May 2020 Founders to Funders Virtual Breakfast Recap

“We have always viewed our investors as partners and want to stay engaged with them,” said Zach Gray, the Vice President for Business Development for Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST). 

On Wednesday, May 13th, 114 people attended the CleanTech Alliance’s Founders to Funders virtual breakfast panel, sponsored by Perkins Coie. The event raised over $1,700 in donations for Feeding America to help those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The panel was moderated by Ken Vaughn, the Director of Impact Investments at VertueLab and featured AST’s VP Zach Gray as well as Brad Hunter, the Senior Business Lender of Craft3, and E8 Angel Investor Bob Wallach

Zach’s company AST received investor funding to help get off the ground and to finance research and development of their symbiotic technologies. AST has found that pairing plants with certain strains of fungi creates a symbiotic relationship that allows the plants to be more resistant to stressors such as heat and drought. 

As Brad Hunter mentioned, you don’t have to understand the science behind it to understand the value proposition for farmers. As climate change continues to cause longer and more frequent droughts, having crops that are heat and drought resistant is pivotal to ensuring farmers don’t suffer from reduced yields.  

Craft3 worked with AST to finance short-term working capital initially and then expanded the relationship to include equipment expansion loans.  

Bob Wallach mentioned that he likes to fund startups that are important both socially and economically and AST fit both those criteria by improving food production without the use of pesticides. Bob also admired the fact that Zach and AST were focused on their mission and not just focused on exiting the startup phase. 

Zach discussed AST’s unique deal structure of allowing investors to cash out annually and the importance of having an exit strategy for investors. The panel also talked about how investors reduce the risk and what they look for before funding a new startup.  

This was the final event in the 2019-2020 Breakfast Series. The series will pick back up with new speakers in September. 

To view a recording of the panel, click here