Bart van der Zande on building the world’s first regenerative startup studio

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What exactly is a startup studio and why is it fundamental for the future of region food and agriculture? Why can’t we see companies reaching the scale and impact we need? We dive deep into these questions with Bart van der Zande, co-founder of Fresh Ventures.

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Fresh Ventures is a startup studio focused on region agriculture and food companies based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Together with Bart, we discuss the startup studio model and how it can generate more successful and surviving companies that focus on the regeneration of soils at scale. 

In addition, Bart gives his thoughts on how people with experience in building funds, creating organizations and raising money can help becoming active in soil.

The Reason Startups Fail

Fresh Ventures’ goal is to build a process for people to get involved in and to create new companies that accelerate a circular and regenerative food system. 

Aside from issues within the team, one of the biggest reasons startups fail are timing and the ability of the company to actually solve a problem.

“The main thing is really looking at what can go wrong and what are the reasons startups succeed or fail within. For example, the specific niche that we’re working in, how can we, from the beginning, organize on decreasing the risk and do it in a repeatable way. I think the average of startup studios lies around almost four created ventures a year. We use the startup studio model very early in the stages. It is the beginning of the pipeline.” – Bart van der Zande

Definition of Startup Studio 

The startup studio is an organization that uses a repeatable process in order to establish new ventures from scratch. The biggest challenge and key in startup studios is finding a suitable co-founder and a team to fully trust to help build the organization. 

For Fresh Venture, it is about closing the gap between people who have long-term experience within the food system and those experienced in working business cases and commercialized solutions.

“The startup studio is starting from scratch and it’s coming from different angles. The focus is on building great teams and then relying on them to build good stuff and create ideas. Co-founder matching is a big part and some studios do a lot of it in-house. (…) Others also start with developing and validating ideas themselves because that’s probably what they’re good at. Then they attract a founder or a founding team and work towards a spin out or an exit.” – Bart van der Zande

Unlock While Moving Ahead

The general incline of the startup principles is the will to let go and keep an open mind continuously. There is always a risk in falling in love with your ID. It’s about finding a combination of being passionate, pushing forward and being able to test one’s assumptions. 

What’s fascinating about the startup studio is the ability to go beyond normal standards and create a broader ecosystem of multiple companies. 

“Unlocking while moving ahead. If, for example, you have a certain amount of money reserved for one organization, but then you hit a dead end, you learn early enough that you can reallocate that money as well. (…) I think we can learn a lot from regenerative approaches, farmers, and different industries. It’s also, as we said, a mindset of wanting to connect to soil. It’s about the way we build businesses and that’s something I personally grew in the past years as well, and changed my perspective.”  – Bart van der Zande

Build More Regenerative Companies

The studio model can pave the way for technology companies and even regenerative companies to be built. Fresh Ventures has built organizations towards steward ownership structures, in order to critically look at how they can be further organized. The organization itself needs to be able to adapt and stay impact-driven.

“Let’s start building regenerative companies. That’s it. It’s also the approach you take in on how the companies are actually built. What does an organization look like if we are trying to build a regenerative economy or really an economy within planetary boundaries? What does that mean for the way you structure the businesses? For the way you build the teams?” – Bart van der Zande

Other Important Points Discussed

Koen and Bart discussed these points in this episode

  • What Bart would do if he were in charge of a $1 Billion investment portfolio tomorrow morning
  • What Bart thinks smart investors should look out for
  • What Bart would do if he had a magic wand that could change one thing overnight in the agriculture and food space
  • How Bart thinks people should do if they want to get involved

To know more about Bart van der Zande and how we can build more regenerative companies in regenerative food and agriculture, download and listen to this episode. 

Bio:

Bart is the co-founder of Fresh Ventures Studio a startup studio on a mission to a regenerative & circular food system. He got into sustainability and eventually regeneration after he had co-owned and led the product development at a startup that build communities and digital platforms for entrepreneurial ecosystems. In that role he was always interested in the venture building processes and the ecosystems that helped entrepreneurs and teams thrive. But when the need to move to an economy & society within planetary boundaries and in balance with nature got heavily intrinsic for him, he embarked on a journey. A journey that eventually led him into the food system, to soil and towards regenerative approaches. Now he is working on ways to use the startup studio model to accelerate the emergence of truly mission driven teams that work, with a systems thinking approach, on building new steward owned ventures for a regenerative and circular food system.

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Interviews: 

Interview with Armin Steuernagel

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Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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