This episode is perhaps a tad awkward as I interview my boss Rob Leclerc, founding partner of AgFunder, but Rob was as insightful as ever, sharing his thoughts on working in and around the agriculture sector for the past decade.
Rob first started working with our other founding partner Michael Dean when they set up an agriculture business in West Africa at the start of the decade before founding AgFunder in 2013. Rob remembers looking into purchasing satellite imagery of the land they were working on at the time and it being incredibly expensive and “an analog process.”
“You think about just how much has changed in the last 10 years; the infrastructure of technology today just allows us to do so many more things,” he says. “We were at the tail end of the deployment phase of technology and now we’re really starting to enter the deployment phase where technology is rapidly diffusing through many industries. This is what Marc Andreessen talked about in 2011 when he said software was eating the world.”
We talk about agtech acquisitions – or lack thereof – by the agrichemical majors and why that is; “they should be positioning themselves as technology companies to operate and survive, but it’s a bit of a tragedy because no one is making those steps,” he says.
We move onto food trends and Rob tells me which he thinks are hot and not, including meal kits, alternative proteins, insects, and which technology trends he is most excited about for the next year and decade.
“In 10 years from now, we’re going to look at food labels for the functional properties of the product; what is this food going to do for me?” For the last 50-60 years, we’ve optimized around convenience and taste and Rob talks about the shift towards looking at food as medicine, but like the Chinese do.
Hear how Rob’s mother-in-law inspired this thinking, how AgFunder is building its investment portfolio that’s now 31 companies strong, some of his biggest lessons since starting to invest, and who his favorite AgFunder team member is!
You can listen below or on your favorite podcasting app. Enjoy!