Leave it to two Silicon Valley vets to somehow snag billions of dollars and throw them at sustainable solutions, particularly for farming. George Coelho and Eric Archambeau, the SV vets turned VC firm founders (they own Astanor Ventures based in Brussels) just closed on their $325 million fund that’s specifically for ocean, agriculture and food tech in European and North American startups.

This year’s been a record breaker for Agritech startups as far as funding is concerned. If we look at funding 10 years ago, it was only $244.2 million. In 2016, it was up to $1.3 billion. 2019? $2.5 billion. And this year, 2020, agritech has seen a whopping $4.4 billion in investment.

The fund, which is the world’s biggest fund focused on agritech, is three years old and has invested in 20 agriculture and food production startups in the US and Europe. Examples include a food waste platform in California, an insect farmer in France (don’t worry, they only farm the “good kind”), and a French farm-to-table trading marketplace.

Agritech is having its moment, and COVID-19 helped it out. Health and wellness has already been trending, but this year, who doesn’t want to eat healthier?

Keep That Reputation Golden

If there’s one thing you can’t risk losing as a small business owner, it’s your reputation, something that’s been hard for many small businesses to keep a hold of amongst all the changes this year. We’ve seen a few data breachers and hackers hit startups too, leaving them to seem unsafe in customer’s eyes. Sometimes it’s the CEO that brings a hot mess to the company’s rep (remember Papa John’s?). If you don’t think it’s that important, 63% of your reputation makes up your company’s market value.

Let that soak in.

Regardless of what could happen (or has happened) to your company, make sure you focus on maintaining the trust with your current customers or clients, prospects, audience and the general market. If you are seen in any way, shape or form as dishonest, the ripple effect is catastrophic. 81% of buyers make their purchasing decision based on their view of a brand’s decision to “do what’s right’”

Plus, these days we’re seeing more and more consumers care about how employees are treated, sustainability, environmental policies, political affiliations and much more. Better have all your ducks in a row!

Always, always, always pay attention to what your customers are saying about you. Google your company regularly and search social media. Online reviews can be killer as well.

Know that you aren’t ever going to be perfect, so have a strong PR plan in place to mitigate any reputation crises that could arrive. Do you know who’s going to respond and how when an issue happens?

While things are dying down in Q4 and the holidays, take the time to map out your reputation management plan if you don’t already have one. Have statements prepared, know your values and stay honest no matter what. You shouldn’t have to worry about issues arising if you’re already prepared for them!

We’re All Equals

Or at least that’s the battle we’ve been at for years. Thankfully, the whole remote or flexible working thing is evening the keel between the gender gap in the financial industry. Clearly, higher ups can see now what roles are done just as good, if not better, when working from home. This is a bonus for female employees in the financial industry who typically need more flexibility (kids, being the primary caregiver, etc.) in their careers.

The pandemic has increasingly damaged job opportunities for women versus men, so showing this wide acceptance is a positive.

About 93% of women and 94% of men in the financial industry say working flexibly has no effect on their jobs even though 75% of former female employees say it couldn’t have been done. Uh, weird? How long ago was that survey…

This benefits financial industry companies, too, because originally a lot of women were really likely to quit their jobs due to school shutdowns, at-home schooling or a never-ending lack of childcare. Honestly, unless you’re in a highly hands-on vertical, it doesn’t make sense why some companies are holding onto the archaic notion that WFH or flex working isn’t an option.

Give us your take on this. Are there certain careers (again, ones that aren’t hands-on) that wouldn’t sustain flexible working environments long term? School us, we’d love to know.

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