FoA 323: The Changing Venture Capital Landscape with Mark Blackwell of Builders VC

Visit our quarterly presenting sponsor: www.CalgaryAgBusiness.com

Builders VC: https://www.builders.vc

FoA 169: Investing in Farmland with Carter Malloy of AcreTrader https://player.captivate.fm/episode/2d02dd15-9faa-469b-8b5d-5b99233a3a53

FoA 188: Fintech Meets Agtech to Invest in Farmland https://player.captivate.fm/episode/44a98802-07c3-4295-87c0-e0965881e5b2

Joining us on today’s episode is Mark Blackwell of Builders VC. Mark is actually based in Calgary, but Builders is a Silicon Valley - based venture fund that focuses on modernizing antiquated industries. So they focus in not only agriculture, but also healthcare, industrials, real estate and construction. They have a portfolio of over 60 companies, investing from seed to series a. The team has a long history of investing in agtech before they founded Builders when they invested as part of Kosla Ventures in companies such as Granular and the Climate Corp. 

Mark and I talk a lot about the current state of venture capital, and what areas of agtech he’s most excited to invest in companies with bold visions and strategic plans. I’ll warn you, this episode gets a little into the weeds of venture capital. I’m by no means any sort of an expert on this, but if you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick and very basic primer: 

Venture capitalists start and manage funds to invest in startup companies. They are backed by investors, called limited partners or LPs that give them money to place these bets. When VCs have money from their investors that they have not yet deployed to startups, they call that money dry powder. VCs do take a management fee from those investments, but the real money is made when a company exits. In other words it is sold or goes public. That is why we’ll talk about M&A activity which is mergers and acquisitions. When companies in their portfolio exits, that is when the VC can return the fund, or provide returns to their investors and themselves. We also reference SPACs at one point in this conversation, which could be a whole other podcast, but just know that stands for special purpose acquisition company and it is a vehicle that allows companies to go public that was super popular a year ago, but has fallen out of favor based on a number of factors I won’t get into here. 

Ok hopefully that provides good context for this insightful conversation with Mark Blackwell. Mark is a general partner and lead of the Canadian Office at Builders. Previously, he was a product manager at SolarWinds which he joined when they acquired GNS3 Technologies where Mark had been the COO. He also had a background in venture capital and investment banking before that.

About the Podcast

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Future of Agriculture
Future of Agriculture Podcast

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About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.