New VC Firm to Invest in California Agtech

New VC Firm to Invest in California Agtech

New investment firm Impact Venture Capital is leveraging its strategic location in California to identify investment opportunities in agriculture technology.

prNoGnA.jpgAgtech is a natural fit for the VC startup, given the firm’s proximity to Silicon Valley with offices in both Sacramento and Burlingame, and Impact is actively scouting and vetting opportunities locally and beyond.

Launched about a month ago, Impact Venture Capital was founded by Jack Crawford, Dixon Doll and Eric Ball with a mandate to invest in areas where information technology (IT) converges with large global markets, including agriculture.

“Being located in Northern California, responsible for $20 billion of ag exports each year, and up the street from UC Davis, the global leader in ag research with a $700M aggregate R&D budget, we are highly enthusiastic about the ag sector and impressed with the new companies we are seeing the information technology/ag convergence area of innovation,” Crawford tells  GAI News .

Crawford, who in addition to being a venture capitalist is an entrepreneur in his own right, recruited John Finegan, a 35-year agriculture industry veteran and founder of agriculture consulting firm Beck Ag, to advise on the agtech opportunities. 

The areas of focus span water management technology, information technology and data as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) and precision ag, and ag biotech, for instance.

In addition to agriculture, Impact Venture Capital invests in healthcare, energy, security, and education. Meanwhile, the pipeline for potential ag-tech investments is growing.

Investment Opportunity

Impact Venture Capital is currently looking at companies that are focused on the farm data management area.

“We’re based in California, so irrigation or water sensor technology are an area with big opportunities going forward,” says Finegan, pointing to watering systems that are placed into the field. “They’re permanent probes and they actually run the irrigation system,” he says. “You’re only watering when the plants need it. It’s a more efficient way to deliver water.” Desalination is another area on Impact Venture Capital’s radar.

Indeed, water will be a “big battle” in agriculture over the coming decades, explains Finegan, given the potential implications from global warming and droughts. “We’ve had three years of drought in California. Folks are looking at any way they can to reduce their water usage,” he says, adding that there’s not enough water available to use it unwisely.

Finegan suggests Silicon Valley entrepreneurs might want to take a page out of the book of a company that’s done this before, such as century-old Pioneer Seed. According to Finegan, Pioneer spends millions of dollars developing a seed hybrid or chemical. 

He goes on to explain that in agriculture, the game is all about getting people to try a product. He offers the following advice to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are taking on ag tech:

“Agtech is not going to sell on Facebook. This is a belly-to-belly type of business to change behaviors. You have to work with individual farmers almost one on one,” says Finegan.

Impact Venture Capital remains in the early fundraising stages, though they’ve already reached the milestone of the fund’s first close (the first investment was a non-agriculture startup.) Investors include limited partners from family offices, university endowments, corporation and pension funds, for instance. Crawford declined to attach a size to the fund until after the final close. 

Source: Global AgInvesting