AgFunder Closes First In Series Of Food & Ag Tech Funds Enabled By AI
Online venture capital platform AgFunder, which builds its own technology and A.I. to support its investment team, has raised a $2.25 million fund from the AgFunder community to invest in transformational food and agriculture startups (click here to signup for early access to invest in the next fund). The fund, which will co-invest alongside AgFunder, closed at the end of March, one month after opening to AgFunder’s global network. The fund has already made five investments.
Nearly 40 accredited and institutional investors contributed to the fund including personal investments by senior and C-level executives at some of the major food and agriculture companies who have been following AgFunder for years. Other individual investors include Jason Camm, Chief Medical Officer of Peter Thiel’s family office Thiel Capital.
Institutional investors include SYSTEMIQ, an advisory and investment firm dedicated to the creation of sustainable economic systems in energy, materials, and land use; impact investment fund C9 Capital; and a major US grain merchant.
“We are investing in AgFunder’s Co-Investment Fund due to the quality of deal flow and their expertise in global agtech. We have already begun working closely with the team and hope to contribute to the fund’s future success,” said Ryan Gralia from SYSTEMIQ.
The co-investment fund will invest alongside AgFunder’s own internal fund that counts AgFunder’s founders, investors, advisors, and leading agrifood tech entrepreneurs including Sid Gorham who sold Granular to DuPont (Now Corteva) last year for $300m, Rob Saik who sold Agri-Trend to Trimble, ex-Portfolio Managers of Cargill’s BlackRiver, and Kip Tom who was recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. for Food and Ag.
AgFunder will be launching its next co-investment fund in the fall.
“You shouldn’t have to be a Silicon Valley VC to access to some of the best investment opportunities transforming our agrifood tech system. By giving our global network of accredited and institutional investors an opportunity to invest alongside us through these co-investment funds we open the agrifood tech sector to a wider global audience of investors and add value through an engaged ecosystem,” said Rob Leclerc, CEO of AgFunder. “We’ve always believed that the smartest, most value-add investors for the industry are successful entrepreneurs and food and ag professionals. This is an opportunity to tap into that talent pool and it gives us an incredibly smart and dialed-in scout and mentor network.”
The co-investment fund will invest alongside the internal fund in the next 10-12 startups that AgFunder invests in, operating across the value chain, from farm to fork. AgFunder is targeting startups at seed to Series B stage.
The co-investment fund’s first publicly announced portfolio company is Connecterra, the AI-powered dairy technology startup, which we announced in May. The fund has made another four investments in food tech, ag genomics, and remote sensing, all of which will be announced in due course.
AgFunder’s unique model allows it to tap into its global network of over 50,000 members and subscribers to source opportunities, assist with due diligence, and facilitate business development for its portfolio companies. AgFunder’s software engineers are also developing a range of technologies utilizing artificial intelligence to help identify new opportunities, speed up due diligence, analyze markets, and provide support for its portfolio companies.
“We believe that there is an enormous opportunity investing in early-stage companies that are developing digital and deep technology solutions for the many problems inherent across the food system. Our global platform and AI-enabled data engine allow us to compare technologies across multiple geographies, informing our investment decision-making process, and ultimately deliver superior returns for our fund investors,” said AgFunder CIO, Michael Dean.
“The days of VC as a lifestyle business are over, and in 10-years Limited Partners will be asking VCs how many engineers they have on their team,” added Rob Leclerc. “It’s not enough anymore to rely on brains, referrals, chance encounters or one’s ‘Rolodex’. This industry is moving too fast and so to drive superior returns we knew we needed a technology edge to help source, diligence, and support our companies. Ultimately we’re running AgFunder like a startup by building technology in-house to do VC smarter.”