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AgFunder hires business development director to target institutions

Cole Orobetz joins the crowd-funding platform from a Canadian food & agri VC firm.

AgFunder, an crowd-funding platform for agriculture and agtech start-ups, has hired Cole Orobetz as its director of business development.

Joining from Avrio Capital, a Canadian venture capital fund which invests solely in food and agriculture, Orobetz had served as an investment director and oversaw hundreds of deals sustainable agriculture and organic food sector.

AgFunder created the new position at the beginning of the year and has been looking for a candidate ever since, AgFunder chief executive and cofounder Rob Leclerc told Agri Investor. Orobetz will work closely with institutional investors and attract new investors into the field. “We have really been waiting for right person, we have been taking our time and talking to a lot of people, it’s just about finding the right fit.”

Orobetz will “leverage [his] industry expertise to increase awareness for AgFunder not only as a place for unique deal opportunities but as an effective source of syndication,” said a statement.

“His expertise in agriculture along with his accounting, private equity, and corporate finance background make him the ideal fit for AgFunder and for his role working with our investors,” Leclerc said in a statement.

Leclerc highlighted agtech as a space which could bring new investors into agri. “The technology side, that’s going to be what drives lots of the change and new investors into the space,” Leclerc said. “Institutional investors are very interested in technologies because they really can amplify the value of the assets they may have.”

Leclerc described real assets as “defensive”, pointing to the growing need for food as a reason for agri to hold its value. “Investors invest in these type of assets more for [the purpose of] preservation but not necessarily for the growth,” he said.

“From a business perspective, I think the potential for AgFunder to eventually grow to reach a global investor base to add value beyond traditional business development channels is really obvious, and we are well positioned to capitalise on this,” Orobetz said in a statement.

Orobetz founded Earth First when he was just 18. The company, which is still going, provides recycled plastic to underground utility companies.