Take a look below at the first 2021 Keynote Speaker! Sign-up for our newsletter to be the first to know about our latest programming announcements as they are announced!
Telling Stories: Highlighting Women Innovators in Agtech
Founder & Chief Content Director
As investment and interest continues to grow in the agtech sector, it is important to document and hear the stories of women, and women of colour, creating new technology in agriculture. Amy Wu, Founder and Chief Content Officer of “From Farms to Incubators” talks about how her documentary, book and how the digital platform of Farms to Incubators has served as a connector and convener for women in the agtech space and those who want to connect with them.
Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement
She is the Creator & Chief Content Director of From Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. It has a mission of highlighting women in food, farming, and farmtech, especially women of color. From Farms to Incubators includes an award-winning documentary short that has been screened at SXSW, and a best-selling book “From Farms to Incubators: Women Revolutionizing How Our Food Is Grown” that was released in May 2021.
In 2020 Amy was named on Worth magazine’s “Groundbreakers 2020 list of 50 Women Changing the World” list. She was also a recipient of the Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence. In 2021 she was named by Food Tank as one of “27 Inspiring Women Reshaping the Food System.”
Scaling Disruptive Companies | Fireside Chat
Dennis Woodside is the President of Impossible Foods. He joined the company in 2019 in the newly-created role and oversees the company’s operations, manufacturing, supply chain, sales and HR functions.
Previously Chief Operating Officer of Dropbox, Dennis is a tech industry veteran and has more than 25 years of experience at both startups and major multinationals. At Dropbox, Dennis helped increase Dropbox’s global revenue to nearly $1.4 billion, and he was part of the company’s IPO in early 2018.
Prior to Dropbox, Dennis was the Chief Executive Officer of Motorola Mobility after its acquisition by Google. During his tenure there, Dennis restructured the business and refined the product strategy, then sold the mobile device business to Lenovo and the cable infrastructure business to Arris.
Before Motorola Mobility, Dennis held various leadership roles at Google from 2003-2012. Underlying every role was the challenge of scaling a fast-growing business with an expanding product set and a consumer pool of literally billions of people.
The Milkman Model, Reimagined
Founder & CEO
Julia Niiro is the founder & CEO of MilkRun, a weekly service delivering locally farmed food directly to consumers through an online marketplace. Recognized for solving two key problems of the local food movement: distribution and low pay, Niiro’s two-year-old business grew 15x in 2020 as she and her team helped farmers shift to eCommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Niiro is a Y Combinator, TechStars Accelerator Alum and TEDx speaker and has been recognized for her innovation and resilience, landing on Inc. Magazine’s list of Top 100 Female Founders and Forbes Next 1000 list.
Problem: Farmers are facing extinction
90 percent of small farms in America are on the brink of extinction. If we don’t change the way food is currently distributed, locally grown food will simply disappear. If mega-industrialized farming becomes our only option for food, we’ll have no more farmer’s markets, no more CSAs, and no more farmers who are stewards to the land. Without radical new systems, the only options for food will come from huge corporations pushing profit over people, and we just don’t want to live in that kind of world.
Solution: The milkman model, reimagined
Groceries travel an average of 1,500 miles to get to your local grocery store. We’ve knocked that average down to a mere 35 miles by cutting out the middleman and introducing the MilkRunner —team members that seamlessly deliver MilkRun directly to your doorstep. That means less pollution, less food waste, less cold storage, and more money kept in our farming community which helps boost the local economy.
True innovation isn’t about inventing “more.” It’s about reimagining and taking the very best of what has always worked in our systems. It’s then about applying the resources that we have available to us today to make them better for the people and communities that need them. Join me to learn about how we’re changing the future of food distribution here at MilkRun.
Global Agrifood Tech Investing - An Asia Pacific Perspective
Robert Williams is a director at Artesian, the most active early-stage venture capital fund in Australia which now manages +$300m USD. Artesian is a global alternative investment management firm with staff in NY, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Jakarta, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. They specialize in funds focused on credit arbitrage and relative value strategies across global financial markets. Their VC strategy is designed to access the financial and strategic returns that the asset class can provide and mitigate the risks of the innovation ecosystem, with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.
Robert leads Artesian’s agrifood VC investment activities and is a portfolio manager for the GrainInnovate Fund and SproutX VC Fund. Prior to joining Artesian, Robert most recently worked as a manager within the agricultural investment team at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, a division within the asset management arm of the Macquarie Group.
2020 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
2019 Keynote Speakers
How Blockchain is Revolutionizing our Food System
IBM Food Trust Director of Offering Management
Ever wonder how blockchain is transforming our food system?
As the IBM Food Trust Director of Offering Management, Suzanne Livingston brings transparency, accountability, and traceability to the food supply chain using blockchain. Food’s journey from farm to table is complex, involving numerous actors and transactions. A number of issues, including food waste, food fraud, and food-borne illness, are exacerbated by limited transparency in the supply chain. Blockchain technology can create unprecedented visibility and accountability within complex, multi-party systems by connecting all actors through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food system data.
Prior to blockchain, Suzanne launched and scaled new offerings for IBM, including social software, cloud collaboration, and the fintech platform for developers. Suzanne leads product management organizations with a collaborative, inclusive approach having been on the front lines of product management, engineering, and user experience. Suzanne founded the MIT Product Management Club, and was a Product Management 101 & 102 Teaching Fellow at Harvard Business School.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from Suzanne about how IBM’s Food Trust blockchain is tackling these issues and why collaboration is key to industry adoption and success.
19 Ways to Kill Your Company
What are the ways you can screw up your company past the point of no return? Brett Brohl is the Managing Director of the Techstar’s Farm to Fork Accelerator and he’s no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship. Brett is an entrepreneur, investor, and mentor, who has bootstrapped, raised venture capital, taken three companies to exit and has had at least one failure along the way. With no shortage of first-hand experience, his keynote presentation will outline the 19 ways you will destroy your company and how to avoid them.
Brett is driven by making a difference in the world by helping entrepreneurs succeed. The Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator is the first Techstars program focused on the digital side of food and agriculture. Partnered with Cargill and Ecolab, the program is looking for the best entrepreneurs across the entire food value chain, from ag tech, to food safety, waste reduction and trace-ability.
Prior to the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Brett served as Director of the inaugural Techstars Startup Next Food & Ag in Partnership with Land O’Lakes and as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Techstars Retail Accelerator in Partnership with Target. Brett is the Founder and Managing Partner of The Syndicate Fund, an early stage venture capital fund investing in retail, marketing, food and agriculture. When he’s not engaging the world’s start-up scene Brett can be found hanging with his wife and kids, driving a lobster boat, or pretending to be a tennis pro.
A Vision of Smarter Cities Through Agriculture
Founder & Managing Director
“Imagine living in a city that values food security as much as it values wifi.”
Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Agritecture Consulting, is on a mission to teach people what happens when we approach agriculture from an architectural perspective.
As the demand for local food grows, innovations in controlled environment agriculture promise to help restaurants and retailers keep up with the preferences of their consumers. All the while investment in indoor agriculture technology and companies continues to skyrocket every year. But as the global food system faces increasing strain, which farming models will pave the way for profitable and resilient food production in and around cities over the next 30 years?
Join industry thought-leader, Henry Gordon-Smith, at #AGRIForum, where he will be discussing the commercial case for vertical and urban farming at a time when food systems and cities are under ever-increasing threat from climate events, population growth, and limited year-round fresh food options.