published on August 31, 2018 - 10:33 AM
Written by David Castellon

If you’re looking to start up or grow an agriculture-related business but don’t have the capital, your opportunity is on the way.

Western Growers, the Irvine-based advocacy group for produce farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico, will host its second AgSharks Competition during the Western Growers 93rd Annual Meeting Oct. 30 in Palm Desert.

Entrepreneurs and startups developing innovative solutions in food, agtech and agriculture will have opportunities to receive a minimum of $250,000 in investment capital to support the development and growth of their businesses from Western Growers and S2G Ventures, the latter a multi-stage venture fund investing in food- and agriculture-related projects.

“The farmers who grow our vegetables, fruits and nuts have never faced as challenging of a regulatory climate as they do today,” Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers, said in a press release. “It’s now more important than ever to invest in innovation solutions and technologies that will play a crucial role in helping farmers grow more with less.

“We welcome S2G Ventures as our partner in providing the resources needed to fuel technology that will solve real world problems.”

The competition varies from the television show, “Shark Tank,” in that five finalists will be selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges — the AgSharks — consisting of venture capitalists and fresh produce farmers. Like the show, the judges will decide on the spot whether to invest and how much to invest.

The entrepreneurs must then accept the offer, negotiate it or decline it. In addition to investment capital, successful entrants also will receive international recognition, mentoring from S2G and Western Growers officials and potential access to farms where they can evaluate their new technologies.

“We are excited to partner with Western Growers for the second consecutive year in finding the next great set of entrepreneurs delivering innovative solutions to the farm,” Chuck Templeton, managing director of S2G Ventures, said in the release.

Last year, two agtech startups, Hazel Technologies, Inc. with offices in Salinas and Chicago, and Georgia-based AgVoice received a combined $2.25 million in total investment offers from S2G Ventures. Hazel Technologies, a start-up that develops products that extend the shelf life of fresh produce, receive $2 million.

“The outcome of the AgSharks event was a major step forward for Hazel Tech,” Aidan Mount, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said in the release. “S2G’s investment has had great impact in accelerating our business growth and the opportunity to pitch in front of [Western Growers] members was invaluable. I think the event is only going to get bigger and better from here out.”

To enter the competition, follow the online application process at and submit by Sept. 30.

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