The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order by company): Reese Schroeder, Tyson Ventures
Reese Schroeder is no stranger to GCV’s nominations. In fact, he stands as what one may call a cornerstone of the CVC industry, with 15 years’ experience in it.
As managing director for Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, a position to which he was appointed in 2004 and which he held for over 13 years, Schroeder was nominated to GCV’s Powerlist for five consecutive years between 2012 and 2017.
In 2016, all his nominations culminated in a Lifetime Achievement Award attributed by GCV on the basis of “his outstanding, enduring success at the helm of Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, but also in recognition of his invaluable support of the wider venturing ecosystem.”
Last year though, and after almost 28 years spent within the Motorola corporation, Schroeder made a significant move into a new venture, becoming managing director at Tyson Foods’ freshly formed corporate venture capital unit, Tyson Ventures, where he was put forward by his peers as a GCV Rising Star again.
Schroeder, for his part, identified two driving reasons for joining Tyson: first, the chance to be part of an entirely new project, and, second, that of being able to discover a whole new sector of activity.
He said: “I was very happy in my role at Motorola, and I think they were still very happy with me. But the Tyson opportunity came along, and it was an honour for me to be part of the founding team of a corporate venture group. It was also an occasion to enter a totally different world, moving on from 20 years in the communications industry to foodtech, which I found very intriguing.”
Established in 2016 by Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest meat providers, Tyson Ventures was launched with an initial investment capacity of $150m aimed to support “companies developing breakthrough technologies, business models and products to sustainably feed a growing world population,” the corporation announced at the time.
More specifically, the firm identified two key investment areas: sustainability, and “the internet of food” – referring to technologies using big data, drones, robotics and consumer information to enhance performance throughout the food chain.
In October 2016, Tyson Ventures made its very first investment, acquiring a 5% stake in vegan food producer Beyond Meat, which had reportedly received $17m in funding from other investors including General Mills the previous year.
At the time of writing, several others investments were in the pipeline, with at least three expected to close by the end of 2017, according to Schroeder.
Assessing his experience at Tyson Ventures so far, he said: “It has been a great learning process, and I now know 10 times more about food and foodtech than I did prior to joining.
“So there’s been a lot to take in, but I also have not felt totally uprooted. Certain things have felt familiar in the sense that a lot of VCs and CVCs I was used to dealing with are still the same, but simply investing in another sector.
“A lot of parallels can also be drawn between foodtech and tech at large, with similar technologies being used for different applications.”
One of the biggest challenges Schroeder has had to face since joining was also to grasp who the key players and key stakeholders were within Tyson Foods and the departure of Mary Kay James, who had brought him into the unit before leaving last year. “And learning all the right people is so important to the CVC world,” Schroeder added.
In the near future, he and his team will look to continue getting the new venture arm up and running, with around 300 companies currently in the pipeline for screening.
Outside the world of CVC, the MD mostly describes himself as a family man and an animal lover, with two puppies at home and a collection of fish tanks.
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