Tips from Startups: What you need to know before starting an agrifood business

Mar 25, 2022

Tips for starting an agrifood business

Nothing beats direct experience to tell you how it really is! Here’s what startups tell us they wish they’d known before starting an agrifood business.

Before starting an agrifood business, I wish I had known…

“How to actually run a business! I wanted to solve a problem and running a business was the result. I had no idea how to run a business, basic financial planning etc. In the end, it’s all about the right attitude, then you can deal with everything. But it would have been convenient if I had a business education, knew something about logistics, how to manage finances etc.”

Chantal Engelen, Co-Founder at Kromkommer

“That people are very personal about their food and attach emotions to it. And in relation to agriculture, that you’re working with biological inputs, which is different than other processes as biology does its own thing.”

David Rosenberg, Co-Founder & CEO at Aerofarms

“How long everything would take and also how much quicker it would go if I had brought experts on board earlier.”

Solveiga Pakštaitė, Founder at Mimica Touch

“That retail is such a challenging environment”

Willem Sodderland, Founder & Seaweirdo at Seamore Foods

“How different running your own business is to running another business. As much stress as I thought there was when running other businesses, there was always a safety net. When you’re running your own, there is a completely different level of stress and dedication. And I used to think that I couldn’t switch off when I was running my own company but your inability to switch off when it’s your own is completely different. It’s all consuming, it affects your personal life. Your relationships with your friends, with your family. That said I don’t want to sound too negative. If my current business fell over, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Steve Dring, CEO & Co-Founder at Growing Underground

“I wish we had understood the food safety and regulatory environment. We didn’t know anything about that at all. At the very beginning, we got advice from lawyers who said that our neighbour to neighbour model doesn’t fall within the realm of needing to be regulated and we didn’t revisit. And then we introduced a new model where volunteers pick up food from businesses and that definitely needs to be regulated. It’s really difficult to understand the system, what the actual rules are and what the whole ecosystem is.”

Saasha Celestial-One, Co-Founder at Olio

“That the food industry is the oldest industry the world –we’ve always had to eat. Because of that, it’s going to be more multi-faceted than other sectors. It’s a high-volume business, and typically low margin industry compared to others. So, it’s important to know that price matters, and that speed matters and so really designing your products with those things in mind… and the fact that there are a lot of players that exist that have scale… as an entrepreneur, how are you going to overcome those scale challenges?”

-Marc Zornes, Co-Founder at Winnow Solutions

“I wish we’d had someone working with us who knew about food regulation and legislation – it’s such an overlooked area of the industry but it’s absolutely vital for a successful business.”

Kate Hofman, CEO & Co-Founder GrowUp Urban Farms

“That the retail world is very intricate, complicated and forever changing! It’s not as simple as a handshake and doing business, it’s a much bigger beast.”

Jim Cregan, Co-Founder at Jimmy’s Iced Coffee

“I think there are so many different types of food business – starting a social enterprise catering company versus a high-tech computer vision product are universes apart, and I feel fortunate to have had the experience to do both. Before starting ImpactVision, I wish I’d known how challenging it is to sell hardware to the food industry and how slim the profit margins are for most food companies. Even so, I wouldn’t rather work in any other sector than food and in the supply chain specifically – I think we are at a point of significant digitisation, which is really exciting.”

Abi Ramanan, CEO and Co-Founder of ImpactVision

“That coming from a combined food and biotech perspective, I wish I had appreciated the fact that things always take longer than expected.”

Arturo Elizondo, CEO & Co-Founder at Clara Foods

“I started when I was in college, I didn’t know anything… We knew we had a great idea and we focused on getting the product out and luckily found some early adopters who would forgive inconsistencies in the product. But for anyone looking to start and not doing it as a hobby – I would advise focusing on making the best tasting product because that’s what earns you the opportunity to do everything… like your mission.”

Dan Kurzrock, CoFounder & Chief Grain Officer at Regrained

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