Seedstock is bringing agricultural entrepreneurs and investors together

While the tech world has received the majority of
investor attention over the last few years, Seedstock is out to make a case for
entrepreneurs focused on sustainable agriculture as a viable investment choice.
By David Kuack
Seedstock in Los Angeles, Calif., is a young company,
less than two years old. But it is a company that cofounder and managing partner
Robert Puro said has a lot of potential.
“Seedstock was started because we saw that there was a
growing opportunity with respect to sustainable agriculture as a viable
economic opportunity,” Puro said.
The product that Seedstock offers is being a facilitator
between entrepreneurs and investors.
“We looked at the major challenges facing the
agricultural system and the amount of food that will need to be produced in
order to supply a growing population. We looked at the world demand. We looked
at that against the amount of land and water that are available. There are a
lot of challenges, but there are also a lot of opportunities. We have become an
aggregator of all of the startups and farms that are using sustainable
practices to show that there is a groundswell of activity in this country.”
Puro said Seedstock is looking at companies that are
trying to use sustainable practices that are helping those companies make
“We look at it from the perspective that sustainability
is not going to exist unless it can make you money,” he said. “The other
component is we want local economies to improve and we want to see the
environment improve, but unfortunately those things can’t happen if the
solutions that are used aren’t economically viable.”
Seedstock – Bringing Investors to Ag Entrepenuers.
Starting with a website
Seedstock began with a website to provide information for
investors and entrepreneurs.
“A lot of what we have been doing with our website is
building our brand and building trust among our reader base and our audience,”
Puro said.”
He said the Seedstock website is a resource of
information that people can’t find anywhere else.
“We track down the information and put it together and
try to get investors interested in it,” he said. “We provide investors with
information to make them more knowledgeable. Then we try to get the investors
together with entrepreneurs, at an event for example. Our goal is to facilitate
dialog between investors and entrepreneurs.”
Puro said that companies written about on the Seedstock
website can be either large or small.
“We really try to look at a company objectively, not
making any judgments,” he said. “In most cases we are writing business
profiles, including start-ups.
“We might write about the challenges a company is facing
with the LED lights it is using? How have its energy costs been impacted? What
are the company’s profits? How much funding has it received? What
considerations does sustainable agriculture play in the creation of the
company’s product? What are its objectives?
“We try to stay away from the advocacy stuff. If company
officials say that their company is trying to save the world, that’s them
saying it, not us.”
Other information posted on the website includes research
from relevant universities and product-related articles.
“It might be a 3-acre farm that is using an innovative
business application that could be potentially implemented in a bigger
operation,” Puro said.
The educational events sponsored by Seedstock are an
integral part of achieving its goal of bringing entrepreneurs and investors
together. Seedstock’s initial event was held on Nov. 27, 2011 at the University
of California-San Diego Business School. It was a panel discussion on the state
of agricultural entrepreneurship.
The company held its first conference on Sustainable
Agriculture Innovation at the UCLA Anderson School of Management this past
“The goal of the conference was to really focus on the
economic opportunities as well as the environmental and societal benefits of
developing and investing in sustainable agricultural solutions, technology and
practices,” Puro said.
The company is planning to increase the number of
educational events that it sponsors.
Seedstock conference in September featured big to small businesses,
including greenhouse tomato grower Casey Houweling.
Gaining momentum
While starting a new company during a down economy may
not have been the best timing, Puro is very excited about the opportunities for
“We want to facilitate more interest and get more
investors who may be thinking about high tech and the Internet to think about
the opportunities in farming and agriculture,” he said. “There are so many
challenges that could be addressed. As sustainability continues to play a
bigger role in agriculture there are more companies popping up. We are also
seeing more business school students looking at ag ventures. There is
definitely a feeling of momentum.”
For more:
Seedstock, (424) 229-1460;
David Kuack is a freelance technical writer in Fort
Worth, Texas;

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