Masayoshi Son is a familiar figure in India, with billions of dollars invested in Flipkart, Ola, and Oyo. Now his younger brother Taizo is on his first visit to India, but this Japanese investor has set his sights far away from ecommerce and transportation. He wants to invest in food and agritech startups.
Today in Bangalore, he announced the setting up of a new entity called Gastrotope in partnership with GSF accelerator. It will incubate and invest in startups innovating at both ends of the food cycle: technologies to upgrade farming as well as more efficient and less wasteful consumption of food.
Taizo Son invests in startups from his personal wealth and does not face some constraints of VCs.
In a chat with Tech in Asia, Taizo Son said the typical time-bound venture capital or accelerator model is ill-suited for tackling some of the world’s big issues. He feels more intelligent farming, as well as distribution and consumption of food, with the use of new tech like AI, IoT, and robotics can be transformative.
The Japanese serial entrepreneur and investor, who recently shifted his base to Singapore, wants to approach innovation in this area in a more holistic and long-term way than VC-funded startups are able to do in their drive to scale up fast. Taizo Son invests in startups from his personal wealth and does not face some of those constraints.
“The KPIs (key performance indicators) of startups in the Gastrotope program will be related to the strength of their products and the value they bring,” he told Tech in Asia. The incubation program will typically be a year long, and international startups will also be invited.
It won’t be just about funding either. Taizo Son wants to “connect diverse dots” to improve the chances of innovations taking root in this field. For example, he aims to bring together India’s large, traditional base in agriculture and the research base in more developed agritech ecosystems like Japan, China, and the US. Going forward, he may set up an agritech research institute in India. He’s thinking big and long-term.
Rajesh Sawhney, CEO and founder of GSF India, which is partnering Taizo Son’s Mistletoe in this venture, added that linkages with government will also be crucial in this sector. They are already in talks with various state governments to move forward on how Gastrotope can take innovations from the lab to the field.
Never miss a story.
Sign up for an account and get the latest & best stories in your inbox, every day.Sign me up!