Agtech investment conversations: less hype and more authentic

I get frustrated at conferences when keynote speakers and panellists just tell you how wonderful everything is. That doesn’t help anyone. We learn from the challenges and hard lessons. We feel less of a failure when other businesses open up about difficulties raising. Thank you to Gerard Chia for your refreshing insights into the challenges you recently faced in raising your second VC fund – $170million for Clay Capital fka VisVires New Protein was an immense effort!


5 key take aways from the “Investing from Farm to Fork” session at Singapore International Agri-Food Week that particularly resonated with me:


1.       All agrifood tech must have a climate impact – its a given now, not a nice to have. This is obvious when you consider that most agtech seeks to improve efficiency and utilize resources better. Climate impact is also not possible without a financial benefit – commercial incentive is critical to impact at scale.


2.       VCs are looking to invest in companies that have a clear ‘moat’ with their competitive advantage – this can be hard to define with SaaS companies.


3.       Growth funding is hard to get – early stage is still easier. This continues to be an issue and the reason for the so called ‘valley of death’ (also heard called ‘valley of uncertainty’ which I quite like!) and why support is often needed from Government and investors to help de-risk testing innovations at commercial scale.


4.       Focusing on the value proposition (i.e. how you are creating value for customers/solving a critical pain point) continues to be essential when selling to farmers. A great example was shared from unicorn eFishery on how they successfully built trust with Indonesian farmers with their initial product and then expanded services/products – don’t over sell initially.


5.       The ultimate end goal for many agtech startups is to be acquired by Corporates. Therefore, we need Corporates to be more engaged in the innovation ecosystem so startups are set up for future acquisition and can play an early role in their supply chain. Clearly there is a role for Corporates to play in getting startups through the ‘valley of uncertainty’?

WA Stand at SIAW

Investing in #agtech needs more real conversations like what I was pleased to hear at Singapore International Agri-Food Week. We all know many of the real conversations also take place in the networking and expo areas – not always on the stage!


This is why I’m really excited about AgriStart hosting a pre AgriFutures evokeAG investor tour on the 18th and 19th February 2024: see EOI. The tour goal is simple – experience sustainable agtech innovations while immersing in the beautiful south west of WA. This will provide the perfect setting for indepth and informal conversations between investors, startups, producers, corporates and innovation ecosystem supporters.


Tour highlights:

·       Visit to Fremantle Seaweed – The Seaweed Solution to climate change.

·       Option to snorkel the new underwater sculpture park at the end of the iconic Busselton Jetty , or catch the train instead, with a networking dinner in the underwater aquarium 1.8km out to sea

·       Overnight at the brand new Hilton Hotelon the Busselton foreshore

·       Strategic investment workshop, focused on opportunities for collaborative investment and improving deal flow.

·       Visit to the new Food Technology Facility at FIPWA

Busselton Jetty

The tour will be back in time for the evokeAg investor dinner, and will be great a way to start your evokeAg experience in WA.


For more details about the tour please contact me directly [email protected]. Numbers are strictly limited so submit your EOI early. Subsidised tickets are available for producers and startups currently raising and will be selected from the EOIs.

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