Fund fact sheet:
Size and horizon: Target size $50M, 10 year fund
Maturity/stage: Pre-seed to Series A
Ticket size: $250K – $1M
Potential lead: Yes, lead, co-lead, or participate
Follow on: Yes
Previous Investments: Perfeggt (Alternative Egg), Aigen (Weeding Robot), Plantish (Alternative Fish)
How would you describe your VC and your investment thesis/guiding principles in one sentence?
E2JDJ invests globally in AgriFood technologies, from production to consumption in innovations across the food supply chain that improve the quality, resilience and sustainability of the food system, and ultimately human and planetary health.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the main partners in the team?
Stephanie Dorsey: Corey and I both come from families of entrepreneurs and met at Harvard Law School. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I’ve had a passion for food my entire life. Nevertheless, I became increasingly and painfully aware that our food system is failing, enabling chronically unhealthy diets while leaving many people around the world undernourished and simultaneously killing the planet. Through my exposure to the food industry, I developed a passion for the role of innovation, markets and system investing as a theory of change particularly in promoting change towards a healthier and sustainable food system. I saw first hand that there was tremendous white space around investing in and supporting early stage food and agriculture companies and yet so much innovation in the space, and felt compelled to find a role in the ecosystem that would create value.
Corey Jones: The common thread in my career has been pursuing work that energizes me. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I saw how meaningful it was to have a strongly identified purpose, to build something that’s everlasting, and to intentionally integrate one’s passions into everyday life. As a college student, I was passionate about a plethora of problems people faced in the world, and as a result became interested in politics. I created a few organizations around the issues I cared most deeply about, and ultimately worked in The White House supporting President Obama’s agenda for solving those problems. While at Harvard Law School, I became passionate about the power of the financial markets and the change it could bring on a larger scale. As a result, I joined Morgan Stanley’s investment banking team where I discovered I really enjoyed finance, but wanted to interact more with visionary founders building transformational companies. That discovery led me to Providence Equity, where I invested in and worked with passionate founders creating game-changing tech companies. Now with E2JDJ, I have combined my interest in food and agriculture with my long-time passion of working with visionary entrepreneurs solving pressing problems that no one else has ever been able to solve and challenges that will have cataclysmic consequences if they are not addressed.
Why do you think now is the right moment to launch this fund?
There is a powerful convergence of macro megatrends, technological advances, consumer preferences, and sustainability demands, which are driving an incredible amount of innovation in the food and agriculture industry and massive opportunities to solve pressing global challenges.
What is your unfair advantage? What do you bring besides money?
When we invest in companies, we are holistic collaborative partners. We help founders connect the dots within the broader food and agricultural ecosystem for contacts, resources and potential customers. We help these companies get the resources that they need so they can quickly and strategically scale and accelerate commercialization. This primarily includes making introductions to retailers and distributors and to other large corporations in the food space and connections to growers in the agricultural space for commercial and in-field pilots. On both the food and agriculture front, we aim to create prospective revenue relationships. We surround founders with the ecosystem that they need to move more quicker than they could do on their own.
What do you look for in entrepreneurs? / What will convince you to invest in a startup?
We back forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are adaptable, relentless, resourceful and positive. We look for founders who can execute with velocity and have the capabilities to drive the company to success. We want to see that founders are thoughtfully examining critical questions like: (i) who is my consumer, (ii) do I understand them well enough, (iii) how can I win with them more efficiently at scale, and (iv) where does the company need to improve its capabilities. We are looking for unique things that the founder has figured out that no one else has figured out. We want to get a sense of the viability of the solution, the order of magnitude of the opportunity, what drives the growth, if the path to the opportunity is plausible and what it takes to get there. Most importantly, we want to be mission-aligned with the founders.
Can you give a few examples of startups you previously invested in and why?
Perfeggt is a Berlin-based food-tech company leveraging a data-driven approach to identify and combine compounds which replicate animal-based product benchmarks at the molecular level. The company recently launched out of stealth mode and is attacking the alternative egg market in Europe. Perfeggt has been able to innovate quickly and discover unique combinations of molecular compounds that replicate the taste, look and functionalities of eggs. The founding team is the best we have seen in the space, incredibly pragmatic, and one that relentlessly and thoughtfully executes.
Aigen is leveraging best-in-class AI and robotics, with solar-powered robots that empower farmers to weed their crops autonomously. The units are designed for high volume manufacturing, and are low cost, portable small robots that are easily assembled on the farm and operate in fleets – truly first of its kind. The founders are truly exceptional and have the passion, expertise, and execution ability required to drive the company to success.
What is the best way for founders to approach you and what will convince you to have a first meeting?
We can be reached by email, LinkedIn, Twitter or directly through our website.
What is one advice you would give deep tech entrepreneurs?
Don’t get distracted by vanity metrics. It is the companies that are aligned with the realities of the industry, and who are focused on substance and sound unit economics that will prevail.
Who are your LPs and how did you convince them to invest their money in deep tech?
Our LPs are a mix of high net worth individuals, family offices and institutional investors. Specializing in AgriFood deeptech, we are uniquely positioned to identify attractive opportunities and weed out all but the best prospects. Based on our market mapping and the results from our in-depth research and analysis of the space, we conveyed to our LPs that we are in a once in a generation shift in the industry. Food is the least digitized industry and emerging technologies are set to reshape the industry and could be revolutionary. If history is any indication, time and time again, markets reward early-stage investors who invest before a market trend becomes clear, and we believe we’re at the front end of a new cycle that will not only have a positive environmental impact, but will also produce venture-grade returns.
What do you think will be the next big thing in deep tech?
While synthetic biology (“synbio”) is just a little over two decades old, it is moving rapidly from being an emerging field to being a maturing field. From our perspective, synbio is the new internet. We think about it as an enabling technology that drives radical change in diverse industries. In the same way that the internet drives commerce and communications, we see that synthetic biology is really going to drive the physical world. It’s also the driving force behind the $4 trillion bioeconomy.
What trends are you seeing in the deep tech investment landscape?
From what we’ve seen, technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing, and genetic sequencing are making it cheaper and faster for deep tech companies to innovate and bring disruptive new technologies to market. This dynamic will drive significant growth in the space.
Head to E2JDJ website for more info.