The Startupbootcamp Mentor Spotlight is a series of interviews profiling inspiring stories from our extended network of mentors at Startupbootcamp FoodTech Rome. Today, the spotlight is focused on our mentor Hadar Sutovsky, from Israel.
Hadar brings both an extensive experience in global business development, licensing, sales & marketing in international sectors of Foodtech, Consumer Health, and Sustainable Agriculture, as well as an in-depth scientific approach.
Hadar is General Partner at Aquagro Fund which is a dedicated impact investment management firm that seeks to generate strong financial returns by deploying capital in game-changing technology companies that address critical global needs in the fields of smart agriculture, food and water.
Before that Hadar was Global Segment Manager and the Corporate Open Innovation Leader at Frutarom industries.
Hadar holds an MBA from the Recanati Business School at the Tel Aviv University specializing in Management of technology, entrepreneurship and strategic innovation. She is an honored MSc and Ph.D. (Candidate) in Molecular Microbiology & Biotechnology from the Tel Aviv University. On her free time, Hadar volunteers as a certified Yoga teacher to contribute to the community.
M: “So, Hadar what brings you to Startupbootcamp FoodTech? Why did you choose to join Startupbootcamp FoodTech as a mentor?”
Startupbootcamp’s values and goals are certainly a factor! I am proud to collaborate with an organization that is leading the movement and trends in game-changing technologies that address critical global needs in the industry.
Also, I have met Peter Kruger, CEO & MD at Startupbootcamp FoodTech on July 2017 in Israel during the FoodTech Fast-Track World Tour, his presentation and talk were very interesting, I enjoyed hearing his thoughts and inputs on the acceleration programs that support startups with direct access to an international network of the most relevant mentors, partners, and investors to help them scale. We agreed that the Startupbootcamp FoodTech and my fields of interest and activity are well aligned.
I consider myself an innovator and I love working with organizations that are leading the future of the industry. I feel that I bring extensive entrepreneurship and scientific/market analysis knowledge in the Ag and Food industries including a proven track record of bringing innovations into the global market by successfully implementing and validating product commercialization, makes me an excellent match for mentoring. Also, the role of mentoring excites me because I love the idea of helping to establish cutting-edge technologies, products and companies in our ecosystem and I know I can help in delivering results from day one.
In the past 10 years, over few positions and roles in different global companies, I have been establishing new business and new products globally. Leading and establishing Plant-based-proteins, Plant-based ingredients business, while working with Solbar and later as an open innovation leader with Frutarom, gave me invaluable global strategy experience. Both, as Global Unilever open innovation scouter and as a Partner at Aquagro Fund, I am screening, analyzing technologies, startups and companies from all over the wide world, these positions, give me the unique opportunity to engage with leaders of industry, and definitely enables me to be a valuable mentor.
Finally, as I volunteer as a certified yoga teacher in my community, I have a holistic approach to aligning my values with my business, to think creatively and entrepreneurially. I chose to join Startupbootcamp FoodTech as a mentor since; I firmly believe that I am a good fit in Startupbootcamp’s collaborative, entrepreneurial, and intellectual culture.
M: “What do you look for in an early-stage foodtech startup and what is the most critical aspect to get an investment?”
When considering an investment in foodtech & agtech and looking ahead to our fund Aquagro II, I look for companies which address a major market need.
Defined as “must have”, the solution has to be a “game changer”, the company must have a strong intellectual property and know-how, and good management and partners.
The most critical aspects are Team, here I look at management skills, marketing skills, financial skills, references to the team and experienced management team.
Another aspect is product differentiation; startups need to show proprietary and patentability of their product, a technology-driven solution, solving a “MUST HAVE” problem in a major market segment. From market and business model point of view, it has to be a clear need for a substantial market and substantial growth.
M:”As an expert in innovation and technology, how do you see the future of food tech?”
The food we grow, harvest, process, trade, transport, store sell and consume is the essential connecting thread between people, prosperity, and the planet.
Innovation does not stand-alone; it is born due to needs for change and from major threats on our food systems. I see the focus of research and innovation efforts on the transition to a sustainable and circular food systems and circular economy in general. Innovation and business opportunities exist in addressing challenges such as: food security, addressing climate change, reducing waste, better health & well-being. Thus, the future of foodtech and foodtech innovation is in products and technologies like: next wave protein sources that provide options allowing for a dietary shift to more plant-based proteins, I also believe that cultured meat will rise in the next 4 years. From a health and wellness perspective meal replacement drinks, nutraceuticals, sugar replacements, salt reduction systems, natural preservatives and novel ingredients can be part of product reformulation and dietary switch to treat global obesity for example.
Sustainable aquaculture, urban agriculture, insect farming all these have an outcome in ensuring food security, as well as having an impact on malnutrition, I believe that also genome editing tools have an important role in generating economically important non-GMO crops. An integral part of all this is reducing food waste in the value chain, reducing consumer food waste, reducing packaging waste, shifting towards a regenerative agriculture that regenerates the soil and revitalizes the ecosystem, and closing nutrient loops by nutrient and energy recovery from waste streams. For that matter, smart packaging, more IoT techs that will engage consumers to less food waste cause, more technologies in Bioenergy and Biomaterials and next-generation supply chains will suit perfectly and will attract more investments from investors, corporates and also from governments.