Andersons’ Venture Capital Arm Ready to Boost Start-Ups

BY JON CHAVEZ
TOLEDO BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

The Andersons’ Inc. has launched a venture capital fund to help it find and partner with innovative companies or entrepreneurs involved in developing technologies or breakthroughs in agriculture.

The Maumee Ventures fund was capitalized at the end of December by The Andersons, and although the company declined to disclose the size of the fund, company spokesman Debra Crow said the fund could invest up to $5 million each in start-ups looking for seed money or more mature companies looking for a second round of funding.

“We’re seeing it as an opportunity to leverage the expertise and the forward-thinking of some of these start-ups,” Ms. Crow said.

The Andersons, based in Maumee, will be looking for early-stage companies with the potential to make advancements in agriculture that align with the company’s core businesses.

For example, the company could invest in start-ups developing solutions and products in the areas of plant nutrients, crop protection, grain supply chain, precision agriculture, and renewable energy.

Ms. Crow said the company not only would be looking to help fund such start-ups, it also is willing to provide its own expertise to the right venture.

In 2013 The Andersons made its first foray into venture capital by making an investment in a Kansas brokerage firm that uses financial contracts to help companies offset the risk posed by unpredictable weather.

The Maumee agribusiness became a significant minority investor in eWeatherRisk of Overland Park and benefited from the experience, Ms. Crow said. “That was kind of our first foray into this type of [venture capital] environment,” she added.

The company was aware that some of its competitors are beginning to back start-ups that could develop agriculture advancements, so it seemed logical that The Andersons do the same, Ms. Crow said.

“Technology plays a part in all industries, including agriculture. We want solutions for our customers so it makes sense to help move things forward,” she said.

The Andersons does a significant amount of research and development on its own, but if promising developments are taking place elsewhere, the Maumee company wants to be involved, she said.

The Maumee Ventures fund will be industry specific, rather than geographically specific. That means The Andersons will be looking at start-ups anywhere as long as what they are involved in relates to agriculture and the Maumee company’s core businesses.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.
Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Retail/2015/01/29/Andersons-venture-capital-arm-ready-to-boost-start-ups.html#fFx0Yy0glugUqzOG.99

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