UC Davis Agripreneurs - Photo credit: Edward Silva

Day 3 at the Ag Innovation Entrepreneurship Academy
Make the Leap

The third and final day of the Ag Innovation Entrepreneurship Academy was dedicated to giving the budding entrepreneurs the tools and mentorship they need to make the leap.

Andrew Hargadon, faculty director of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and professor of technology management at the Graduate School of Management, advised the students on finding mentors. Entrepreneurs were also encouraged to develop a clear schedule of milestones for their venture’s first year. These milestones address the major uncertainties of the new business, and will help entrepreneurs identify the core skillsets and experiences required to meet the milestones. A common mistake is to build a core team from friends and colleagues who share the same skills. The milestone approach ensures that the right mix and balance of skills are brought on to the core team, depending on the nature of the venture.

Guest speaker Steven M. Watkins, chief technology officer at Metabolon, spoke about the importance of knowing the customer and the market. Many new entrepreneurs tend to overthink and under-do.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.”

John Selep, who serves on the board of the Sacramento Angels, discussed how to pitch to angel investors and what investors are looking for in a startup. Selep impressed upon the group the importance of speaking to your audience, by brutally refining and simplifying your message right from the introduction. He encouraged us to take a serious look at market risk, technology risk and finance risk as well as team risk. He also advised us to address the pace of innovation and the speed at which the new technology will be adopted.

In the afternoon, the academy heard from a panel on social entrepreneurs. Josette Lewis of the World Food Center, Cleve Justis of the Potrero Group and Christina Tamer of Invested Development spoke about inspiring social entrepreneurs and how their solutions have not only addressed market demands but needs as well.

The academy concluded with a mentoring session in the evening, offering us another opportunity to get feedback from at least three mentors. Mentors provided advice on perfecting the pitch, market sizing and segmentation, go-to-market strategy and what it would take to succeed in the new venture. The mentoring session really helped me and my fellow participants believe that our venture can be a successful reality. We left the academy invigorated to start off our agTech ventures.

The academy is funded in part by a grant from the Economic Development Agency’s i6 Challenge under the Sacramento Region Clean AgTech Innovation Center Development Project. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendation are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Agency or the U.S Department of Commerce .


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