Institute for Management Development – IMD in Switzerland.

While leading MassChallenge, Thierry learned about planetary boundaries and the important environmental footprint generated by our food system. He decided to contribute to the development of strategies to reform our food system into a prosperous and regenerative state.

When not trying to tackle the root cause problems in our food system and meeting entrepreneurs solving them, he enjoys running, cycling and hiking.

Howard eisenberg

Howard Eisenberg

ENTREPRENEUR

Areas of expertise: B2B sales, product realization (prototype/MVP through production), supply chain management and logistics, and international partnerships

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Entrepreneur | Adventurer | Mentor

Working in leading edge industries throughout his early career, Howard created operational success in new technology businesses working in key positions as an Intrapreneur at forward-thinking companies: Microwave Microelectronics in the 1980s, Electric Vehicles and Warehouse Automation in the 1990s, and Fiber Optic Telecommunications in the 2000s. He went on to start up two automated equipment manufacturing companies in the warehousing and distribution space – one co-owned with a Dutch company, the other wholly owned in the US. As President of both companies simultaneously, Howard and his team grew Eurosort Inc. and United Sortation Solutions LLC (USS) to a combined revenue of over $120M with net margin significantly higher than the industry standard. Both companies were acquired in 2016 by Intelligrated, now a division of Honeywell.  Howard is founding Co-Director of the Georgetown University Startup Accelerator, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University, a mentor at Halcyon House –  a social impact incubator, and an active angel investor. Areas of expertise include B2B sales, product realization (prototype/MVP through production), supply chain management and logistics, and international partnerships. Howard holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Buffalo, an MS in Financial Management from Johns Hopkins University, and an MS in Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Stanford University. He resides in Washington DC and enjoys exploring new places with family, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and photography.

Emilie fitch

Emilie Fitch

ENTREPRENEUR

Areas of expertise: General business strategy, commercial/go-to-market strategy (B2B, B2C; omni-channel), brand, marketing and sales, communications, market assessment and customer insights, investor relations, team building.

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Emilie brings over 20 years of marketing, brand building, and commercial leadership experience spanning multiple industries (from food to consumer tech to synthetic biology), company growth stages (from pre-launch start-up to growth stage to big company), and business models (B2B, B2C, retail, foodservice, and ecommerce). Along with building and leading marketing and brand teams, she has led consumer insights, managed internal and external creative teams, and has held general manager roles with cross-functional team leadership and P&L responsibility for businesses up to $600 million in annual revenue.

Most recently, Emilie was the Chief Growth Officer and employee #1 at Nowadays, a clean label plant-based meat company, where she was responsible for building and executing an omni-channel commercial strategy from pre-launch to a brand with emerging national awareness. Before that, she served as Head of Growth at Ginkgo Bioworks, where she started and built out the marketing and growth functions, led commercial strategy initiatives, and helped create multiple spin-off companies.  She also worked as a brand lead at Kraft Heinz for several years holding marketing leadership and general management roles on multiple brands. She is now consulting for sustainability-focused start-ups and organizations and is passionate about using her skill set to evolve our food system to better meet the needs of consumers and the planet.

Emilie holds an undergrad degree from the University of Richmond with a major in Leadership Studies and an MBA from Kellogg.

Richard freeman

Richard Freeman

CEO, CERVUS CONSULTING

Areas of expertise: Commercialization, Business Development, G2M strategy, Contract negotiation, Cultivated meat

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Richard has 15 years of experience in the life sciences domain, encompassing both the commercial and research sectors. Over the past 3 years, Richard has primarily focused on assisting cultivated meat suppliers in expanding their commercial offerings and entering the market.

As a mentor, Richard primarily specializes in aiding early-stage companies with their commercial growth. He has expertise in contract negotiation, market research, product-market fit, strategic commercial planning, and general business development.

Additionally, Richard has gained valuable insights into the cultivated meat market as a whole through extensive interactions with companies at various stages of growth across the industry.

