Western Growers’ AgSharks™ is the first agricultural technology competition to offer real-time investment opportunities and decision-making in front of a live audience
IRVINE, Calif. (November 3, 2017) – Hazel Technologies, a start-up company that develops products that extend the shelf life of fresh produce, and AgVoice, the world's first voice and data management startup that allows ag professionals the freedom to work hands-free while on-the-go, received a $2.25 million total investment offer from S2G Ventures (Seed 2 Growth) during Western Growers’ AgSharks™ competition on October 31, 2017. S2G Ventures, a multi-stage food and agriculture venture fund, offered Hazel Technologies $2 million in equity investment, while offering AgVoice $250,000 in seed funding.
The two agricultural technology (agtech) startups faced off against four other companies in a fierce AgSharks pitching event. AgSharks is the first competition in the nation to provide agtech startups the opportunity to pitch their technologies in front of a live grower audience to a panel of investors and industry-leading farmers for substantial on-the-spot capital funding.
“Western Growers continually strives to provide innovative opportunities that allow start-up companies that are developing cutting-edge technologies the ability to scale,” said Tom Nassif, president & CEO at Western Growers. “AgSharks is an unprecedented event demonstrating the full potential of Western Growers’ innovation efforts. AgSharks brought together growers, investors and agtech startups in a single forum to prioritize and fund technology that will help solve agriculture’s most pressing issues and move the industry forward.”
“We are thrilled to have partnered with Western Growers which brings trust and access to local and regional farmers providing over half the nation’s fresh produce,” said Sanjeev Krishnan, managing director of S2G Ventures. “By providing capital to the entrepreneurs at Hazel Technologies and AgVoice, S2G and Western Growers support innovation on the farm and in the supply chain to improve farmer productivity and profitability.”
"Our success at the AgSharks event is the latest market validation point for Hazel Technologies,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and Co-Founder at Hazel Technologies, Inc. “We are grateful that Western Growers and S2G gave us this platform to show how Hazel Tech increases returns, reduces labor cost, and opens new markets for grower-shippers."
“We entered the competition because we wanted the opportunity to come on stage and earn the funding needed to build services that will be beneficial to agri-food professionals. These are specialists like agronomists, plant breeders and crop inspectors who provide support to the farmers, ranchers and growers who feed our nation and world,” said Bruce Rasa, CEO of AgVoice. “Prior to AgSharks, our team had never seen this type of live negotiation event take place in the agtech community, and we are so thankful that Western Growers and S2G had the bold vision to bring it to fruition.”
AgSharks, an initiative sponsored by S2G to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry, is the latest Western Growers’ (WG) effort to support agtech startups in accelerating the introduction of unique products and services to the market. In December 2015, WG opened an agtech incubator—the WG Center for Innovation & Technology—in Salinas, California to provide startups with the resources and mentoring needed to get their companies and technologies up and running. The Center now houses 52 startups, including both Hazel Technologies and AgVoice. Startups involved with WG and the WG Center for Innovation & Technology are afforded the opportunity to participate in groundbreaking events, such as AgSharks.
About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation's fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America's fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.
About S2G Ventures:
S2G Ventures (Seed to Growth) is a multi-stage venture fund investing in food and agriculture in the U.S. The fund’s mission is to catalyze innovation to meet consumer demands for healthy and sustainable food. S2G has identified sectors across the food system that are ripe for change, and is building a multi-stage portfolio including seed, venture and growth stage investments. Core areas of interest for S2G are agriculture, ingredients, infrastructure and logistics, IT and hardware, food safety and technology, retail and restaurants, and consumer brands. For more information about S2G, visit www.s2gventures.com.