Tech Tuesday: The Future of Food & Sustainability
Meet Alex Borschow. Alex is co-founder and Managing Partner of Semillero Ventures, an early and growth stage venture capital fund focused on the food, beverage, and agtech industries.
As a proud Puerto Rican, Alex is looking to change the future of food by investing in the best companies shaping the landscape and bring that innovation back to his home country. The food industry is growing like crazy. We have seen the same growth in the last 9 months as we have over the last 10 years in terms of adoption for e-commerce for food. Consumers are demanding transparency, they want to know where their food comes from and they want it to be LOCAL. So much in fact that research shows consumers’ demand for local has outpaced the demand for organic food. In a country like Puerto Rico where 85-90% of food consumed is imported, the demand for local is high. In Puerto Rico and across the globe we are seeing a strong demand for authentic, cultural flavors and food. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, maybe it’s the fact that we are all stuck at home and want to be comforted, but regardless of the reason, it sounds like the demand is here to stay. Listen in below as Alex and I discuss what the future of food looks like in Puerto Rico and beyond.
#TechTuesday Highlight #77: Alex Borschow, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Semillero Ventures
How/why did you get into your space?
Environmental conservation and sustainability have always been something that drives me. After working on Wall Street for 6 years, I decided that investing in and partnering with focused, ambitious, and coachable entrepreneurs who are making the world a better place by changing the food system was the best way I could make an impact.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
Investing in food companies that are digitally native and focused on the direct-to-consumer channel and e-commerce channels is a big part of our investment model. The way consumers acquire and learn about their food is evolving rapidly with the exponential adoption of these digital sales channels for food that was traditionally only purchased in brick and mortar stores.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
The application data analytics, biofermentation, and cellular agriculture has been accelerated the development of viable plant-based alternatives to animal products. This has massive potential to reduce the carbon footprint and climate change impact caused by traditional industrial agriculture. Changing what we eat is the single biggest thing we can do to reduce our own carbon footprint.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
The widespread adoption of plant-based alternatives to animal products has been the most exciting trend of 2020. The technology employed to make products that look, taste, and feel just like their animal counterparts has enabled this trend to go mainstream. The success of companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods is inspiring the next generation of disruptive and technology-enabled food companies – from cellular meat to biofermented ingredients or algae-based protein alternative.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures is someone who inspires me. He is a tech focused investor with a long and successful track record. However, what most inspires me is his willingness and commitment to sharing and teaching from his experiences. I read his blog daily and often discuss the messages shared with my team and our portfolio company CEOs. Fred inspires me to constantly be learning, sharing, and growing with others. He also is not afraid to state his view and, more importantly, admit when he is wrong and learn from it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your space?
There are a lot of great and interesting ideas out there. Unless you personally plan to be the CEO of every company you invest in, the most important part is partnering with the right people who are going to execute. We like to break down our evaluation to the horse (company), the jockey (CEO), and the race (market). However, if we do not believe the jockey is coachable and capable, that is a dealbreaker.
Anything else we should know about you or you want to include?
I moved back to Puerto Rico in 2015 to co-found Semillero Ventures not just because of the unique opportunity to do what I loved, but also to create meaningful and sustainable impact in my home community. There are millions of people who have moved to major cities to pursue careers over the past decades. I believe now is an opportunity to look back to where you came from and ask how you can make an impact and make it a better place for future generations.
#businessunusual #sustainability #foodtech #agtech #ecommerce #plantbased #ImperfectFoods #SplendidSpoon #FarmersFridge #SealtheSeasons #PintaGelato
Have thoughts on this week’s trends or questions for me or Alex? Post your thoughts in the comment section or share them on Twitter. Please include the hashtag #techtuesday and mention me @ScarlettSieber! Until next week. 🙂
You can connect with Alex on LinkedIn.