...and the Sustainable Texas Investment Club, and Curt's background in technology entrepreneurship and real estate investing. In Spring 2015, Eric de Valpine started work with AFI then joined formally as Partner and CFO in October.
AFI connects values-based impact investors with local sustainable food entreprenuers needing capital to grow Central Texas’ supply of good, clean, fair food, living wage jobs, and quality investment opportunities. Our mission is to support triple-bottom-line (planet, people, profits) social entrepreneurs needing capital to change the world, heal the soil, and create good, clean, fair products and living wage jobs and, in the process, to uncover quality local investment opportunities with market returns.
In general, AFI subscribes to the values and principles of both the Slow Food and Slow Money movements and is a friend/collaborator/financial sponsor of both Slow Food Austin and Slow Money Austin.
In 2015, we saw 59 deals, did 5, 12 are still in process, 6 have asked to be on hold, 2 got funded on their own, and 34 are out.
We think of the deals we did in three categories: ones we “Led”, ones we “Participated In” but are led by another organization, and ones we “Facilitated”, which means we helped a company get money from somewhere, but not from us. These “led”, “participated”, and “facilitated” groupings are important because unlike a typical company, our goal is not to “sell more of our stuff”, but rather to help the companies and the overall food system. So, if we can figure a way for a client company to get money that is not from us, and cheaper (where grant money is the best of all), that’s great and we’ll call that a win.
In 2015, we led Bola Frozen Pizza; participated In Hops & Grains & Bona Dea Gluten Free; and facilitated a USDA grant to Cat Spring Tea and a bank line of credit for Salt & Time's expansion.
Of the deals that went “out”, 11 we didn’t like, 7 didn’t apply, 6 didn’t qualify, 5 quit the process, 2 made it through the process but there was no investor interest, 2 went out of business, and 1 we couldn’t agree to terms.
We grew to 24 individual accredited investors, have 13 informal syndicate partners (organizations that invest), and build relationships with 65 partner organizations in the food, finance, and social good space.
Throughout 2015 we operated in "stealth mode", establishing the philosophical underpinnings, mission, vision, and first year objectives; building the infrastructure; creating the brand and online/social media presence; reaching out to the Austin food, finance, and social good communities; recruiting companies, investors, and syndicate partners; completing deals; and converting lessons learned into improved processes.Building the infrastructure included regulatory compliance, deal flow processes and tools and templates, legal document templates, banking relationships, and software development to automate deal flow management, contact relationship management, and objectives, projects, & deliverables.
We initiated an Expert Network of professionals interested in mentoring firms through strategic issues and tactically advising on specifics such as financial projection creation, local sourcing, retailing, ranching, and others.
Over time, the website evolved to include an extensive blog repository and comprehensive calendar of regional and national food, finance, and social good events, as well as a listing of organizations locally and nationally serving food and social enterprises. Additionally, we build a 65+ page powerpoint pitch affectionately known as the “MegaDeck”.
2016 Sneak Peak
In 2016, our focus will be on doing more deals, and doing them better. That means growing our investor and company base, speeding up the fundraising process, and improving communication with both companies and investors.
We'll exit "stealth mode" with a press launch and social media outreach campaign. We'll run more events, starting with our "ATXFood+Finance16" weekend April 30 & May 1 at Springdale Farm and Eden East.
We'll create tools to assess and track "impact"; to provide investors with tax-advantaged ways to invest; and to curate education for social entrepreneurs and impact investors.
Spread the Word
Do you believe that good, clean, & fair food can help our climate, our agricultural and food sector, our local economy? Is it reasonable to apply the principles of conscious consuming we apply to where we shop and what we buy to where we invest and what we support? If so, please contact us, subscribe to the newsletter, and follow us on Twitter (@atxfoodinvestor).
We are actively seeing new individual accredited investors, new syndicate partners, and of course, new cool companies looking to raise some money, do something great!
"Insights" is our blog of case studies, newsletters, podcasts, videos, tips & tools, research, and more at the intersection of food, finance, and social good.