When it comes to the investment landscape, Rabobank’s Food & Agri Innovation Fund Director Richard O’Gorman, has a finger on the pulse. Launched in May 2017, his fund offers early stage equity financing to companies in the food and ag space, but, Richard insists, funding is only the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about the fund and the types of startups they’re interested in via the quick video above or read on for a deep dive with Richard.
“We look for businesses that have the most to gain from leveraging the Rabo network, expertise and knowledge, because the fund offers benefits that go over and above simple funding, Richard told us. “We’re not just building value in companies, we’re backing people and spearheading ideas that support bigger missions around food, waste reduction, sustainability and growing the food industry ecosystem”.
So, what advice does do you have for entrepreneurs?
- Dissect the landscape and target the right type of investor
You want an investor who understands the food and ag industry and where your business fits in that world. Think about what they can offer beyond financing. Consider market knowledge, experience and network access, because those things can add value that money can’t buy.
- Make your business model bulletproof
Having absolute clarity about what your company does, where you want it to go and what you need to get there will benefit you in your search for investment. It’s also useful to have some understanding of how the investment process works and how to target the investors who can make the biggest difference for your business and growth.
We hear the line ‘collaboration is key’ all the time, but there’s enormous benefit in stakeholders working as a community, particularly because their objectives are co-dependent. FoodBytes! offers the ideal forum for startups, investors and corporates to work together, and the success stories demonstrate just how much impact the right partnerships can have in this space.
“It’s worth saying that it’s natural for a company’s needs to change over time, which often means a changing investor base as the company develops,” says Richard. “The most important thing is understanding where the milestones lie in that journey, and marrying the company development points with the right investment level and investor make-up at the right time.”
What types of startups is the Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund interested in?
The fund has invested in four startups to date in a range of ag segments, including FoodBytes! alum Vence, Biolumic, Enkockem and Telesense. “The wave of protein products and the clean meat market are high on our agenda, along with non-chemical solutions in farming,” says Richard. “The logistics chain is another area we’re keen to invest in, so businesses innovating in packaging, recycling and biodegradable packaging products are on our radar.”