Yuan Shi Joins The51 as Food and AgTech Fund Obtains Over $50 Million


Shi launched the climate component at CDL-Vancouver.

The former Vancouver director of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) has joined The51. Yuan Shi joins The51’s previously announced Food and AgTech Fund as a director.

Shi joined The51 after five years at CDL-Vancouver, where she founded and launched the climate arm of the accelerator, and where she claims to have led her team to reach over $3 billion in equity creation from holding companies. Prior to that, Shi worked in global banking and markets at HSBC after serving in a senior role at Tesla for three years. The51 described Shi as an M&A expert.

“I wanted to solve this problem because it means a lot to me,” Shi said.

Shi told BetaKit that she brings both experience and expertise in the climate, food and agriculture ecosystem, from both a technical and business perspective. “I can really help the team close the fund,” she said, adding that she has a strong background in scaling teams.

“I want to support the team and really expand the team, whether it’s fundraising, team management, leadership, or networking,” Shi said.

Shi joins The51’s second fund as it exceeds $50 million and is oversubscribed. When the fund was first announced in 2021, The51 said it hoped to raise $25-30 million. Fifty million became the new target as retail investors doubled their pledges and institutional investors showed more interest. The51 expects the fund to close at the end of May.

Within the fund, Shi is responsible for building the ecosystem, deal sourcing and due diligence, and portfolio management.

“Yuan’s outstanding track record will amplify our efforts for the Food and AgTech Fund and strengthen The51’s leadership position in this industry,” said Alison Sunstrum, Managing Partner of the Food and AgTech Fund. “His experience in accelerating and commercializing climate technologies, global markets and North American mergers and acquisitions is a critical addition to our fund’s mission to identify, finance and champion the companies that are building the world. where we want to live.”

Shi said she is passionate, for personal reasons, about working in the food and agriculture sector, which she sees as part of the climate ecosystem. While she described the village she grew up in in China as a beautiful place, it was also poverty stricken. Shi said he saw with his own eyes how people developed the economy and built factories, but ended up sacrificing land, and subsequently climate, environment and agriculture.

“I wanted to solve this problem because it means a lot to me,” Shi said.

RELATED: The51 Partners with Atlantic Women’s Venture Capital Fund in Women-Focused Venture Capital Initiative

Shi immigrated to Canada when he was 17 years old. She studied environmental engineering at the University of Alberta before embarking on her professional career.

Shi said The51 uses investing to drive social and environmental change while delivering a return to its investors. “We believe financial return is important, and I think there is so much potential in building and scaling significant businesses in this space that generate strong returns for the investor and our economy. “, she said.

The Food and AgTech Fund is The51’s first sector fund. The fund focuses on investing in diverse women and founders from across Canada and the United States, and is particularly interested in companies that are in their early stages, have diverse management teams and have the potential to expand globally.

Sunstrum, formerly of Builders VC and GrowSafe Systems, joined The 51 in December 2021 as a general partner. Kookai Chaimahawong joined at the same time as a venture capital partner, bringing with her four years of experience from Pangea Ventures and her work as a partnership consultant for the United Nations Development Programme. Both got to work helping The51 raise capital for the Food and AgTech Fund.

Shi expects there to be at least three to four people dedicated to the Food and AgTech fund, and the company hopes to hire one or two associates or senior associates. The extended The51 team will provide operational support.

RELATED: Alison Sunstrum and Kookai Chaimahawong Join The51’s New AgTech Fund

The amount of the check issued by the new fund will depend on whether The51 leads or co-leads a round, but Shi expects a typical check to be for $500,000. The51 is still working on the details of the fund’s longevity.

Although The51 has yet to roll out investments from the fund, it is in close due diligence with a few companies. Shi said The51 would be ready to invest as soon as he finishes deciding on the structure of the fund.

The fund intends to invest in early stage companies, at the seed, seed expansion and Series A levels. Shi felt that the VCs she sees in the field of food and agriculture tend to focus generally on Series A or Series B increases.

“We always talk about where promising companies are in the early stages of the pipeline,” she said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. There must be a team to do it. So we wanted to support a business right from the start and grow it. »

Contrary to Yuan’s assertion that most food and AgTech VCs focus on Series A and B, Builders VC and Conexus Venture Capital Inc., through its Emmertech fund, invest in early-stage AgTech startups. But where The51 promises to stand out with its Food and AgTech fund is its focus on climate and diversity.

“To invest in The51 Ventures’ Food and AgTech fund is to invest in the women and diverse teams who are driving change and innovation in food and AgTech and are experiencing tremendous success,” reads on The51 website. “The next generation of agriculture is more than food – it includes new forms of protein, textiles and cellular agriculture, and a strong focus on improving food systems and sustainability, at a time when the climate change has so dramatically shown how much change is needed.”

Image courtesy of Yuan Shi.


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