Comment on page
Here are some updates on what happened last week!
Week 8 at Entrepreneur First
Last week, the programme ended for solo founders. Only teams are now rushing to build a business before the investment committee in early January. Luckily, I got support from the EF team to continue my journey in the programme as I have shown traction for the wheat project. I had an excellent meeting with a business advisor who challenged my understanding of the problem I’m trying to solve. It was a great exercise to articulate my priorities to build a successful business.
Incorporation of ABERLAND in the UK
The wheat project has reached a significant milestone: ABERLAND Food Systems was incorporated in the UK to empower the next generation of food producers. The name derives from Gottlieb Haberlandt, who is considered the father of plant tissue culture. You can also visit our new webpage (under development).
Addressing investor’s concerns about the wheat project
After talking to many investors in the past few weeks, I have summarised their concerns about the wheat project. I will spend the next weeks before Christmas to ‘de-risk’ the points they have raised. Stay tuned, as I will shortly publish a blog on this topic!
Here are some updates on what happened last week!
Week 7 at Entrepreneur First
This week I'm back as a solo founder. My third co-founder and I decided to break up. The past week working with Dom Watson was just fantastic! He picked up the ball of the wheat project so easily, almost too naturally. He has this magic twist to connect with people and engage in conversation. He presented the project with passion and conviction. However, we agreed that the first year of the business would be mainly scientific research and the project's horizon was too far. I'm sad to lose an excellent mate, but I have no doubts Dom will accomplish great things in his life!
Working on the economics of producing cell-based wheat flour
One of the major concerns of investors is the economic viability of producing cell-based wheat flour. We have been working hard on establishing the costs compared to traditional farming. It is a hugely complex problem as it depends on new technologies and the estimated yields of wheat cell lines. We also determined the budget needed to deliver the first milestone (10g of cell-based wheat flour).
- 1.We had great conversations with companies that use plant cell culture technologies to produce cacao, coffee and cotton. It is exciting to learn what the community is building!
- 1.We are working on a new pitch deck for VCs. The deck will reflect the business model for the wheat project.
- 2.We are also exploring avenues to secure funding from governments in the UK and Canada. Grants would be used to support the PCI.
- 1.We explored new business projects that would reflect the values of the PCI, including glasshouse energy efficiency improvements. These projects were discussed as part of the startup accelerator programme.
- 1.Don't be afraid to take hard decisions.
- 2.Follow your passion: That's the only way a business can succeed.
ISPMF 2022 - Rome
- 1.We attended the ISPMF conference on molecular farming. The conference was an excellent opportunity to connect with plant scientists.
- 1.Not much in the fundraising world this week...
- 1.We keep the conversation ongoing with VCs!
- 1.Act quick! To waste time dealing with unwanted situations
- 2.Keep the momentum
- 1.Not much happened this week. We are still working on the first draft of the protocol.
- 1.We met more than 100 entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas around the next agricultural revolution.
- 1.It is essential to know and understand your beliefs when looking for a co-founder
- 2.To be shy to address the disagreements
- 1.This week was about connecting with people and discussing cellular crop agriculture possibilities. Overall, the project gets traction from food security groups and organisations. We also had great conversations on the future of food systems.
- 1.We are getting ready to join the Entrepreneur First accelerator programme! It officially starts on October third, but we have met many candidates already. This programme will help us rethink the business model to translate research into real-world impact.
- 1.Relationships are crucial. Always allow enough time to follow up with your new connections.
- 2.Build a network of people that share the same values and goals.
- 1.We connected with private foundations and investors to discuss the possibility of creating a new fund to support long-term research on food innovation. More to come regarding this initiative!
- 1.We applied to the Y Combinator startup programme as a non-profit organisation. We will know by the end of November if we are invited for an interview.
- 2.After discussions with investors and MBAs, we agreed that building a business around wheat grain production is unlikely to be funded because of its low economic viability. We are therefore brainstorming a new pitch deck that will be presented in the following months.
- 1.Always start a business with a problem to solve, not a solution!
- 2.Test your hypothesis quickly and move to the next step.
We got offers from startup accelerator programmes! Stay tuned for the forthcoming announcements!
We had a fruitful discussion with scientists from Global Wheat Program at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). We discussed how our organisations could collaborate to produce cell-based wheat grains.
Here are the main takeaways:
- We can order wheat seeds for free on their website
- They have a quality lab where they can produce bread and pasta to test the wheat grains
- They offer wheat flour analysis for quality
- They have many scientists working on wheat that could potentially help if we have specific problems
- 1.We got feedback from an application that was submitted back in April. The fund has decided not to invest, but they shared our application with other funding organisations in their network.
- 2.We applied for an individual grant for Philippe Jutras to have a 6-month salary to continue the grant application process. The outcome will be announced in 4-5 weeks.
- 3.We followed up with an investment fund in the US. They primarily invest in cultivated meat projects but showed interest in producing plant cell culture.
- 1.We got in touch with a participant in the Carbon13 accelerator programme. This programme focuses mainly on climate change and carbon sequestration startups.
- 2.We did a lot of business around the accelerator programmes (interviews, discussing agreements, building profiles, etc.). More information will be given in the coming 2 weeks regarding the final decision.
- 3.We are writing a completely new business pitch deck for the wheat project. We want to add numbers and estimates. This business model is designed with the help of 2 MBAs (Thanks guys!).
- 1.Always remember what your value is as an entrepreneur when dealing with VC partners.
- 2.Read carefully any contract agreements before signing!
- 3.Your business proposal should always be precisely defined.