An interview with Kirk Haney, CEO of San Diego-based acceleration fund Radicle Growth

Ahead of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, we spoke with Kirk Haney, CEO of Radicle Growth, to hear his take on the best model for start-ups working with investors.

Tell us a bit about Radicle Growth, and the network you work with.
Radicle Growth is an acceleration fund that leverages a dedicated pool of capital with a global Ag ecosystem and operations platform to help bring new Ag technologies to market more quickly. Our vision is to “transform the speed of innovation” in AgTech and we do this by helping companies develop the right business plan with the right capital structure, so they can focus on execution and not on raising capital or trying to track down the right partners.  We have been very fortunate to surround ourselves with great partners, such as Finistere Ventures, Bayer, OurCrowd and DuPont Pioneer.
These partners have been instrumental in driving deal flow and helping to vet early stage opportunities for our platform. We also have a great network of venture partners from a variety of disciplines such as digital, biologicals, genomics, indoor Ag and other industries, and they love to work with entrepreneurs at an early stage. They have been instrumental in helping our companies execute their strategies, while still digging into the technologies.

How is Radicle Growth different to other accelerators?
First, we are not an accelerator. We do not have a mandatory class schedule or relocation requirement. This is important as we don’t feel this is where the market needs support. Radicle Growth is filling a need between an accelerator and Series A. We believe accelerators are doing a great job getting companies the initial support they need. However, rarely do these initiatives capitalize an early stage company to a point where they can secure a Series A. In fact, we know that real, on-farm data is critical in Ag, so if you don’t have the data, it will be very challenging to secure a Series A. However, leveraging the Radicle platform, we will make sure the company has at least 18 months of runway and access to the right partners to help get the entrepreneurs technology on-farm and demonstrating that it is working.

What’s your view of how start-ups and acceleration funds/VCs can best work together?Radicle Growth
Since AgTech is a relatively new asset class, it is critical that the entire industry works together to support start-ups. Not only for the long-term capitalization of the company, but also to ensure that the entrepreneurs have access to the key partners who will help execute the strategy. Agriculture is 10,000 years old and is a global market. There will always be relationships and insights that other investors and partners can contribute to every syndicate.
Full Harvest is a great example of how backing great entrepreneurs’ results in great investment returns. Full Harvest created a B2B platform which monetizes food waste by connecting growers with businesses who need great produce, fruits and vegetables, but don’t need it to look great. Full Harvest assembled a solid group of investors, but needed an Ag player for the grower domain expertise. This is where Radicle and our platform came in. We have helped the company get connected to the right players in growing and processing and also for follow-on financings.  One year later, Full Harvest is now the leader in the B2B food waste space and is exceeding all our financial expectations.

You’re always on the lookout for entrepreneurial start-ups to join your portfolio. What’s next on the horizon in AgTech?
We had some great entrepreneurs and great ideas come into AgTech over the last three years and some BIG capital raises in 2017. These financings are driving large market opportunities and therefore creating new technology opportunities to support them. Most notably are Plenty and AeroFarms Series B rounds and how this is pulling more innovation in the indoor Ag sector. In addition, the need for robotics and camera vision are uniquely applicable in Ag. Taranis is a great example of how camera vision is changing the way people farm.
Through bold initiatives like the Radicle Challenge $250,000 investment available at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Pitch Day, we want to encourage AgTech entrepreneurs to approach us, if they’re looking for capital to get to the next level. If we believe in them, we move fast. We’re really excited to connect with those start-ups who could be the future of the industry, and to meet them at World Agri-Tech in San Francisco!

Radicle Growth is the San-Diego based investment fund behind the Radicle Challenge, offering $250,000 investment to the winner of the World Agri-Tech Innovation Pitch Day in San Francisco on March 19. Entry is open to all early/seed-stage start-ups anywhere in the world – ENTRY DEADLINE JANUARY 19 >> SEE DETAILS >>
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