Steve Goldenberg

FOUNDER & CEO, STERLING BIO MACHINES

Areas of expertise: B2B sales, new product development (concept creation, prototype development, production, and commercialization), entrepreneurship, recruiting, team leadership, venture capital, biomanufacturing technology, cultivated meat

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Steve Goldenberg is a founder, 3x CEO, and angel investor with a record of transforming product ideas to create meaningful impact and company growth. He is an established leader in creating, validating, building, and delivering groundbreaking products. His first startup Interfolio is a SaaS company serving the global higher education market. There he and his team created a new product category, raised $19 million in capital between 2013 and 2018, helped source and complete two acquisitions, and achieved two exits–first in 2018 to a private equity firm for $110M, and again in 2022 to a strategic acquirer. He is now Founder and CEO of Sterling Bio Machines, a biotech engineering company building a novel bioreactor for the synthetic and engineering biology market. 

Steve lives between Washington and London, where Sterling is based.

Peter jackman

Peter Jackman

DIRECTOR AT STERNE, KESSLER, GOLDSTEIN & FOX

Areas of expertise: Global patent portfolio procurement, management and enforcement strategies, technology transfer, invalidity, non-infringement, freedom-to-operate and patentability opinions, due diligence investigations.

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Peter Jackman is a director in Sterne Kessler’s Biotechnology & Chemical Practice Group. His practice includes counseling clients in areas such as global patent portfolio procurement, management and enforcement strategies, technology transfer, invalidity, non-infringement, freedom-to-operate and patentability opinions and due diligence investigations. He has significant experience in representing clients in patent reexaminations and inter partes review proceedings and has written and prosecuted patent applications domestically and internationally in areas such as immunology, genomics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA technologies, transgenics, bioprocessing, advanced biofuels, bio-based chemicals, fertilizers and enzymes, fermentation technologies, microbiology, cell and gene therapies and food science. Peter is also a member of the firm’s CleanTech Industry Group. He frequently lectures and publishes on intellectual property issues surrounding renewable technologies, and he was an Associate Editor for Clean Tech Law & Business, the first peer-reviewed journal devoted exclusively to the pursuit of environmentally sustainable technology. He further served on the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the firm, Peter worked in the Office of Technology Development, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, as a Technology Transfer Fellow. He has also been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law co-teaching a course in Technology Transfer. Peter holds a BS in Biology from Villanova University and an MS in Microbiology from Thomas Jefferson University.  He received his J.D. with concentrations in both Intellectual Property Law and Business Law.

Keren kles

Keren Kles

FREELANCE CONSULTANT

Areas of expertise: Protein functionality, texture, emulsions, food physical chemistry

Location: Israel

Mentor bio

Food science and technology consultant

Dr. Keren Kles is a food scientist, specializing in alternative proteins and ingredients. Keren has over 18 years of food industry and academia experience; both in production and R&D, focusing on new agricultural products and ingredients including their processing and end products. In her previous job, Keren spearheaded the technology development at Flying SpArk, a foodtech startup company that makes protein powders and oil from insects. Before that, Keren was a member of PepsiCo’s Advanced Research team (located in Plano, TX) focusing on multi-textured products. Currently Keren is a freelance consultant,helping early-stage food tech startup companies advance to the next level. She also teaches food science classes at the Hebrew University and at the Tel Hai College. Keren holds a BSc in Biochemistry and Food Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a PhD in Food Science and Technology from University of California – Davis.

