TO VC supports vital teams that are solving the world’s most urgent problems. We invest in companies developing agriculture, food, and carbon technologies because we believe these are the most powerful areas of innovation to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and restore the balance between human and planetary health. We are confident that the biggest companies of tomorrow will be climate companies, and the most attractive companies today are those whose mission it is to solve climate change.

Check out our previous work here.


 

Joshua Phitoussi

Managing Partner

 

Joshua’s mission is to find breakthrough solutions to environmental and human health problems.

 

Background

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His driving belief is that food systems innovation is the strongest lever we can pull to reach net zero by 2050 while simultaneously regenerating planetary and human health. Prior to founding TO VC, Joshua had a career in agribusiness where his experience gave him insight into the severity of natural habitat destruction and nutrition issues stemming from conventional agriculture and food processing. From 2013 to 2017, he held positions at Archer Daniels Midland that included freight trading, grain origination and marketing, and wheat trading in the United States, South America, South Africa, and Switzerland. In 2017, he became a managing partner at Alliance Commodities, a leading rice trading firm specializing in West African trade flows with South America and Asia. Since 2017, he has worked with to.org and Groupe Mimran in building an investment and philanthropic program to deploy resources in regenerative agriculture, improved food production, and natural habitat restoration. Joshua holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Entrepreneurship from Babson College.

Arieh Mimran

Managing Partner

 

Arieh dedicates himself to using finance as a force for good.

 

Background

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He believes that capitalism can be creatively directed to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Prior to founding TO VC, Arieh served as Chief Investment Officer of to.org, which he co-founded in 2015. Arieh directed investment strategy and worked closely with portfolio companies across climate technology, Africa, and generalist portfolios.

Arieh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Princeton University, where he conducted novel sociological studies on finance, elites, and inequality. He has advised foundations, family businesses, and family offices, designing governance systems that facilitate stakeholder alignment. He co-founded the University of Zurich’s Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth in 2018, and is a course Design Team member at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Arieh built the Groupe Mimran family office and investment program. As Chief Investment Officer, he directs investment strategy and oversees allocations across the global portfolio of operating companies and diversified endowment portfolios. He has held various leadership positions and served on the Board of Directors of numerous Groupe Mimran entities.

Howard-Yana Shapiro, Ph.D.

Venture Partner

 

Howard has been involved with sustainable agricultural and agroforestry systems, plant breeding, molecular biology and genomics for over 50 years.

 

Background

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In his career, Howard has been involved with and advised indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and private institutions worldwide, including serving as an advisor and policy maker to several national and regional agricultural, biotech, and agroforestry institutions. He has delivered over 100 keynote speeches, lectured at 45 universities, and advised across the spectrum on policy, practice and scaling. He currently serves as Science Advisor to a number of food and ag tech companies.

Howard’s academic career spans 45 years. Currently a Senior Fellow at UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, he served for 20 years as the Chief Agricultural Officer at Mars, Inc. He was lead author in the IAASTD chapter on Biotechnology and Biodiversity, a member of the National Research Council Committee on Citrus Greening, Chairperson of the Board of the Agriculture Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for 10 years, and was the recipient of The Award of Distinction from The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis. He served as Co- Chairperson for the 1st and 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry, co-authored the Mid- Term Review of the CGIAR, was named to the UC Davis Grand Challenges Working Group, and is the recipient of the University of California Lifetime Achievement in Innovation Award.

Charles Goodwin

Operating Partner & COO

 

Charles is passionate about building businesses with impact and helping companies navigate the startup journey.

 

Background

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Prior to TO VC, Charles managed the Enterprise Technology portfolio at Point72 Ventures and is currently an Advisor to Global Predictions and BlockApps as well as a member of the Board of Melior Innovations. Charles loves working with entrepreneurs who are driven to change the world they know. Charles brings significant experience building and managing investment firms from new funds to the world’s largest hedge fund.

Charles was COO both at a division of Bridgewater Associates and at Point72 Ventures, with responsibility for business strategy, investment reviews, building new business lines, and recruiting and developing investment talent. He understands the process rigor required to operate a world class investment business and implement best practice decision-making.

Tom Baruch

Venture Partner

 

Tom Baruch currently invests in early stage companies focused on resource scarce and climate sensitive markets out of his family office, Baruch Future Ventures (BFV).

 

Background

| LinkedIn

Tom founded Formation 8 in 2011, a venture capital fund with $950 million under management, and currently serves as an Emeritus Partner. Tom earlier formed CMEA Capital in 1988 with New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and 3M Corp, and was responsible for managing a total of $1.2 billion of capital across seven funds at CMEA where he personally led investments resulting in 18 IPO’s.

