Tag: agtech

Alumni in the news

Ryan Rakestraw, MBA’13, Venture Principal at Monsanto Growth Ventures, is featured in a Forbes column discussing his AgTech Hype Curve that puts new technologies used in farming in perspective for investors. It’s a work in progress, but clearly caught the attention of the “The Mixing Bowl” a group that connects the food and agriculture industries with IT innovation.

The Mixing Bowl: So, what compelled you to put this curve together? What’s the background on this document?

ryan-rakestrawRyan Rakestraw: It was mostly for the team at Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV) to think about the investment landscape, think about where technologies are in terms of their maturity levels, and think about some new technologies that are just emerging. We wanted to capture some of the more mature technology that is seeing farmer adoption, and some of the less mature technology that has yet to experience any significant adoption. This is a useful representation to remind us that some of these technologies have a little bit further to go before they get to a level where they see wider adoption.

Link to the complete Q&A with Ryan Rakestraw on Forbes.com

How will we feed the world’s rapidly growing population? By 2050 the world population is projected to reach more than 9.6 billion, according to a UN report.  The Yield Lab, the first and leading agricultural technology (AgTech) business accelerator, has begun to answer this fundamental question.

Formed in 2014 by Thad Simons, former CEO of Novus International, and Cultivation Capital, the top St. Louis Venture Capital firm, The Yield Lab seeks to address the global food crisis by investing in AgTech start-up companies that have creative ideas and innovative solutions for increasing agricultural productivity. The start-up companies selected for the 9-month program receive $100,000 in funding as well as mentoring and networking opportunities.

Our group is excited to be consulting for The Yield Lab this semester and thankful that Washington University is giving us the opportunity to do so. Composed of one MBA student (Jonah Hanowitz), one PMBA student (Paul Dinkins), and two law students (Julia von Türk and Edward Brennan), we will be producing a marketing plan that builds The Yield Lab’s brand awareness as the first and leading AgTech business accelerator across the agricultural industry and among venture capital firms.

The entrepreneurial sector for AgTech is rapidly developing, and The Yield Lab is uniquely situated in the Midwest, which has some of the world’s best growing conditions and natural resources. In addition, St. Louis has some of the largest agricultural companies in the world, which are looked upon as the leaders in their field. One of the biggest differentiators over a typical business accelerator is that the companies chosen for the program benefit from The Yield Lab’s Managing Directors’ and Advisors’ expertise and long-term success in the agricultural industry. The Yield Lab’s portfolio companies are able to take advantage of the burgeoning St. Louis start-up scene by using the work spaces at the T-REx incubator and coworking space downtown. We were able to spend a day there and were impressed with the energy and opportunities available there.

We will be putting together a marketing plan that increases brand awareness and reputation among talent pools which we believe will have multiple benefits: First, it will lead to more–and more qualified–Yield Lab applicants, which in turn will lead to more successful Yield Lab companies, which will ultimately lead to more profitability, visibility, and investor interest.  Furthermore, increased brand awareness among talent will hopefully lead to applicants coming to The Yield Lab, as opposed to The Yield Lab having to seek out potential portfolio companies.  This will free up considerable time and energy to devote to other, more productive tasks—such as seeking out investors for the Growth Fund (who will, hopefully, be attracted by the level of talent that The Yield Lab attracts). Lastly, a talented, successful portfolio of companies will lead to a talented, successful network of alumni, which will only serve to attract more talented portfolio companies in the future.