Samantha miller

Samantha Miller

BIOTECH ENTREPRENEUR

Areas of expertise: Partnering with strategics, fundraising, FDA regulatory strategy, negotiation of CMO & CRO agreements

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Cellular agriculture | Cultivated meat | Precision fermentation | Startup strategy |
Manufacturing scale-up | Partnering

Samantha has roots in biochemistry research and over 25 years of leadership experience in the biotech industry. She is a business development, licensing, and operations leader turned entrepreneur. She has extensive experience setting up new companies and optimizing corporate equity structure to protect both the founders and company. She has raised more than $400M from strategics, VCs, family offices, and foundations. She has developed many strategic plans, negotiated all forms of agreement, especially partnering, and contract development & manufacturing relationships, including many international deals (Asia, Europe, and Middle East). She has held senior management and board-level positions with many early-stage biotech companies. She is passionate about applying her skills to help new companies that are developing and scaling replacements for animal products (meat, seafood, dairy, leather etc). She can also help with team building by tapping into her deep network of professionals in biotech research, development, manufacturing, regulatory, and business. Her extensive experience in both the business and science of biotech start-ups makes her well positioned to be useful.

Steve molino

Steven Molino

PRINCIPAL, CLEAR CURRENT CAPITAL

Areas of expertise: Growth strategy, fundraising strategy and storytelling, competitive positioning

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Impact investor

Steven is a Principal at Clear Current Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on reinventing food through sustainable alternative protein investments. CCC’s primary investment categories are focused on plant-based food (meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs), cultivated meat, fermentation, and other mission-oriented enterprises focused on removing animals from the supply chain at scale. With CCC, Steven is responsible for leading new investment and diligence activities, portfolio management needs, and internal operations support. Steven has prior experience at leading mission-driven VC firms, as well as in the alternative investments and strategy consulting spaces. He is a Board Member at Sundial Foods and is a mentor with ProVeg Incubator and The Protein Directory and a member of The Rising Tide Collective. He received his a BS in Finance from The College of New Jersey (magna cum laude) and an MBA from Columbia Business School (Dean’s List). Key areas of expertise, as it relates to the GFI Mentor Program, are in the areas of growth strategy, fundraising strategy and storytelling, and competitive positioning.

Marjorie munneke modified

Marjorie Munneke

DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, IMPOSSIBLE FOODS

Areas of expertise: Protein functionality, structuring technologies,  food texture, process development, product commercialization and scale, sensory, R&D strategy

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Marjorie leads the Material and Texture Program at Impossible Foods, a technology enabled food company that is transforming the way our planet looks from outer space through the development of uncompromisingly delicious meat made from plants. Marjorie was integral to developing and scaling the Impossible Burger and has helped build the Impossible Foods R&D team over the last 8-years. Currently, Marjorie leads a team to develop the future of Impossible products and ingredients by developing solutions to fundamental challenges of working with plant ingredients.  Marjorie has a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Victoria University of Wellington New Zealand where she developed a novel method using laser light to manipulate droplets and measure their forces. 

Eran noah

Eran Noah

DIRECTOR OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, REMILK

Areas of expertise: Patent strategies in alternative proteins, protein biochemistry, public speaking

Location: Israel

Mentor bio

Eran Noah has held a variety of patent attorney roles since 2011, specializing in the fields of Foodtech, Biotech, medical devices, and agriculture. Eran was in charge of the IP portfolios of several start-ups and biotech companies, and was responsible for drafting patent applications and patent prosecution. Currently, Eran is the Director of Intellectual Property at Remilk. Eran Noah’s educational history includes a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Life Sciences and a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Molecular Biology from Tel Aviv University, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Ashish paradkar

Ashish Paradkar

VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT PERFECT DAY

Areas of expertise: Industrial biotechnology, including discovery and development of fermentation-based products like alternative proteins, enzymes, microbes, and secondary metabolites

Location: India

Mentor bio

Ashish serves as Vice President, R&D at Perfect Day, a consumer biology company on a mission to create a kinder, greener tomorrow by developing new ways to make the foods you love today through precision fermentation — starting in the dairy aisle. Ashish brings more than 20 years of experience in industrial biotechnology, including discovery and development of fermentation-based products like alternative proteins, enzymes, microbes, and secondary metabolites, with applications across food, feed, household care, personal care, and human health. Ashish has held various R&D leadership roles in biotechnology across multinational corporations like Novozymes, DuPont, and Procter & Gamble. Ashish received his Ph.D. from Dalhousie University and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta (both in Canada). His skills in building strong, innovative, and empowered R&D organizations, technology strategies, and open innovation are critical for the future of Perfect Day. He is passionate about the future of animal-free dairy and, with the rest of the Executive Leadership Team, is driving Perfect Day to its vision of building a more equitable, resilient, and diverse food system for all of us. Ashish is based in Bangalore, India.

