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What we learned about US funding and international growth

 
 
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Francisco Norris, CEO and co-founder of ZELP (Zero Emission Livestock Project), on what he learned from the Eagle Labs Global Connect mission to California.

  • Experience of executing a raise in Silicon Valley
  • What to consider before expanding globally
  • Why pitching as often as possible is important

ZELP, founded in 2017 is a methane-reduction device and certification system that aims to reduce the environmental impact of methane emissions caused by the livestock industry.

Here Norris shares his experience of travelling to Silicon Valley with the Eagle Labs Global Connect programme – and what he learned from the American VCs he met.

How did ZELP come about?

I come from Argentina, from a family of farmers that currently run a beef operation in Buenos Aires. My background is in design technologies. Before co-founding ZELP in 2017, I was working with a number of design studios in London developing technology for brands like Google and Panasonic.
 

What was your experience of the AgriTech trade mission?

My experience was really positive. I met a number of relevant investors and key AgriTech stakeholders who shared valuable insights about raising capital in the US and expanding into the territory. It was a very insightful trip that increased our understanding of the American VC ecosystem.
 

What were you key learnings about funding in the US?

It was great to hear the learnings from founders and investors alike. We gathered key insights on how Silicon Valley VCs operate, how to plan and execute a raise in the region, and general best practices - which were all of key importance given that Silicon Valley is a very competitive landscape.
 

What led you to take your product global?

I remember very clearly a discussion we had in one of the sessions on how companies should be located as close to their clients as possible. This meant that while relocating to The Valley was not a must for most companies out there, having part of your team in the region where you are expanding is of great importance.

What's happened since the mission?

We continued developing our technology, increasing our methane reduction efficiency to amongst the highest in the market to date. We also grew our engineering team and raised a bridge round of $1.2m that will cover our runway through to Series A, which we project will take place in Q2 2021.
 

What's ZELP’s current position on global markets and investment?

Since creating the company, we have a raised total funding equivalent to $2.5m. We are currently performing on-animal trials as we finalise the development of our technology. We have a number of commercial pilots lined up for Q4 2020 and early 2021.
 

What's your advice for other founders looking for global investment?

Product-market fit and early signs of traction were two of the strongest metrics discussed in the mission. On a personal note, I’d say pitch as much as you can.

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