Impossible Foods Appoints Industry Veteran Sheetal Shah as SVP, Product and Operations

  • Formerly at Verifone and Motorola, Shah has spent more than a decade scaling up tech companies to achieve breakthrough growth
  • Shah will help Impossible Foods dramatically increase production in its Oakland plant -- and continue breakout growth with new manufacturing capacity

Sheetal Shah, SVP, Product and Operations (Photo: Business Wire)

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--()--Impossible Foods announced today the hiring of tech industry veteran Sheetal Shah as Senior Vice President, Product and Operations.

Effective immediately, Shah will oversee important business units of the food tech startup including product, operations, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics.

Shah was previously Chief Operations Officer at Verifone, where he oversaw global operations including supply chain, customer care, quality and program management for customers in more than 150 countries.

Before that, Shah served in numerous leadership roles at Motorola Mobility, a $10 billion mobile device company acquired by Google. Among other positions, Shah served as Chief Procurement Officer, responsible for end-to-end global supplier management including all commercial and operational aspects including supplier new technology readiness.

“I’m a huge fan of the Impossible Burger and am thrilled to join a company whose mission I believe in passionately,” Shah said. “Impossible Foods created the hottest product in the hottest category of food -- plant-based meat. My goal is to accelerate the company’s scaleup to meet today’s unprecedented demand and long-term growth.”

Scorching demand

Impossible Foods has experienced tremendous growth since the launch of the award-winning and “shockingly good” Impossible Burger 2.0 in January 2019. The Impossible Burger is now sold in more than 7,000 restaurants in the United States and Asia.

Growth has come from every sales category where Impossible Foods does business -- independent restaurants, large restaurant chains such as White Castle, Qdoba and Red Robin, and non-commercial outlets such as theme parks, museums, stadiums and college campuses nationwide.

A 59-unit regional test of the Impossible Whopper at Burger King restaurants in St. Louis is going exceedingly well. Burger King plans to bring the Impossible Whopper to all 7,200 US restaurants at the end of 2019.

In addition to an increasing number of outlets that sell the Impossible Burger, many restaurants are expanding the number of items made from the versatile plant-based meat; average per-store volume is increasing. Sales have increased more than three-fold in Asia over the past two months alone.

As a result, Impossible Foods is increasing the number of hours of operation and headcount at the plant in Oakland, Calif. The plant now employs about 70 full-time employees and is aggressively recruiting additional new hires to work in Oakland for a variety of functions, including workers for a planned third shift.

In addition, Impossible Foods plans to install a second production line in July that should double current capacity. The company expects the second line to be fully staffed and ramped up in the fall. (See job openings here.)

Food tech startup with unusually diverse team

Shah started his career at Motorola as a software engineer, where he designed and shipped automatic speech recognition and voice annotation technology for Motorola handsets. He holds multiple patents.

Shah, who lives in California’s Silicon Valley, has Bachelors and Masters degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Florida. He reports directly to Impossible Foods’ President Dennis Woodside, who joined the company earlier this year with nearly 25 years of professional experience at both startups and publicly traded multinationals.

Impossible Foods’ executive team includes executives with an unusually diverse range of backgrounds, including government, academia and the food sector, as well as “hypergrowth” startups Dropbox, Google and Tesla.

Shah and Woodside are the latest high-profile appointments at Impossible Foods. Earlier this year, Impossible Foods announced the appointment of its seventh board member, Vanessa Wittman, a former public-company chief financial officer now serving as chair of Impossible Foods’ finance committee.

Delicious, nutritious, ubiquitous

Impossible Foods uses modern science and technology to create delicious and nutritious food, help restore natural ecosystems, and feed a growing population sustainably. The company makes meat from plants – with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals.

To satisfy the global demand for meat at a fraction of the environmental impact, Impossible Foods developed a far more sustainable, scalable, and affordable way to make meat, without the catastrophic environmental impact of livestock.

Shortly after its founding in 2011, Impossible Foods’ scientists discovered that one molecule — “heme” — is uniquely responsible for the explosion of flavors that results when meat is cooked. Impossible Foods’ scientists genetically engineer and ferment yeast to produce a heme protein naturally found in plants, called soy leghemoglobin.

The heme in Impossible Burger is identical to the essential heme humans have been consuming for hundreds of thousands of years in meat — and while the Impossible Burger delivers all the craveable depth of beef, it uses far fewer resources because it’s made from plants, not animals.

When consumers buy an Impossible Burger instead of a burger from cows, they reduce their impact across every significant environmental category, including use of land and freshwater, greenhouse gas emissions, and aquatic pollution from runoff.

According to the objective, third party-validated report from Quantis, Impossible Burger is vastly better for the planet than ground beef from cows. Compared to beef from cows, Impossible Burger requires 87% less water and releases 89% less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Impossible Burger also spares 96% more land and habitat for nature and biodiversity, and it contributes 92% less water contamination, the major cause of “dead zones” in our oceans.

According to a study published in the Journal Science, eating less animal meat is the single most effective way one can help reduce his or her impact on earth. Every person who swaps out one pound of ground beef for one pound of Impossible’s plant-based meat can personally save seven pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, 290 square-feet of land and 90 gallons of water.

About Impossible Foods

Based in California’s Silicon Valley, Impossible Foods makes delicious, nutritious meat and dairy products from plants — with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The privately held company was founded in 2011 by Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Stanford University and a former Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Investors include Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Google Ventures, Horizons Ventures, UBS, Viking Global Investors, Temasek, Sailing Capital, and Open Philanthropy Project.

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Jessica Appelgren


Jessica Appelgren