Sandra porcile

Sandra Porcile

FOUNDER, PROTTEINA FOODS

Areas of expertise: Developing strategic plans, negotiation of distribution agreements, commercial strategies, integrated marketing initiatives, digital innovation, social responsibility

Location: Chile

Mentor bio

Board member | CEO

Sandra is a Board Member, Director, General Manager, Regional Manager Latin America in Marketing, Sales and Planning with over 20 years of experience in leading roles at multinational retail and consumer goods companies: Cencosud, Nike, Nestlé and Kraft. She has managed distribution of: New Balance, Quiksilver, Trek, Original Penguin, Paul Frank, among others. She has a track record of strong business results with increased levels of responsibilities, with emphasis in: developing strategic plans, negotiation of distribution agreements, commercial strategies, integrated marketing initiatives, digital innovation and social responsibility.

Tom phillips

Tom Phillips

CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, ROSLIN TECHNOLOGIES

Areas of expertise: Strategic planning, business development, pitching & fundraising, financial modeling, structuring & negotiating partnerships, team building

Location: England

Mentor bio

Alternative protein | Cellular agriculture | Cultivated meat

Tom has 18 years of commercial experience in sustainability, food and agriculture as a strategy consultant, investor and operator, including senior management and board-level positions with early-stage companies. For the past three years Tom has focused on the future of food and opportunities in alternative protein, cellular agriculture and cultivated meat in particular. As a mentor Tom works with early-stage companies on commercial topics, including: strategic planning, business development, pitching & fundraising, financial modeling, structuring & negotiating partnerships and team building.

Kristen rocca modified

Kristen Rocca

PRINCIPAL, CLIMATE AND BIOLOGY, ATLANTIC LABS

Areas of expertise: Growth strategy, fundraising strategy and storytelling, competitive positioning, investor relations, frontier tech commercialization

Location: Berlin, Germany

Mentor bio

Kristen is originally from Toronto, Canada but has been living in Europe since 2018 between Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Berlin. She has a Chemical Engineering degree from McMaster University with a specialization in Polymer Materials and Manufacturing and an MBA from IESE Business School. Kristen has worked across the energy sector in various roles including product development, operations & corporate sustainability, then moved into sustainability consulting for international corporations, and growth strategy for early-stage start-ups. She was employee #2 at Novameat, heading up growth strategy, and has spent the past four years in food system investing as a Principal with Unovis, investing against an impact and decarbonization framework. At the firm, her focus was on early-stage and growth investing in frontier technologies for the food system and supporting founders in scale-up, commercialization, GTM strategies, and fundraising efforts. Kristen is really excited about frontier tech applications for climate and earth resiliency and is now a Principal with Atlantic Labs focusing on early-stage climate and synbio investing.

Miguel serrano

Miguel Serrano

CEO, VIDYALTO

Areas of expertise: Branding, business model and point of differentiation, go-to market strategy (markets, channels, partners), storytelling, communications

Location: Switzerland

Mentor bio

Plant-based strategies for international markets | Scaling up | Transformation | Innovation

Seasoned brand and business builder with over 30 years of global experience across different channels and geographies in multinational, SMEs and various start-ups, with 12 yrs in senior leadership roles in food and food service at Nestlé creating the biggest plant-based brand in EMENA. Awards, failures, being celebrated internationally and being retrenched were an integral part of it. Let me help you to seize untapped opportunities and avoid mistakes that I have made with my teams in the past. Sounding board and mentor: Sharpening your identity, business model and point of differentiation to succeed in the market (marketing-mix modeling, purpose); applying knowledge about cross-cultural go-to market strategies (markets, channels, partners) and vast network to access; helping you to clearer understand your consumers’ needs and market dynamics/trends in plant-based and conventional food (pains/needs/wants/expectations of your target audience); developing your ownable, compelling storytelling that creates desire and sustainable value with your stakeholders; making you fit for presentations and negotiations with investors, partners, trade, etc.

