What kind of traction are you looking for before you invest in an agtech startup?

George Kellerman / June, 2018


George Kellerman, COO and General Partner of Yamaha Motor Ventures explain what they look for in startups when choosing to invest such as are they solving a perceived or real problem, and if they have a working prototype.

Video transcript:

What kind of traction are you looking for before you invest in an agtech startup?

When I’m looking into investing in a startup, I want to make sure of a couple of things. I want to make sure the team actually understands the problem that they are trying to solve. Not the perceived problem, but the actual problem they are trying to solve. I’ve seen startups, where they go to the grower and say ‘here, is a solution’, and the grower says, ‘that’s great, but that’s not my problem, my problem is something else’. So, they need to really understand the problem.

The second thing that is really important is that they have a working prototype that they actually have at least one or hopefully more than one customer that have used the product in the field. Proven that it is rugged, durable, and reliable.

It’s very easy to build a prototype in a lab or a garage. It’s another thing to get it into a harsh environment where you’ve got climate, rain, mud, dust, and frankly, you are going to have people using the equipment that may not be familiar with the robotics, the automation, or whatever it is you’re trying to do. They can be very hard on the equipment, so you want to make sure that they have at least a working prototype.

Hopefully, they have done at least one season of testing and then you can then see, ok, they understand the problem, they built a prototype to address that problem, the growers have been given some good positive feedback, now they’re on a patch to actually build that and scaling it up.



  • George Kellerman, Yamaha Motor Ventures
  • June, 2018
  • 1:38
  • Startup Basics, Agtech

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