We talked with three founders of Kresko RNAtech– Silvana Spinelli, CEO, Daniela Teplitzki, COO, and Carla Borini, director of lab operations — in the basement of IndieBio last week after their company had just been voted “Killer of the Week” by their peers in Batch 14. Each week at IndieBio, the companies in our batch compete based on their top accomplishments just in the previous week as they learn to move at venture speed. Top companies are nominated by the IndieBio SF team, but the winner is ultimately chosen by a voting of their peers within the batch.
We asked about the meaning of Kresko, and how the team came together to unlock the power of RNA in fresh foods
The word Kresko originates from Esperanto, an experimental universal language intended to be easy to learn, practical to use, and to neutrally bridge cross-cultural communication. In Esperanto, Kresko means growth. This is echoed in the company’s mission: to help humans grow and adapt to the stresses of modern life through an entirely new class of nutritional supplements based on the scientifically-proven effects of dietary RNAs. While there has always been a random mix of DNA and RNA in the foods we eat, the effects have been largely overlooked in modern society. Now, Kresko is helping us learn another powerful universal language – the language of nucleic acids in the food we eat.
[Sierra]: Silvana, you’ve worked your entire career researching at the forefront of RNA biology. What spurred you to make this shift from a professor to founding a startup?
[Silvana]: “I was at this point in my academic career where I felt truly stuck on how to make a lasting impact. I then had an opportunity to work with an IndieBio company called ArgenTAG, and saw firsthand how scientists had a major impact by translating research into concrete applications.”
[Sierra]: And this inspired you to join GRIDX, the premier Argentinian biotech accelerator?
[Silvana]: “Exactly. It honestly felt like I opened my eyes one day and I had a truly unique company. I knew the science of RNA in food was a wide open space where I could have a major impact and couldn’t go back to my life in academia. Instead I wanted to use scientific insights to transform human wellness in modern society.”
[Mohan]: So how did the full Kresko dream team assemble? Carla and Daniella, was the decision to jump into a startup as clear for you as it was for Silvana?
[Carla]: “Not exactly…I was really hesitant to join Kresko at first. Diving into a startup was a scary concept for me too. But once I spent some time talking and working hands-on with Silvana, the right choice became obvious.”
[Daniela]: “Jumping into entrepreneurship was much quicker for me. I had actually started a social media marketing business when I was 16 and by the time I was in law school I had 15 clients all over the world. But this came to a grinding halt when the pandemic hit.”
[Mohan]: That must have been tough for you. What linked you to Kresko?
[Daniela]: “I wasn’t going to let one setback stop me from my entrepreneurial passion – I joined GRIDX and met Silvana there! Kresko’s technology is something special I didn’t see in other companies. I quickly realized how their fresh approach to human wellness can open up an endless set of possibilities for the many ills of modern life.”
We could see even in this short interaction how the Kresko team is really pushing the spirit of growth, both in their personal lives and in their unique company focused on unlocking the power of RNA in fresh foods.
We dove into Kresko’s relationship with IndieBio, which began earlier than any company in the batch
In 2021, Managing Director Po Bronson had interviewed Silvana as a small RNA expert for a chapter in his latest book, Decoding the World.
[Sierra]: So Po found you for his book but was so intrigued by the core technology that he wanted to explore an IndieBio investment – how did this feel for you guys?
[Silvana]: “It was an amazing experience. But our company was not ready at all for VC. All we had was an idea, we needed the data to back it up!”
By early 2022 Kresko had enough data to hold the attention of the IndieBio team, but the road to Batch 14 took plenty of team flexibility and pivoting based on feedback received.
[Daniela]: “We know several founders who have gone successfully through the IndieBio program and they have been our biggest role models throughout this process. Getting into IndieBio was a huge deal for us!”
[Mohan]: How has Kresko “Kresko’d” throughout the IndieBio program to now be voted the Killer of the Week?
[Silvana]: “This week we were able to create our first consumer product prototype. After months of generating key data and iterating with various options, we were able to concentrate the power of RNA in fresh milk into a single pill.”
While this team has much further to go to realize their dreams of becoming an upstart new entrant in a competitive direct-to-consumer supplement market, we could see that this week marked a crucial milestone in their growth progression.
After digressing a bit around the team’s love for traveling and experiencing new cultures, we dug deeper into their ongoing journey.
[Silvana]: “Our team has focused on developing our first potent supplement. However, our true secret lies in the high-throughput dietary RNA identification and screening platform. We are operationalizing a clear roadmap to develop a large portfolio of novel supplements with proven scientific basis and efficacy in diverse applications for human health.”
The road ahead will of course require continued iteration and adaptation, but we have no doubt the team is up for the challenge. We can’t wait to see how this team will have Kresko’d next time we chat.
Stay tuned for a deep dive into next week’s Killer!