Eat Good Food. Be Kind. Tell the Truth.

The Long, Lonely Road
by Jack Beuttell -- November 7th, 2013

re. sustainable agriculture, courting investors, & the truth about entrepreneurship

Two weeks have passed since I flew to NYC and met my business partner to pitch AgImpact Fund, a sustainable farmland private equity strategy, to an impact investor. It was our best shot yet at getting our North Carolina pilot deal funded.  My partner had spent months cultivating the relationship and setting the groundwork for the meeting.  We had an hour and used it expeditiously to present the deal and our vision for what would succeed this first acquisition.

Mobile chicken houses for pasture-based hens at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY

Mobile chicken houses for pasture-based hens at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY

The answer was, in a phrase, “we like it, but it’s in North Carolina.”  Nothing against NC, it was just that this particular investor was focusing its time, energy, and money in the Northeast on similar sustainable agriculture pilot projects. It was at once gratifying to know the product we had designed was appealing, but incredibly frustrating that we were knocked out of consideration on geography.

Carrots and leeks at a farmers market in the upper east side.

Carrots and leeks at a farmers market in the upper east side.

Fortunately, the conversation with that investor is still active, but we find ourselves in a familiar place: unfunded.  (I’m reminded of the title of T. Boone Pickens’ entrepreneurial memoir, The First Billion is the Hardest).  We have a fantastic project that delivers high impact and competitive financial returns, but haven’t found the right investor.  I never realized how much courting an investor is like looking for a business partner or a life partner: there is so much nuance and preference that you can’t simply check three boxes, shake hands, and move down the road. The stars have to (and should) align, especially on the first deal.

The famous and gorgeous Blue Hill restaurant at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY.

The famous and gorgeous Blue Hill restaurant at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY.

We’re two years into this and reality sets in: this is really hard.

…wake up another day, smile, and keep on.

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