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Uh, can you spell that again? Belgium’s AgroSavfe rebrands as Biotalys

December 10, 2019

Flying into Belgium is a spelling-bee calamity for pretty much anyone who does not speak both French and Flemish. Let’s imagine you have perfected the spelling or pronouncing of French words like ecureuil? Well, then move onto Flemish words like schoenpoetsborsteltje.

Belgium’s startups are not always so easy to spell either. For Ghent-based AgroSavfe, dire misspells have been an unfortunate but perhaps an avoidable feature since its founding and naming back in 2013.

“It was meant to be a combination of saving crops and protecting safely,” says CEO Patrice Sellès, describing to AFN by phone how his crop protection company first chose its name, which he admitted many had found hard to spell properly.

So far, though, a clunky name has been no barrier to fundraising success. Sellès’ team raised its 35 million Series C earlier this year, as my colleague Jessica Pothering reported — all despite its name looking like a garbled typo.

Investors have probably focused less on nomenclature, and more on the potential viability of AgroSavfe’s tech platform for the identification and development of novel, targeted protein-based biocontrol solutions across multiple indications. But still, the great thing about names is they can always be changed, and AgroSavfe has decided this might be a good idea. On Tuesday, the company announced that it was changing its name to a slightly simpler name as it opens its US subsidiary and doubles down on building out its products and branding further down the food supply chain.

Henceforth, the company will be known as … Biotalys.

Alright, so still scope for a few spelling mishaps. But on the whole, a slightly easier name to remember, and less likely to prompt a Google search result of ‘did you mean…?’

Unveiling the new corporate identity to AFN, Sellès reckons the new brand of Biotalys is able to reflect “our mission to work towards a more sustainable food supply chain and our ambition to transform food and crop protection with our unique, effective and safe protein-based biocontrol solutions. The new branding comes at an exciting time when we are approaching the final stage of development of our first biofungicide, BioFun-1, which is expected to enter the US market in 2022. BioFun-1 will initially target the fruits and vegetables segment, and its unique mode of action and product characteristics will enable to protect food crops from key pests and diseases, as well as extend shelf life to reduce food waste, which is a major challenge globally.”

The name Biotalys, he added, comes from the company’s desire to be a global talisman (should we say talysman?) for food and crop protection as it journeys from field to fork.

Asked to give advice on branding and rebranding for startups, Sellès said there is no easy answer.

“It’s extremely difficult,” he said, “whatever name you come to select, you can never please everybody.”

Have any notable stories of a startup rebranding? Send them our way to [email protected]

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