The holidays offer a time to reflect on the closing year as well as a time to consider the things to come. This year, AgFunderNews reached out to the agrifood tech universe to find out what investors and startup execs are hoping to leave behind in 2018 as well as a glimpse of their wish list for 2019.
While some folks relish the holidays, others loathe the long travel days, awkward in-law interactions, and the oh-so-dreaded Christmas music. For our first installment, we asked everyone to tap into their inner Grinch to share their 2018 pet peeves, overplayed tech trends, and the bad habits they hope we banish in 2019.
Got something Grinchy to add? Get in touch: [email protected]. We will update this piece with the best 2018 agrifood tech Grinch grievances throughout the holiday period.
Sanjeev Krishnan, CIO and Managing Director, S2G Ventures
“I think one thing we have to be careful about is not assuming that valuation is the main driver of partner decisions. Syndicate dynamics are very important and valuation is one of many aspects if you are choosing a lead. Managing a syndicate for an entrepreneur is complex. There are different perspectives, worldviews, fund sizes, and approaches on risk. If you are raising money at a high valuation, you better deliver. Oftentimes, because of the nature of food and agriculture, this delivery is delayed and I think it doesn’t get fully reflected. Everyone wants an up round, but you have to be careful. ‘More money, more problems,’ is what they say.”
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Rob Trice, Founder, Mixing Bowl, and Partner, Better Food Ventures
“There were maybe two things that annoyed me the most. One is any time a startup talks about our need to feed 9 billion people by 2050. The reality as an investor is that I don’t want to solve problems that will occur in 2050; I want to address things that are happening in the market now. The second is ‘reincubated’ companies. We have seen the rise of food and agtech incubators [including accelerators], but can someone tell me why startups go into one, come out, and then go into another incubator to be reincubated? I don’t know what is driving that but it’s a new phenomenon.”
Abi Ramanan, CEO, ImpactVision
I would say that over-investment in some startups — i.e. Softbank in Plenty or, to an extent, investments in Apeel Sciences, Impossible Foods etc, — distorts the market for companies who have competitive solutions, which can seem unfair, particularly when a lot of those well-funded technologies are yet unproven in the market.
Robbert Mica, CoFounder, VanderSat
“What makes us pretty grumpy is huge rounds [in the satellite imaging space] with all sorts of constellations being launched and those companies making huge claims, too. And most of those claims are based on no scientific evidence or anything. Just a big round with huge claims. There’s a lot of people getting caught up in hype when the fact of the matter is that remote sensing is a highly scientific field, so you need a highly scientific basis to start a company in this field.”
Jurriaan Ruys, CEO at Sensoterra
“One of the things that we had expected last year that hasn’t happened yet is the extent to which we put a value on scarce inputs like water. There are still situations where the amount of water we use is not sustainable and we need to consider the extent to which we reward growers who are efficient in resource use, which could be stronger. This is definitely also on my wishlist going into next year.”
Michael Dean, Founding Partner, AgFunder
“There has been a growing number of new startup competitions, which is great if they work, but there have been at least a couple that have not kept their word and did not invest in the startups that won. This is not good for startup morale and confidence in the sector.”