Venture Capital

Agtech VC Tenacious Ventures plants $18 million in first close for Fund II

- June 24, 2024 2 MIN READ
Vela Georgiev, Matthew Pryor and Sarah Nolet
Tenacious Ventures partners Vela Georgiev, Matthew Pryor and Sarah Nolet

Specialist agtech venture capital firm Tenacious Ventures has attracted support from investors such as Tesla chair Robyn Denholm and RBA board member Carol Schwartz, securing $18 million in commitments for the first close of its second fund. 

Tenacious Ventures Fund II has a $50 million target and will maintain the existing focus on early stage Australian startups in agri-food with a positive climate impact.

Sarah Nolet, a Silicon Valley native and MIT-trained engineer, and Matthew Pryor, an Australian tech-turned-agtech entrepreneur launched Tenacious in 2019 having worked overseas and experienced the global potential for Australian agtech.

They planted $35 million in commitments for their first fund in 2021. Its backers included $8 million from the Australian Government Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Grok Ventures, the personal investment fund of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes.

Tenacious subsequently invested more than $23 million in agtech startups that have attracted more than $240m in additional follow-on capital.

They include the food waste recycling startup Goterra, which last week announced a partnership with the City of Sydney to process residential food waste. Goterra was the 2023 Best Sustainability Startup in the Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards.

Tenacious also backed Jupiter Ionics in a $9 million raise to develop carbon-neutral “green” ammonia for agriculture; and US carbon marketplace Nori in a $5.6 m raise.

Sarah Nolet said the investors in Fund II came from the US and Australia, including Schwartz’s Trawalla Group, Denholm’s Wollemi Capital Group, Macdoch Ventures, and Hutcheon and Pearce, one of Australia’s largest John Deere dealers; as well as exited founders, technology executives, impact investors, and Australian primary producers across horticulture, grains, and livestock.

“To hit first close for our second fund, especially in this economic climate, is a positive signal not only for Tenacious’ investment strategy, but also for Australian ag-ech innovators,” she said.

“The feedback we receive from investors, especially US investors, is that Australia has an unrealised competitive advantage in agtech, and Tenacious Ventures is attractive because of our differentiated portfolio, depth of experience in agtech, global presence, and track record for outstanding post-investment support.”

Her cofounder, Matthew Pryor, cited their investment in SwarmFarm Robotics in 2020 as an example. Last year the Queensland robotics management platform raised $12 million in a Series A led by Canadian agtech investor, Emmertech, with follow-on backing from Tenacious

“Australia has long been a global leader in agtech, and yet this is often more widely recognised by overseas investors than it is by Australian investors. This continues to be the case with this raise,” he said.

Wollemi CEO Victoria Denholm praised their approach, saying: “By harnessing the power of technology with best-practice, innovative sustainable practices and their commitment to supporting future leaders in agrifood business, Tenacious Ventures is set to generate positive changes that will benefit communities and ecosystems for generations to come.”

Macdoch Ventures cofounder Michael Robinson, said the duo’s highly differentiated portfolio and depth of experience make them a global leader in the field.

“Our continued partnership with Tenacious Ventures reflects our belief in their vision and capability to find and support climate smart innovators in Australian agtech,” he said.

Nolet said there’s enormous potential in agri-food, but it takes deep sector expertise to unlock it.

“This is exactly why we started Tenacious Ventures – we leverage our specialised knowledge to be a lead investor, attracting additional investment and providing founders with the critical headstart needed to drive climate-smart innovation,” she said.

“Australian agri-food tech innovators are some of the best equipped in the world to speed our transition to a carbon-neutral and climate change-resilient future – it is a real honor to work with them.”



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