TechCrunch+ roundup: Green card sponsorships, startup prenups, agtech VC survey

In the early days of a startup, everyone is on the same page. But there’s no way to know how well a founding team will get along by the time a company reaches maturity.

Set aside the romantic notion that startup teams consist of visionary mavericks who are building the future in real time; they’re also human beings, with all of their flaws.

Nearly anything can tear a co-founder relationship asunder. I have observed partnerships go sour over funding disputes, product pipelines, and in one case, a bad experience at Burning Man.

Starry-eyed newlyweds routinely sign prenuptial agreements without losing their sense of idealism, and startup founders should do the same, advises Yonaton Aronoff, a partner at litigation and employment law firm Harris St. Laurent & Wechsler.

“Unfortunately, as too many co-founders and spouses come to realize, the best time to plan for negative outcomes is at the beginning of the relationship,” he writes.

“Waiting until conflict develops can be devastating, and too often leads to intractable litigation with no clear winner.”

Working with an attorney to create “strong and clear governing documents” early in your relationship goes a long way toward building trust on the founding team by creating general plans for how to handle events like future fundraising or M&A transactions.

One key takeaway: A 50/50 partnership sounds great, but if two people can’t come to an agreement, it could “lead to catastrophic results down the line,” Aronoff says. Flipping a coin is “not ideal,” so consider designating a trusted third party as a tie-breaker should the need arise.

Few founders have experience working collaboratively over an extended period of time. Assuming that the average exit will take a little over seven years, it’s crucial to set clear expectations early in the game.

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

Pitch Deck Teardown: Vori’s $10M Series A deck

B2B wholesale app Vori announced a $10 million Series A in August that will help expand its inventory management service for independent grocery stores.

“How do you make an interface that’s as fun to use as Candy Crush?” asks CEO Brandon Hill in a video that accompanies the 13-slide deck the company shared with TC+:

  • Cover slide
  • Mission statement slide
  • Vori-at-a-glance — (KPI slide, lightly redacted)
  • “We understand grocery” — interstitial slide
  • “Our market: Independent Grocery Chains” — market slide
  • “Grocery stores still run on pencil and paper” — problem slide
  • “How these stores operate today” — problem slide
  • “Suddenly, COVID changed everything in grocery” — “Why now” slide
  • “Meet Vori, the all-in-one grocery back office” — solution slide
  • “What retailers are saying” — market validation slide
  • “The largest undigitized retail segment on earth” — market size/TAM/SAM/SOM slide
  • “Competing against legacy systems” — competition slide (redacted)
  • “Our team was born for this” — team slide

7 investors discuss how agtech can solve agriculture’s biggest problems

Crop sprayer in field aerial view; agtech

Image Credits: The Creative Drone (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Of all global industries, perhaps none is more susceptible to the dangers of climate change than agriculture.

There’s a consensus among reputable scientists that the amount of CO2 we’re putting in the atmosphere is aggravating already extreme weather events. How is that impacting the way agtech VCs operate during a downturn?

To learn more, we surveyed:

  • Brett Brohl, managing director, Techstars Farm to Fork, and managing partner, Bread and Butter Ventures
  • Monica Varman, partner, G2 Venture Partners
  • Jinesh Shah, managing partner, Omnivore
  • Adam Anders, managing partner, Anterra Capital
  • Ting-Ting Liu, investor, and Ashutosh Sharma, India head, Prosus Ventures
  • Camila Petignat, partner, The Yield Lab

Dear Sophie: Any tips for negotiating visa and green card sponsorship?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I’m currently on an F-1 student visa. I’ll receive my bachelor’s degree in computer science in December and will apply for OPT. I’d like to stay and work in the U.S.

Do you have any tips for negotiating visa and green card sponsorship? Anything else I should remember as I start contacting prospective employers?

— Shy Student

The changing cloud landscape: From observability to optimization

Girl Painting The Wall From Cloudy To Clear Blue Sky; cloud optimization

Image Credits: Carlo Prearo / EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In a deeply researched market map, early-stage investor Chelsea Goddard shared her thesis on the future of cloud computing, which takes into account how “increased demand for optimization” is changing the industry.

“Once we are past this wave of cloud and edge initiatives, infrastructure investment will shift toward the next set of strategic enterprise priorities, automation and optimization,” predicts Goddard.

The US venture capital slowdown doesn’t look that bad

According to PitchBook, preliminary VC deal data in Q3 appears to be lower than previous quarters this year:

  • Q1: $80.0 billion/4,740 deals
  • Q2: $71.9 billion/4,055 deals
  • Q3 $43.0 billion/3,076 deals

Despite the apparent decline, “2022 is on pace to trounce any year’s venture totals that we have data for apart from 2021,” writes Alex Wilhelm in The Exchange.