Emily Bernstein, Veronica Fresneau

4 reasons you should join Rockstart’s AgriFood Acceleration Program

At Rockstart, we empower founders and their startups to drive positive change on a global scale. We do this through tailored accelerator programs and follow-on investments, but also by giving startups access to markets and to a community of peers. As this year comes to a close, so has the Rockstart accelerator program for AgriFood startups. This is a great opportunity for us to tell you more about the accelerator program and why you should consider joining if you are an early stage startup in the agrifood space.

The accelerator program for AgriFood startups ran for six months and featured all of Rockstart’s track record program elements. We consolidated these elements into what we call “Deep Dive” format. A “Deep Dive” is an intensive period during each month involving a combination of tailored workshops, group sessions, mentor meetings, investor introductions and events. Through these Deep Dive weeks, we empower founders to develop their businesses and to become investor ready.

The startups had 40 workshops and sessions, 110+ consultancy hours, introductions to 100+ investors and 600+ hours of mentor meetings. They also participated in six online events, where they had the chance to pitch their vision for the future of agrifood.

#1: How to build communication strategies and why mentorship is important

Photo credits @Rockstart 2020

In the first Deep Dive, we introduced startups to the Rockstart AgriFood team, their fellow founders and their future mentors. Together, they worked on Team Dynamics. They also had an introduction to communication strategies, financial modeling and how to structure a pitch.

The second Deep Dive was geared towards communication strategy. Rockstart organized a storytelling workshop as well as an “Ask me Anything” session with the creative director at Oatly to equip startups with essential storytelling skills. The teams also had a mentorship workshop and gained insights into team building through a “Remote Work Culture” workshop.

#2: Learn all about your financials, preparing for fundraising and the importance of access to market

Photo credits @Rockstart 2020

Deep Dives three and four focused on financials, fundraising and access to market. In Deep Dive three, we organized a session on financial modeling with business angels and investors. Startups also learned more about the fundamentals of fundraising, pitching to investors, and marketing strategies and tools. Additionally, teams participated in a “Knowledge Sharing” session and an “Ask me Anything” session. We also organized a panel discussion with one of the Rockstart’s AgriFood Fund investors Vækstfonden and our portfolio company, Beyond Leather Materials. The Deep Dive ended with an investor event, followed by a team building session, where startups enjoyed a virtual Escape Room.

Week four focused on the specifics of access to market. Startups learned about pricing, international strategy and sales, fundraising, and pitching.  They also participated in a second investor event. In addition, we organized a session on corporate partnerships. We discussed the best approach to corporate pilot projects and how to build relationships with corporates around the world. The week’s main event was Ecosystem Day, where we had 20 corporates in attendance to discuss corporate-startup collaboration and the potential for future innovations within agrifood.

#3: Experiencing pitching on Rockstart’s online stage

Photo credits @Rockstart 2020

The second to last Deep Dive was dynamic and action-packed, as startups prepared to pitch live to investors, mentors, founders, media and the general public at “Rockstart AgriFood Virtual Demo Day”. Startup pitches looked a little different this year than in previous years, but they were just as fun virtually as they are in real life. To prepare for Demo Day, startups had several sessions on pitch content and structure, stage presence, and of course, lots of practice. More than 200 people attended the Demo Day including investors, corporate partners, media, startups from Europe and beyond.

#4 Scaling together

Photo credits @Rockstart 2020

The Rockstart AgriFood team designed the final Deep Dive to prepare startups to continue to scale beyond the six month program. This week involved a blend of 1:1 sessions, workshops on investor reporting and stakeholder management, guidance on how to work with boards and advisory boards, and general offboarding activities.

The agrifood domain is unique in that founders work across diverse disciplines. They find solutions from soil to gut, such as biotechnology for crop optimization and robotics for milking and harvesting. The way in which we support these innovations at Rockstart is also unique because we are an accelerator-VC. This means that we offer support from the very beginning on many levels.

First, our tailored accelerator program ensures that startups have access to the knowledge and network that can help them grow their businesses. We do this through warm introductions, workshops, mentorship and many other hands-on events. Second, joining the Rockstart AgriFood acceleration program means potential co-investment from Rockstart. Our Rockstart AgriFood fund allows us to provide follow-on investments up to Series B. This investment model gives startups the access to capital they need to achieve their long-term visions and to create a more sustainable future.

We are excited to see what the next steps will be for the startups who just completed the program and we know they will continue to achieve great things! If you are interested in learning more about the Rockstart AgriFood acceleration program, read more here.

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