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Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, is excited to announce the launch of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator. It’s our first program focused on the tech/digital side of food and agriculture and I’m thrilled to be on board as the managing director. As the name implies, we’re looking for the best entrepreneurs across the entire food value chain, from AgTech, manufacturing and supply chains, to food safety, waste reduction and traceability.
Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator will be based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Cargill and Ecolab will be partners for this program.
Ecolab is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. With 2016 sales of $13 billion and 48,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world.
Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Together with farmers, customers, governments and communities, we help people thrive by applying our insights and 150 years of experience. We have 155,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work.
Personally, I have been an entrepreneur and investor for most of my career. I’ve bootstrapped, raised venture capital, taken three companies to exit and have had at least one fail along the way. Entrepreneurship is my passion. I can’t think of a better platform to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed than this new program combining the Techstars worldwide network with these two powerhouse organizations in food and agriculture.
Our new mentorship-driven accelerator program will be located in the center of the food and ag tech world, The Twin Cities, where there are more than 25 billion dollar plus food and ag tech companies employing nearly 100,000 people focused on food and ag space. The program will run in Q3 2018; applications will be open on January 8, 2018.
Opportunity for Disruption
The food value chain continues to grow as an area of focus for entrepreneurs and tech investors. Why? Because the time is right for disruption! Globally, food spoilage is rampant; food safety is a growing concern, yet we don’t have the solutions to create more land or enough fresh water needed to feed the growing population. Now is the time to change the way things get done. Great entrepreneurs tackle big problems and the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator is thinking huge.
The Perfect Vertical for the Techstars Process
While there is growing interest in using technology to disrupt the space, food and ag entrepreneurs lack the attention and resources that benefit other verticals. But big players are now ready to move. Cargill and Ecolab are working with Techstars to see the global challenges and possible solutions through the eyes of entrepreneurs. They want to work closely with these innovators and help develop technologies that take advantage of opportunities and solve big problems.
Entrepreneurs shouldn’t go it alone! Both Cargill and Ecolab have broad knowledge and deep industry expertise — we leverage their resources to help entrepreneurs navigate a path from idea to impact? The Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator is the perfect platform to connect these global giants in food processing, food safety and agriculture with innovators who have ideas and technical knowledge.
Everyone wins. Because at Techstars and with our partners, we share a give-first mentality, we’re going to help entrepreneurs do more faster.
A Food and Ag Hub That’s Ready for Innovation
Choosing the Twin Cities location was strategic. Minnesota was built by food and agriculture innovators over 150 years ago along the banks of the Mississippi and it continues to be a thriving, supportive place to build a company. Today we house many of the largest food and ag companies in the world, a renowned land grant university and an ecosystem full of top talent that specializes in this vertical. Our history is food and agriculture and with programs like this food and ag tech will play a big part in the region’s future.
As the managing director of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator program, I’m excited to work with Cargill, Ecolab, Techstars and the best entrepreneurs in the world to disrupt food and agriculture.