Shally shanker

Shally Shanker

FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER AT AIIM PARTNERS

Areas of expertise: Fundraising, impact investing

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Shally Shanker is the founder and managing partner of AiiM Partners, which invests in businesses leveraging technology to address climate change and generate measurable social, environmental, and financial returns. 

The AiiM team, comprising investors, entrepreneurs, operators, and researchers, has invested in companies that have benefitted 3 million people worldwide with 50 percent of the assets invested in women founders and CEOs. 
A Chartered Financial Analyst®, Shally has over 22 years of investment management experience structuring and stewarding global portfolios. She has been involved with the boards of 16 portfolio investments, actively engaged in supporting emerging solutions ranging from using data for advocacy to using technology to scale innovations, and, over the last decade, mentoring women entrepreneurs in more than half of her portfolio.

Paul spinale

Paul Spinale

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF FIELD SALES – FOOD SERVICE, HUNGRY PLANET

Areas of expertise: Partnership and account development, pricing strategy, plant-based products, food industry R&D, brand development, distribution, retail, procurement, sales strategy

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Paul brings over 20 years of experience in the food service industry managing multiple sales channels and securing national accounts. He is currently the Senior Director of Field Sales – Food Service for Hungry Planet. His previous experience includes National Sales Manager, Food Service & Industrial Sales at Earth Island, Follow Your Heart. In that role, Paul held responsibility for food service and industrial sales throughout the U.S. and Canada. Prior to Follow Your Heart, he held sales and marketing leadership roles with companies including Bindi North America, Taste It Presents, Australis Aquaculture, and Conagra.

Supriya srinivasan

Supriya Srinivasan

MANAGING PARTNER, BLUE REVOLUTION FUND (HATCH)

Areas of expertise: Fundraising, financial modeling, general business strategy, corporate partnerships

Location: Germany

Mentor bio

Impact investor | Early-stage venture capital | Startup advisor | Experienced banker

Supriya is an experienced banker turned Early Stage Venture Capitalist and is currently Managing Partner at the Blue Revolution Funds (BRF)-a partnership between Hatch Blue and The Nature Conservancy. Passionate about transferring her skills to the sustainable food space, Supriya joined Hatch in early 2020 and prior to the BRF, managed the Hatch Portfolio (which includes investments in the Alt-Seafood space such as Umami Meats, The Plant Based Seafood Company and Finless Foods). Prior to Hatch, Supriya was the Global Head of a USD 76 Bn Portfolio at Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore. Her banking career also includes roles in Strategy Consulting, where she led projects around Mergers & Acquisitions for the bank and investing in incubating digital ventures. Supriya has a master’s degree in Physics from the Indian Institute of Tech-Madras, and retains a deep appreciation and curiosity for the sciences. With a desire to commercialize her scientific interests, she then secured an MBA in Finance from a leading Indian Business School. Supriya can help with preparing for fundraising and understanding term sheets; financial models; general business strategy – including building business plans; navigating partnerships with corporates; and emotional support navigating the start-up journey (Supriya is extremely passionate about helping entrepreneurs navigate this space!)

