Ag Tech Investments News

Omnivore Partners invests in ventures developing technologies

Mark Kahn, Founding Partner, Omnivore Partners said,"“We both believed that agriculture entrepreneurship is going to become a huge sector and that it desperately needed capital, because traditional venture capital funds ignored it." A venture capital firm that invests in ventures that come up with breakthrough technologies for food, agriculture and rural economy sectors. “We saw this as an opportunity and decided to raise a fund,” he explains, as to why Omnivore Partners came into being.

Jinesh Shah, Founding Partner, adds that they believed agriculture was going through interesting times, thanks to a growing population with changed dietary habits – from a grain-based one to a protein-based diet. They also believed that this shift will last for a couple of generations and decided to focus on agriculture and food sectors. The two launched their fund raising activities in late 2011 and raised ₹260 crore for the first fund all from domestic investors – a mix of strategic investors, financial institutions, family offices and wealthy individuals. “When we saw our venture capital peers only focussed on urban India, we saw this gap and we found the firm to address that gap,” explains Mark, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard, who had worked in Godrej Agrovet before founding Omnivore with Jinesh. Omnivore has 12 active investments and invests in three areas – agriculture technology, innovative food and rural livelihoods. “We are typically seed and Series A investors and then we have follow on for Series B,” says Mark.

Global impact seen

Omnivore invests 3-14 crore in a venture and picks up stakes in the 20 per cent plus range.

Omnivore believes that Indian innovation and engineering in the space of smallholder agriculture can have a global impact. “Technologies from India can go to smallholder farmers around the world; small holder farmers represent half of the farmers in the world. We are seeing that with our portfolio companies which are essentially making in India for the world,” says Mark.

Mark said,“We are targeting net rupee returns of 25 per cent,” adding that there is a misconception about the agriculture sector. “People look at agri GDP and say it is not growing fast. But look at Mahindra, Godrej Agrovet, Jain Irrigation, Mahyco, Rallis… India may have small farmers, but they have big agri businesses and those businesses have done incredibly well,” he adds.


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