Editor’s Note: Tyler and Tim Nuss are founders of The Modern Acre, an online community and weekly podcast focused on highlighting the business of food and agriculture. In partnership with AgFunder, the Nuss’s have produced a 4-part series including the story behind us, the online VC, as well as three of our portfolio companies. Enjoy!
The first AgFunder portfolio company we highlighted was Brightseed. We talked with Sofia Elizondo who is the co-founder and COO of the technology company. Sofia has an impressive background in CPG, pharmaceutical, and technology companies. She co-founded Brightseed to focus on improving the nutrition of our food. The team has developed a computational search engine, Forager, which can identify plant compounds that can be instrumental in returning nutrition to food. In the podcast, we learn more about the company, their partnership with AgFunder, and where they are in the product’s development.
Brightseed solutions combine machine learning and systems biology to discover naturally occurring compounds with proven clinical benefits for health and wellness. This can help rebalance human metabolism, enable customers to reduce risk and ameliorate consequences of chronic diseases, and allow individuals to better process harmful excess fat.
This leads into one of the top takeaways from our conversation with Sofia which is the scientific evidence of ‘food as medicine’. While the concept is not new – “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is a quote often ascribed to Hippocrates – technology today is allowing us to understand the science behind this better than ever. Brightseed’s model supports this extremely well and we are happy to see them leading the way for others in this space.
Below is a short excerpt from The Modern Acre podcast, which you can listen to below, download here or on your favorite podcasting app.
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Tyler Nuss: Where are you in the stage of your product development and how long has the company been around?
We started the company two years ago. We’ve built a computational intelligence called Forgarer to discover bioactive molecules in plants. We’ve discovered our first bioactive and we are taking it through development to take it to market in its first format next year.
Brightseed makes bioactives accessible to partners in food, beverage, supplement space so they can deliver the benefits of plant based bioactives to consumers in different formats. We also make our technology available. Forager is a tool that can be used for multiple purposes at a time. It’s like google search engine. I can search on Google or the three of us can search on google at the same time and Google doesn’t mind because it’s computation.
We go to market in both of these ways. We make our bioactives accessible for partners to put in their food products and we partner for collaborative discovery and development with partners that are searching for a particular health benefit, or for bioactives in particular plant sources.
Tim Nuss: How do you go about identifying partners in the food and ag space? How does marketing play a role in that aspect?
Many of us think of marketing equals branding and while that is the last part of it, I like to think of marketing as the market. Who are you servicing? Who is your market and why do they care? With those questions is how we address the best partners for Brightseed. We know that we have bioactive discoveries that are relevant for certain types of consumers and then we partner with companies that seek to address and to service these kinds of consumers.
Ultimately, Brightseed has done very little work in branding. We’ve been very heads down operating and getting our technology in bioactive development. But, yes, branding is at the end the cherry on top.
Tyler Nuss: Can you talk through your relationship with AgFunder and your partnership?
AgFunder has been a fantastic partner. They invested in our Series Seed and also in our Series A. They are a very unique player because they have this vantage point of the entire food and agtech space; they are the main marketplace for information. The fact that they are also an investor in the space is brilliant. Both Rob Leclerc and Michael Dean have been fantastic supporters and their team broadly. It’s been really a pleasure to work with them.