Maha tahiri

Maha Tahiri

CEO AND FOUNDER, NUTRITION SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES

Areas of expertise: Consumer driven innovation, global regulatory business strategy and international market expansion, DEI and leadership development, nutrition, sustainability, health, and wellness

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Board advisor | Nutrition and sustainability | Scaling up food tech | Innovation | Business development | Former Chief Health and Wellness Officer at General Mills

Maha is best known for developing game-changing strategies that translate science and technology into business opportunities. With deep knowledge of the global regulatory landscape, she anticipates and mitigates risk and creates competitive advantage to accelerate growth. Maha is an internationally recognized expert in the health and nutrition sector who leads at the intersection of scientific research, regulatory, and communication in public and private Fortune 300 global companies across more than 30 categories of food and beverages. Currently, Maha is CEO and Founder of Nutrition Sustainability Strategies LLC, a boutique consulting firm supporting early-stage start-ups and multibillion-dollar companies aiming to improve the food system. Previously Maha was Chief Health & Wellness Officer at General Mills. She specializes in consumer driven innovation, global regulatory business strategy and international market expansion, DEI and leadership development, nutrition, sustainability, health, and wellness.

Donn tice

Donn Tice

FOUNDER & MANAGING PARTNER, EARTHWISE SOLUTIONS, INC

Areas of expertise: Creating new consumer growth markets, ESG, leadership, team-building, fundraising, achieving profitability

Location: United States

Mentor bio

CEO | Board Member | Investor

Donn helps create new growth markets and build market-leading brands and companies. From public corporate food companies (P&G and Dreyer’s) to venture-backed startups, he has launched or scaled multiple $100m+ businesses in consumer food and energy, has raised hundreds of millions in capital for ventures, and invested over $250m in early-stage companies.

Donn’s core skills are:

  • Creating new consumer growth markets, and remaining the market leader
  • Driving profitable positive environmental and social impact
  • Catalytic, collaborative, and energizing leadership
  • Building high-performing, high-commitment teams
  • Raising the right kind and amount of capital at every stage of growth
  • Getting businesses cash positive as fast as possible and helping them stay that way.
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Leena Uabumrungjit

HEAD OF INNOVATION AND OPERATION, ALTERNATIVE PROTEIN AT THAI UNION GROUP PCL

Areas of expertise: Project management, industrialization, supply chain management

Location: Thailand

Mentor bio

Experienced in setting up new companies, new factories, and global business units with a demonstrated history of working in the food and FMCG industry. Strong project management, industrialization, and supply chain focus with more than 12 years of work experience in Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, and Germany. Passionate about the future of food, food system transformation, sustainable food, and bringing “healthy living, healthy ocean” to life. Set up global Alternative Protein business unit including building and launching the first plant-based brand for Thai Union.

Saskia versteeg

Saskia Versteeg

STRATEGY MANAGER, IMPOSSIBLE FOODS

Areas of expertise: Sustainability and impact assessment, stakeholder engagement, business analytics, science communication, and bringing energy and connection to diverse teams

Location: United States

Mentor bio

Startup and impact strategy | Food tech and nature-based solutions | Climate justice and food equity

Saskia’s goal is to make our planet and people healthier by building more sustainable and equitable food systems. As a former environmental engineer and climate physicist, she excels in translating practical ideas between tech and business teams. She is also committed to developing solutions with strong local community impact and equity, and has worked on-the-ground in Europe and Mexico in previous roles. Currently at Impossible Foods she leads mission-accelerating projects including impact strategy, nature-based climate solutions, and increasing protein access to low-income communities. Saskia’s specialties include sustainability and impact assessment, stakeholder engagement, business analytics, science communication, and bringing energy and connection to diverse teams. She’s an ardent supporter of plant-based diets, bicycle paths, women’s and immigrant rights, and climate justice.

