AgFunder is an online investment platform for the agri-food technology sector. The company also has a media & research arm, including the industry leading news site for the sector AgFunderNews. As an industry leader with a mission to increase investment in the food and agriculture industry, partnering with FoodBytes! was a natural fit. In fact, Rob Leclerc, CEO of AgFunder was a recent judge at FoodBytes! Boulder. Here, Rob discusses the new, social news sharing site called #feedit and why it’s important in building the agri-food tech space.
Food and agriculture is a global and fragmented industry.
This makes it hard to create a center of gravity or a ‘Silicon Valley’ for agri-food technologies that can bring together a community, give it a voice, and share ideas and best practices. Sure, we have conferences, but a good conference may only bring together a few hundred people once or twice a year. To build a great community and ecosystem, we need the ability to engage with a few hundred thousand people daily.
Great markets are built on thriving communities and ecosystems, and while we don’t have a physical Silicon Valley to bring the industry together, we can use social media to serve as the connective tissue.
This is why we launched #feedit: a social news sharing site for innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment in agri-food technology. If you’ve heard of Reddit or Y-Combinator’s HackerNews, then #feedit is easy to understand. If not, let me explain.
#feedit is a platform for the agri-food technology community to share and comment on the best news and blog articles from around the world about technology. Participants can show off and get feedback on a new technology, or ask the community a question.
In turn, the community can respond, and by upvoting the best submissions and making comments, participants curate content by percolating the best news to the top of the page. As time takes hold and news turns stale, reduced engagement pushes submissions down and off the first page. This is survival of the fittest.
To encourage community building, contributors earn so-called ‘karma points’ for their contribution to the site. When someone likes your submission or comment, they can upvote, which awards a karma point to the contributor. As members accumulate more karma points, they gain access to additional privileges like downvoting or more advanced moderating capabilities. These super-members, as well as AgFunder moderators, can help steer the community to high-value discussions if necessary to sanitize the site from trolls and spam.
As members increase their karma, they can also unlock additional VIP benefits such as conference discounts, early access to reports and data, and AgFunder swag. For entrepreneurs, their contributions and karma scores will be taken into account as we review their objective achievements and consider their companies for investment. We’ll also be looking at #feedit contributions and karma scores to identify industry experts and mentors when we launch the AgFunder Mentor & Expert Network in due course.
What excites me most about #feedit is that it can give voice to all stakeholders and it offers a way to quickly disseminate and reach a consensus on new ideas and opinions. Importantly, because #feedit is open to all stakeholders, it can also be a platform for farmers and other tech customers to engage with entrepreneurs and ensure that technologies are solving real problems.