Accelerators Interviews

The Yield Lab: An AgTech Startup Accelerator

The Yield Lab

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What is The Yield Lab?

The Yield Lab is an AgTech accelerator brings together new innovative technologies focused on improving productivity, enhancing knowledge, eroding boundaries, and merging historically independent ecosystems into a more cohesive agricultural system. The Yield Lab is focused on bridging the critical gap between innovation and fruition of new agricultural technology by supporting early stage companies. The Yield Lab provides new AgTech companies with $100,000 in funding, mentors, and connections supported by an agriculturally solid framework of organizations and businesses from the St. Louis area.

Why start an AgTech accelerator?

The Yield Lab is focused on bridging the critical gap between innovation and fruition of new agricultural technology by supporting early stage companies.

Tell us your founding story. Was there an “ah ha” moment?

Thad, Managing Director was at a Ag conference in New York and saw a number of Venture Capital firms and companies, but all Canada based. He thought why is this not happening in St. Louis of all places, St. Louis is the agriculture hub of the United States. He returned to St. Louis and started spreading the idea with a few Arch Angels, who were supportive of the idea. One afternoon in July, Thad had lunch with Ryan, Principal at Cultivation Capital, who had already prepared a pitch deck for an AgTech accelerator. Thad jumped on board with the idea and began working on a team. In September 2014, the Yield Lab went public.

Tell us about your founding team and their backgrounds.

Thad Simons – Board President of the International Food and Agribusiness Association (IFAMA) and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Novus International, Inc. From 2001 to 2014, he led Novus in its growth into a global animal health and nutrition company with sales exceeding US $1 billion.

Thad’s awards and recognitions include: International Businessperson of the Year, Agribusiness Leader of the Year, and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Jeff Peterson is on the board of the Center for Emerging Technologies in St Louis as an Executive Team member. He previously worked for Monsanto’s strategy group, as Vice President of Strategic Negotiations. He has also served the Chairman of the Board for Thrive St Louis.

Jeff Peterson – Jeff graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and received an MBA from the Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Tom Adamitis formerly served as the Global Vice President of Raw Materials and Energy Procurement for Anheuser-Busch InBev, one of the world’s largest consumer product companies. He supported ABI’s global brewery footprint and managed annual spend exceeding $4.5 billion.

Tom Adamitis – Tom earned his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the University of Illinois. He later received his MBA from the J.L. Kellog Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Chris Danforth – Chris Danforth is a General Partner with the Cultivation Capital Life Science fund and an Investment Committee member of the Cultivation Capital Technology Fund. Chris also sits on the Boards of Directors of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and is Chairman of the Board of Kennelwood Pet Resorts.