Emil virag

Emil Virag

CONTRACT MANUFACTURING, MANUFACTURING SCALE-UP, SUPPLY CHAIN AND OPERATIONS, ENGINEERING ADVISOR, FOODANZA INC

Areas of expertise: Manufacturing, supply chain, engineering

Location: Switzerland

Mentor bio

Manufacturing scale-up | Supply chain and network strategy | Biotech and foodtech engineering | Alternative proteins | Cultivated meat | Precision fermentation

Emil acted as a global supply chain and manufacturing professional for a leading global food company with over 20 years professional experience in the food industry. He worked on building and starting up greenfield and brownfield manufacturing operations in various international markets (Europe, North America, and Asia), developed new technologies in close cooperation with major technology vendors, worked on innovation and new product development and launches under major global power brands, and expanded the company portfolio globally by working on route to markets. He offers management consulting services in the field of alternative proteins with a focus on manufacturing and contract manufacturing, supply chain, and engineering. He is keen to help the alternative protein ecosystem to grow and to make the food industry more sustainable. Do you have a great idea in the field of biotech and foodtech? Would you like to develop it successfully for global markets? Right from the start of development it is important to consider how a new product can also be produced on an industrial scale, where the product can be produced in such a way that manufacturing costs do not ruin the business and there is a reliable supply chain.

Benjamin voiry

Benjamin Voiry

HEAD OF MARKETING PLANT PROTEINS, ROQUETTE

Areas of expertise: Market analysis, innovation, formulation, value chain understanding, plant proteins and food ingredients

Location: France

Mentor bio

Benjamin Voiry is Head of Marketing for Plant Proteins at Roquette and located in the North of France. With a master’s degree in science and engineering, he has spent more than 15 years in the B2B ingredients manufacturing space and works on promoting plant-based ingredients around the world. One of Benjamin’s key focuses is on innovation to create and improve plant-based gastronomy with tasty, healthy, and sustainable food. He envisions a food system that is responsible in its local and global consideration of the planet and its population. Benjamin’s expertise includes market analysis, innovation, formulation, value chain understanding, plant proteins and food ingredients.

Noa weiss

Noa Weiss

AI AND MACHINE LEARNING CONSULTANT

Areas of expertise: Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Location: Israel

Mentor bio

Noa Weiss is an AI & Machine Learning consultant who’s been working with data for over a decade. She works with both early-stage startups and established companies, helping them design their AI strategy and build the ML projects that best fit their needs. She also leads the Israeli community of Women in Data Science, serves on the advisory board of the Modern Agriculture Foundation, utilizes ML for the preservation of whales with the Deep Voice Foundation, and is passionate about animal welfare and about promoting female entrepreneurship.

Hon mon yip

Hon Mun Yip

MANAGING DIRECTOR, KICL GROUP

Areas of expertise: CEO coaching, category development, fundraising, talent acquisition

Location: Singapore

Mentor bio

Full-time climate investor | Reimagining our future | Fixing food

Hon Mun has over thirty years of investment, operations, and board level experience with investment funds, family offices, start-ups and as a founder. He was based in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Seoul, China and Singapore performing Post M&A integration, turning-around and growing new businesses for Private Equity firms and family-owned Asia businesses. Hon Mun was the CEO of a Singapore-China government Joint Venture Sustainable farming and food security in Northeast China. He is currently the Regional MD managing assets and investment strategy for a family office. He is a partner & advisor in various Food Tech VC, holds a board seat in a China alternative protein company and a private investor in the alternative protein space.

Areas that might be of interest to the mentees: Coaching to be a CEO, How to develop a Category, Fundraising and Talent Acquisition.

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Related resources

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Entrepreneurship

Starting a business can be challenging, and GFI is here to help. Our resources support each step of planning, launching, and growing an alternative protein startup.

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GFIdeas community

GFIdeas is a community for entrepreneurs, scientists, students, and subject matter experts who are driving alternative protein innovation.

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Map of accelerators and incubators

Discover accelerators and incubators around the world that can provide early-stage resources for alternative protein entrepreneurs.

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Contract manufacturing database

This directory of co-manufacturers, pilot plants, co-packers, private labelers, and consultants offers options for contract manufacturing plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-derived meat, egg, and dairy products.