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Serra Ventures Announces World Class Advisory Team for New Ag Tech Fund

Champaign, IL – WEBWIRE

Serra Ventures, LLC has attracted a world class venture advisory group to assist the Managing Partners with its newest fund offering, the Serra Capital Ag Tech Fund. The Serra Ventures team has been deeply involved in the Ag Tech category for over a decade, making its first investments in the space in 2010. The steady increase in quantity and quality of Ag Tech deals in the evaluation pipeline, along with some notable exits of its portfolio companies in the space, convinced the team to create a standalone fund the singular focus of which is agriculture and agri-food technology. To provide deep technical and business expertise, Serra is adding venture advisors Brad Sheafe, Robert “Bob” Easter, Rod Brenneman, Paul Miller and Dave Hoogmoed. 
Brad Sheafe brings over a decade of experience with intellectual property, ranging from criminal investigations to patent assertion, prosecution and investment. He is currently the Chief Intellectual Property Officer of Dominion Harbor, an IP advisory firm. Additionally, Brad has real-world operational experience having served in executive roles, including being the president of both public and private software companies generating IP of their own. Brad is a named inventor on several utility and design patents. Brad has successfully navigated the dynamic patent landscape managing the pre- and post-grant prosecution for portfolios earning over $200M in revenues. 
Paul Miller, Ph.D., is a renowned expert in massive scale geospatial analysis and big data. He is responsible for building the first 4D nutrient model in soils for use at the plot and national scales. Paul was the Co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Agrible, sold to Nutrien in 2018.  Following the successful exit event, Paul continued in a key strategic role with Nutrien until the founding of his new tech startup, Flats & Spikes in 2020. He has a Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from Purdue University. 
Chris Harbourt, Ph.D., is a world-class scientist and Ag engineer with an eye on innovation and growth, spanning nearly 30 years. He is currently the Global Head of Carbon for Indigo Ag. He was the Co-founder and CEO of Agrible, sold to Nutrien in 2018. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and his Master’s and Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 
Dave Hoogmoed has over forty years of experience in Ag Business, within the animal nutrition, animal production and grain sectors. He started his career at Ralston Purina and held a variety of sales, general management, operations and executive level positions within the company.  Most recently, Dave spent 12 years as President of Purina Animal Nutrition, and Executive Vice President of parent company Land O’ Lakes, Inc. The business consisted of both livestock and companion animal components, premix and additives, marketing through multiple channels. His responsibilities have included various international business components in the Philippines, China and Kenya. He enjoyed long term leadership of Innovation/R & D and Technical Implementation divisions, along with other functional responsibilities. 
A broadly-engaged agriculturalist, Robert Bob” Easter, Ph.D., earned his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in agricultural education and animal nutrition, respectively, at Texas A&M and a Ph.D. in Animal Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  He then joined the UIUC faculty in Animal Sciences where he taught courses in animal nutrition and pork production, trained graduate students and became a prominent consultant to the feed industry domestically and internationally gaining experience in most of the world’s major agricultural regions.  In addition to his faculty role, he served as Head of the Department of Animal Sciences, Dean of the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Science, Interim Chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus and President of the University system.  
Rod Brenneman has spent 25 years in senior leadership positions in protein and consumer products companies including 14 years as president and chief executive officer of two different companies. Most recently, Rod served as President & CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Butterball, LLC where he was tasked with turning around and leading the world’s largest turkey producer and processor. Prior to his tenure at Butterball, he spent more than 22 years with Seaboard Corporation, where he served the company in various leadership capacities. Through his senior leadership positions at Seaboard, including serving as President & CEO of Seaboard Foods for over 11 years, Rod helped build the company from its infancy to a $1.7 billion pork production and processing company.
“We are so honored that we have such a distinguished group of Ag Tech experts assisting us on deploying capital from this fund,” said Dennis Beard, Managing Partner of Serra. “Their collective expertise will undoubtedly add tremendous value to the Serra team and the investment process. Better decision making will lead to better investment performance for our Limited Partners.”   
Along with assembling this top-notch team of Ag Tech experts, the Serra Capital Ag Tech Fund completed its initial investor closing at the end of January. Several institutional investors including Busey Bank, Agri-Fab, Brandt and Techra Investments, were joined by current Serra Limited Partners and new individual investors, for an initial closing on the $50M target-size fund. 
“I’m convinced that the interest in our initial closing was based on the compelling opportunity of the Ag Tech Fund as well as the recent strong performance of several Serra portfolio companies,” said Tim Hoerr, Managing Partner and CEO of Serra. “We are experiencing unprecedented valuation markups in our current portfolios, and this is creating tremendous interest in Serra’s newest Fund offering.”
The Serra team is encouraged by the successful first closing and plans to continue raising capital throughout 2021. The team believes that the next five to seven years in Agriculture will bear witness to perhaps the most significant revolution in the application of technology to the industry’s most serious challenges. The time to invest in Ag Tech and Agri-food Tech is now.

About Serra Ventures:

Serra Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in early stage technology companies in underserved geographies in the Midwest, West Coast and selected other regions. Sectors of focus include information technology, devices/instrumentation and agricultural technologies. The profile of an ideal startup is one that has just finished an accelerator program or has been through a round of seed funding to establish and prove a strong product-market fit. 

Serra Ventures has offices in San Diego, Chicago and Champaign, Illinois. The managing partners are former successful entrepreneurs who seek to serve their portfolio companies with real-world insight, hard work and a valuable network. In addition to capital, Serra works alongside its entrepreneurs in all areas of growth from strategic planning and partnerships, through business development and capital formation. As portfolio companies scale, Serra co-invests with leading venture firms. For more information, visit


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