Tenacious Ventures, a specialist agrifood tech venture capital firm, has build a $35 million fund to invest in early-stage startups with a focus on climate change resilience.
The Tenacious Ventures Fund I achieved its first close in March 2020 at just over $20 million, backed by $8 million from the Australian Government Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Grok Ventures, the personal investment fund of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes. It subsequently made six investments and raised another $15 million from tech and agribusiness executives, family offices, impact investors, and active primary producers.
The fund invests in early-stage startups (seed and series A) along the agrifood value chain. It’s registered fund under the federal government’s ESVCLP scheme and 80% of the capital will be deployed into Australian-based startups at the time the fund invests.
Tenacious co-invests with local VCs such as Square Peg, Blackbird, and Giant Leap, as well as The Nature Conservancy.
The portfolio so far includes waste management startup Goterra, SwarmFarm Robotic; an autonomous agricultural vehicle platform company; Nori, a US-based carbon marketplace; Vow, a Sydney startup producing meat from cells; RapidAIM, a CSIRO-spin out commercialising a digital crop protection platform; and Nowadays, a clean label sustainable protein company.
SwarmFarm Robotics co-founder Andrew Bate said Tenacious Ventures was instrumental in his company’s development and success.
“There’s an innate and deep understanding that’s required to guide thinking and strategy for agtech companies… and these guys have it in spades,” he said.
Matthew Pryor, and Sarah Nolet founded Tenacious after seeing Australian agtech startups struggle to attract funding because local investors didn’t understand the space and offshore investors were too far away.
“We are thrilled to have investors who not only believe in our high conviction approach, but also want to contribute their expertise and networks to help our portfolio achieve impact and returns as they transform agrifood supply chains,” Pryor said.
“We know that globally impactful solutions in agriculture will require more than just software, so we’ve built a team at Tenacious with expertise in hardware, supply chains, manufacturing, and more. We’re excited about non-traditional innovators and unique, transformational business models- in fact, we believe these are critical to achieve real impact across the food system.”