Agtech is changing, so we are too.
When we first started working on the local agtech ecosystem, Australia had been investing hundreds of millions of dollars annually into agricultural research for decades. This research was core to helping Australia improve the productivity and sustainability of its world class ag sector.
But, we saw that climate pressures were mounting. The innovations we often saw were small changes to the existing system - they weren’t a bold enough reimagining of what agriculture could look like in a digitally native world. And the rate that the most promising technologies were advancing was not being matched with pathways to commercialization and scale.
That’s why, over the last 6 years, we built three separate organizations as interventions in the Australian ecosystem, that have each gone on to connect with the booming global agtech industry.
From advisors, to storytellers, to investors
First we created Agthentic, an insights machine that provided advice to clients along the agrifood value chain. We wanted the outcome of our work to grow the entire ecosystem - by providing new insights to agrifood clients about the technologies emerging today and the business models shaping the future, the entire agtech sector would grow.
We worked with corporates to scout for emerging technologies. We helped research organizations and industry bodies to unlock new models for commercialization. We led industry thinking by writing reports on growing the innovation ecosystem, accelerating adoption, and the future forces impacting the sector. And we supported entrepreneurs to raise money, scale operations, and ensure their technology was practical and valuable for their customers.
Through this work it became clear that the stories we heard from thinkers and doers at the forefront of adoption needed a consistent platform. In AgTech…So What?, our podcast, we created a way to share insights into the future of the agrifood system with thousands of listeners every week.
Our work with startups in particular was formative. Despite our previous concerns about the volume of high quality local deal flow, we found amazing companies like Goterra and Flurosat. These were startups with incredible teams, unique business model insights, and the potential to scale globally. But they were also complex and did not easily fit the common VC templates. We were proud to help them in an advisory capacity, but as their seed rounds closed without us, we knew there was more that we wanted to do.
Suddenly, being advisors alone was no longer enough. Australia needed a sector-specific, high conviction, high support investor. So, in 2019, we launched Tenacious Ventures, the country’s first dedicated agrifood tech venture firm. We’ve since made ten investments, and could not be more excited that our founding hypotheses are proving true.
Impact in agtech needs more than venture capital
For the last two and half years, we’ve been working out how Agthentic and Tenacious Ventures can unlock the most impact, together. We have been doing what we have wanted to see from the founders we invest in - testing, understanding, and iterating to find product-market fit.
Where we have conviction today is that agtech needs more than venture capital. To unlock world-changing impact at the intersection of digitally native agriculture and climate solutions, we need investment and insights. We need a venturing firm.
The boldest teams working in agtech today need a sector-specific, high conviction, and high support investor at the earliest possible stage. These startups need a partner that understands the complex realities of agrifood supply chains, and that is committed to the key role that hardware and deeptech will play in transforming the rules of these systems in a world responding to climate change. This is the investor we are attempting to be for the companies in our portfolio.
And as more attention and capital than ever flows into agtech and climate, insights are inevitably what enable us to be as much ag as we are tech. We know that an engaged community of agtech operators will help to generate a deeper understanding of the business models, incentives, and psychology of the humans at work in the agricultural system. Communicating our learning in this space widely and deeply will unlock the most impact.
Always Tenacious in nature, now Tenacious in name.
We’ve come to a point where we need to embrace some of our own tough-to-follow advice: to change the world, you need focus. And running multiple companies is the opposite of focus. So we are saying goodbye to the Agthentic name and the one-on-one advisory work. We’ll still be producing the insights that are valuable to the agtech ecosystem, but we will be experimenting with how to do this in a more community-based way.
We’ve always been tenacious in nature, now we are always Tenacious Ventures in name.
You can learn more about what we mean by digitally native agriculture and how we think about pathways to climate solutions on our new website or by subscribing to our insights here. And if you’re a startup or investor who believes what we believe and wants to partner, please get in touch.
Tenacious Ventures Management Pty Ltd (CAR 001275760), Tenacious Ventures Management Partnership, LP (CAR 001298484), Tenacious Ventures Fund II Management Partnership, LP (CAR 001298483), and Tenacious Ventures Fund II Staple Co Pty Ltd (CAR 001298487) are Corporate Authorised Representatives of Sandford Capital Pty Ltd (ABN 82 600 590 887), Australian Financial Services Licence No 461981, and are authorised to provide advisory and dealing in connection with investments to wholesale clients only.