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EXCLUSIVE: AgTalent, the “LinkedIn for regenerative ag,” clinches seed funding

August 15, 2019

The founders of recruitment platform AgTalent have much to toast to in their craft brewery-rich town of Margaret River, in western Australia. The startup has secured A$150,000 ($101,000) from ASX-listed Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) in exchange for a 28% stake in the company. 

AgTalent is a digital marketplace for training, recruitment and expert services in the sustainable and regenerative agriculture sector. Drawing similarities to LinkedIn, the platform provides agriculture industry workers with support from training to employment, while it offers employers access to a specialist talent pool of staff, contractors and consultants.

The angel round investment gives the startup financial ammunition to finalize development of its platform, as well as the marketing campaign for an official launch phase.

“This investment will take the company into its commercialization phase and allow it to start addressing the talent crisis slowing the global growth of sustainable and regenerative agriculture,” co-founder Lachy Ritchie also told AFN. We are currently in our pre-revenue stage and the focus of this investment is to validate the business model to prove the case for a further capital raise in 12-18 months.”

“Taking an equity position in AgTalent presents an exciting opportunity for us to contribute to the agriculture movement, while assuring the long-term talent needs of our growing farmland portfolio and food brand are met,” said WOA’s managing director Ben Cole.

The deal gives WOA first rights for AgTalent’s future funding rounds.

Cautionary journey

The process of raising seed funding took AgTalent’s founders roughly a year, Ritchie said. Over that time, he focused on building ties with like-minded organizations, while “softly scoping” for values alignment.

“In our experience, Australia has a very risk averse early-stage investment culture, until a business model has been validated,” Ritchie observed, adding that there is a “serious lack” of VC and angel funding for agritech ventures. Most of the prospective investors he spoke to were only interested in joining in later-stage funding rounds.

That said, AgTalent feels positive about its prospects as a niche platform. “Specialist digital recruitment platforms are emerging in a multitude of industries, but no one has yet focused on this area,” Ritchie explained. “Our training and expert services side of the business is primarily geared towards creating a global audience for our brand and getting early access to new and upcoming talent. Essentially, it will give us a huge pool of talent to draw from.” 

What’s next?

In addition to the platform’s final development stages, the A$100,000 seed round will go towards AgTalent’s marketing campaign to recruit users on both sides of the marketplace. The campaign will include a voucher program, offering $500 to farmers that undertake training in regenerative agriculture. 

Ritchie explained that training side of the platform would be a key strategy to building a pipeline of job seekers for the platform. “It will be a much stronger value proposition when we approach companies looking for staff,” he added.

AgTalent training programs and jobs are concentrated in Australia and the US. The company is looking to extend its reach into Europe next. 

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