Creating Fertile Ground in the Agtech Industry
An In-depth Look at the Midwest and its Role in Driving Innovation in Agriculture
We at M25 are very proud of our Midwest roots. It is core to our investment thesis, as well as who we are individually.
In the same way that the Midwest is core to us, agriculture is core to the Midwest. Ever drive from Chicago to St. Louis? How about Kansas City to Lincoln, or Columbus to Indianapolis? If you’ve ever driven anywhere across the region, odds are you’ve passed fields on fields on fields filled with anything from corn, to soybeans, to cows. It is hard to miss, and forms a regional historical economic core going back into history.
With the rise of Agtech, agriculture has become an industry that is undergoing technological evolution. And it is this that piqued our interest. We found ourselves asking a whole series of questions: What are these innovations? Who needs them and who is creating them? What resources are available to make all this happen successfully? How do we know which innovations are the right ones? To answer these and more, we undertook a three month deep dive into the industry, interviewing experts up and down the value chain, crunching numbers, and generally reading every report we could get our hands on. What did we learn? In short: how the Midwest is poised to drive true innovation in agriculture. And we are excited to share with you our analysis and conclusions.
What can you expect?
Initially when we undertook this project, we hoped to shed light on what makes the Midwest operate differently than California when it comes to agriculture and Agtech, and what the advantages and disadvantages were to the region. What we discovered instead, was that all the elements of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem are lining up to make the Midwest uniquely positioned to be the leader in Agtech.
To illustrate this, the resulting report starts by laying out the building blocks of the industry: who, what, where, and why. Once those have been clearly established, we break down the challenges the players are facing, the types of resources needed to address these challenges as well as how these resources are available in the Midwest, and lastly and perhaps most relevant, what trends are emerging and the ground breaking companies that are leading these trends.
We hope this report is as revealing for you as putting it together has been for us. If nothing else, we hope that it sheds light on the exciting developments in this space, as well as the areas where the Midwest still has room to grow on its path to being the industry leader and producing the next billion dollar Agtech company.
Katherine grew up in Chicago before moving to New York City to study comparative politics at Barnard College. From there, she went on to join the fundraising team at The Earth Institute at Columbia University where she worked with individuals as well as institutional donors to fund scientific research in the clean energy space. She is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she concentrated in entrepreneurship and finance. While at Booth, she spent time working with a diverse array of food startups through The Hatchery, as well as in venture capital with the Clean Energy Trust. In her free time, Katherine enjoys running and baking all sorts of cookies and cakes.
M25 Group is one of the most active venture capital firms focused solely on early-stage investments in the Midwest. Their objective, analytical approach has helped support their thesis and craft what is known as an ‘index fund of Midwest startups.’ M25 has already invested in over fifty companies since their inception in 2015, and continues to invest in over twenty companies each year. Their collaborative, forward-thinking style and diverse array of investments across industries and business models throughout the region has quickly established them as a key node in the Midwest startup ecosystem.
Originally published at blog.midweststartups.com on November 21, 2017.