Western Growers and S2G Ventures' AgSharks Competition Offers $250,000+ Investment Opportunities for AgTech Startups
- by Robert Schaulis
IRVINE, CA - Offering startups the chance to compete for more than $250,000 in investment capital, Western Growers has partnered with S2G Ventures to host the 2018 AgSharks™ Competition. The challenge offers entrepreneurs and startups who are developing innovative solutions in food, ag tech, and agriculture to support the development and growth of their businesses.
“The farmers who grow our vegetables, fruits, and nuts have never faced as challenging of a regulatory climate as they do today,” said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “It’s now more important than ever to invest in innovation solutions and technologies that will play a crucial role in helping farmers grow more with less. We welcome S2G Ventures as our partner in providing the resources needed to fuel technology that will solve real world problems.”
According to a press release, during Western Growers’ 93rd Annual Meeting in Palm Desert on October 30, 2018, five finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of AgSharks, consisting of venture capitalists and fresh produce farmers. Judges will decide on the spot whether and how much to invest, and participants will then have the opportunity to accept the offer, negotiate, or decline.
“We are excited to partner with Western Growers for the second consecutive year in finding the next great set of entrepreneurs delivering innovative solutions to the farm,” said Chuck Templeton, Managing Director of S2G Ventures. “The Western Growers partnership offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn directly about the challenges facing growers. We are excited to invest behind innovative solutions that support more sustainable and nutritious food.”
AgSharks premiered last October in a competition that saw Hazel Technologies and AgVoice receive a $2.25 million total investment offer from S2G Ventures. Hazel Technologies went on to raise a $3.26 million Series A round—led by the $2 million contribution that S2G Ventures awarded to the startup during the AgSharks competition. Additionally, the funds from the competition have also played a significant role in enabling the startup to launch 100 pilots with fresh fruits and vegetables growers.
“The outcome of the AgSharks event was a major step forward for Hazel Tech,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and Co-Founder at Hazel Technologies. “S2G's investment has had great impact in accelerating our business growth and the opportunity to pitch in front of WGA members was invaluable. I think the event is only going to get bigger and better from here out.”
In addition to investment capital, successful entrants will also receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and WG, and potential access to farm acreage to pilot their technologies.
AgSharks is just the latest Western Growers effort to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry and support ag tech startups in bringing their technology to market. In 2015, the association noted, Western Growers opened an ag tech incubator—the WG Center for Innovation & Technology—in Salinas, California, to provide startups with the resources and mentoring needed to get their companies and technologies up and running. The Center now houses nearly 50 startups.
Applications must be submitted by September 30, 2018. Good luck ag tech entrepreneurs!