Fresh Ventures: Building ventures for system change
A venture-building program and startup studio, Fresh Ventures aims to transform the agrifood system to a regenerative and resilient state.
The food system is extremely complex and responsible for many environmental and social impacts. New ventures are one approach to transforming the system. Fresh is a venture-building program and startup studio working with entrepreneurs to use systems approaches to solve the biggest challenges in the agrifood system. It provides vital infrastructure in the form of knowledge, network, finance, and talent development to maximize the chances of systemic ventures helping transform the food system.
- Partner: Impact Express
- Date: Launched November 2021
The food system is a key driver of environmental and social impacts
The food system is estimated to be responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also depletes biodiversity, and is among the leading causes of erosion, drought, and deforestation. It’s the No. 1 employer of people below the poverty line, and still leaves more than 800 million people undernourished. It is also an extremely complex system with a variety of lock-ins and power dynamics preventing change. Due to complex global supply chains and centralized power, farmers are “locked” into the existing system, with few possibilities and incentives to change.
Few ventures address key leverage points to transform the food system
There are two main reasons why it is difficult for ventures to tackle such a complex problem. First, current innovation models are not designed to properly address complex challenges, deliver system change, and drive a new economy. Second, while an entrepreneur’s path is not easy, in general, impact entrepreneurship has additional structural barriers that are difficult to overcome.
Supporting ventures with knowledge, infrastructure, and capital
Fresh is a start-up studio building mission-driven ventures that will transform the food system. Fresh is sharing knowledge and providing the right infrastructure to increase development speed and reduce risks for impact-driven entrepreneurs. Using a systems approach to venturing, Fresh is not only looking at interdependencies at different levels, but it is working to address critical barriers and unlock key capacities that will enable the broader sector to shift to a fundamentally sustainable state.
Building successful mission-driven ventures to revolutionize the food system
Fresh’s goal is to build up to four mission-driven, steward-owned ventures per year, aimed at driving the transformation to a regenerative and resilient food system. These are catalyzed through an annual, four-month pre-studio program, where we will source, select, and work with 30-40 talented potential co-founders. Successfully funded ventures graduate into the Fresh Studio, where we incubate the ventures over 12-36 months, working to achieve product-market fit and attracting follow-on funding.
The inaugural program concluded in May 2022. Two ventures will continue into the studio, and three into the staging ground.