VANTEC’s mission is to grow the Angel investor community in BC and to help investors find more investment opportunities they want to invest in. Entrepreneurial programs, incubators and accelerators provide valuable support to budding entrepreneurs and their companies and help them on their journey to become a thriving business.
The February 7th VANTEC meeting focused on Investing in Food & Ag Tech has brought 4 great organizations together that each provide unique and valuable services to entrepreneurs by supporting them in the journey to become investment ready.
Following the event, VANTEC sat down with Jessica Taylor, A/Regional Manager from Bioenterprise's BC office.
What is your organizations’s mission?
Bioenterprise’s official mission statement is to become the leading commercialization organization in Canada for companies engaged in agri-technology, but there’s more to it than that. We want to see the agri-technology and food sectors grow and increase in both level of innovation and competitiveness on a global scale. Bioenterprise aims to empower entrepreneurs and provide the resources to create sustainable, profitable businesses.
What excites you about the investment opportunities in Food and Ag Tech today and looking ahead?
There is a global push towards innovation and adaptations in the Food and Ag Tech industries. The global population is growing, our arable land is decreasing, fresh water is becoming scarcer, climate change is impacting crop yields, and the population is becoming more educated about their food sources and looking for sustainable, nutritious options. All of these factors are contributing to a growing food and agri tech sector and causing larger organizations, not traditionally focused on agriculture, to look for sustainable alternatives to traditional materials, such as plastics.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges that new entrepreneurs have to overcome on their journey to become investment ready? How does your organization help them with that?
Many of the entrepreneurs that we see entering the market understand their niche and technology, but often haven’t spent enough time analyzing their market and understanding their customer and that customer’s needs. These entrepreneurs need to learn how to identify their target market and how to ask the questions required to refine their product for commercial success. Another big challenge for the entrepreneurs we meet is understanding how to grow their business strategically. Bioenterprise can help companies identify their target market, facilitate strategic connections/partnerships, and coach entrepreneurs through customer discovery. We also work with the entrepreneurs to develop and implement a strategic growth plan including a review of their investment materials, creation of an appropriate strategy and introductions to investors when the time is right.
What proof are you seeing that entrepreneurs benefit from working with you and from being part of your community?
Over the last 10 years, the companies we have worked with have successfully launched more than 1,000 new products, services and technologies; created thousands of new jobs; and generated over $268 million in revenues. Bioenterprise has also worked closely with 30 companies in helping them secure more than $120 million in investment.
What is the best way for an entrepreneur to learn more about what you can do for them?
Talk to us! (And check out our website: www.bioenterprise.ca) Fill out our short online application or drop us a line and we’d be happy to walk you through our process. The more background information you can provide the better. This allows us to make sure we have the right experts at the table during our conversation and can customize a project for your unique needs.
We are seeing rapid changes in how people can invest in Food and Ag. What opportunities do you see for seed stage investors to benefit from these opportunities? How can they add value to the local eco-system?
British Columbia has no shortage of promising agri-tech ideas, technologies and products. Seed stage investors play a critical role in a growing venture, helping them grow their market, competitive advantage or scale operations. This growth helps position ventures for follow-on investment and successful exits for the seed investors.
A great example of this is from DeeBee’s Organics, with certified organic TeaPops, which are free of chemicals, refined sugar and artificial flavours and are made from all-natural fruit purées and juices. DeeBee’s secured a $1.5 million investment round and their products can be found in more than 2,000 stores across North America, including heavyweights like Loblaw’s, Sobeys, Whole Foods, Safeway and Costco. DeeBee’s also recently landed an agreement with Walmart USA, and sales are expected to at least double in 2018 to more than $4 million.