Tom was a founding member of Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where he advised the U.S. Department of Commerce and the White House. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the U.S. Council of Competitiveness, and a member of the Steering Committee of its Energy, Security, Innovation and Sustainability Initiative and the U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative.

Get in touch: [email protected]


TO VC Vision Statement

 

Our Planet Is Suffering 

The signs are everywhere, growing in frequency and intensity – raging wildfires, catastrophic floods, rapid desertification, oceans that are rising and becoming inhospitably acidic. The biodiversity upon which everything depends is disappearing. Tens of millions worldwide are being displaced as a result of climate change and, despite the abundance experienced by most of us, more than 800 million people are in the dark and on the brink of starvation. The planet, and her people, deserve a better way. 

We Must Act Now 

Planet Earth may have warmed by just 1 degree Celsius in the last century, but a change of just a few degrees is a big deal. The last time atmospheric CO2 was at 415 parts per million, which is where we are today, there were trees growing in Antarctica. The ocean was 25 meters higher. There were no humans inhabiting the Earth. The planet is now on track to warm by at least 3°C by the end of the century; 99.99% of species on Earth right now, ourselves included, are not ready to live on such a warm planet. 

To keep the planet from warming more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial times – the tipping point beyond which natural systems will enter destructive and irreversible feedback loops – we can emit no more than 400 billion metric tons of CO2e in total. That is our carbon budget. Currently, we emit 59 billion metric tons of CO2e every year, at which pace it will take less than a decade before our worst-case scenario becomes our reality. Business as usual is not an option. We must halve our emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, if we are to have any chance of preserving life on Earth as we know it. In order to achieve this, we must completely decarbonize our economy, in addition to removing the more than 1.5 trillion metric tons of CO2e we’ve pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. We face a gargantuan challenge. 

Who We Are 

At TO Capital we focus our capital and attention on healing the world, on Tikkun Olam. This is our life’s mission. Our work is dedicated to driving a fundamental change in the most basic aspects of our lives: how we interact with the world through the food we eat, the energy we use, and the products we consume. Our approach to accomplish this is to partner with brilliant minds developing agriculture, food, carbon removal and clean energy technologies – collectively, ‘climate tech’ – because we believe these areas of innovation are the most powerful levers that we can pull to cut emissions and draw down atmospheric CO2 while restoring the balance between human and planetary health. The monumental scale of the problem, coupled with the urgent need for solutions, will provide investors in climate tech with an investment opportunity of between $100 trillion and $150 trillion over the next 30 years. Indeed, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate concluded that the financing of the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable growth path could deliver a direct economic windfall of $26 trillion and create over 65 million new jobs by 2030. The key to understanding this opportunity lies in recognizing that climate tech is not a standalone segment but a continuous reinvention of modern life, one which reconstructs entire industries to avoid a future of alarming climate scenarios coming true. We focus on the segments of opportunity that need the most urgent attention and where we believe we can drive exceptional returns for our partners. 

Agriculture is one of them. Over the last century, industrial agriculture has turned wild and diverse landscapes into uniform crop monocultures, a factory-like system characterized by standardization and efficiency. Borlaug and Swaminathan’s Green Revolution of the 1960s may have tripled agricultural production and saved countless lives from starvation, but it was never intended as a static solution. And yet, since the groundbreaking advances of the Green Revolution, we have failed to make the next quantum leap in food production, instead taking a myopic approach which produces only incremental gains. The ever-increasing use of carbon-intensive synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals, in addition to excessive tilling, have so critically disrupted the Earth’s fertility that our topsoil is quickly running out of harvests. In order to feed 10 billion people we need to bring an additional 2.1 billion acres under cultivation – an area the size of Brazil, but that amount of arable land does not exist and we cannot afford to cut down another tree. 

We need to make the jump to a higher, steeper curve on the graph of production. To do this, we are engaging in a total reorganization of our food system, accelerated by the convergence of biotech, big data, robotics, and the blockchain. Thanks to advances in genomics and tools like CRISPR, we are editing crops to become more nutritious, water- and nutrient-use efficient, pest and disease resistant, high-yielding, drought-resistant and climatically adapted. The advent of edge computing, AI, and IoT allow us to gather real-time datasets from the field to make ever more precise decisions about which improved crops to plant and where, optimizing for resource allocation and biodiversity protection. Robots are being deployed to plant, care for, and harvest crops, allowing us to move workers away from back-breaking work in the field to higher value employment. Smart contracts are replacing paper-based contracts, governing transactions between farmers and stakeholders and allowing for a fully transparent and traceable supply chain that gives consumers precise information regarding the provenance of the food they eat. We are finally digitizing agriculture, changing it from a reactive trial-and-error system to a prescriptive, precise, regenerative practice. 

To reach our goal, we are restoring all of Earth’s carbon sinks to function as nature designed them. Forests, grasslands, and soil are massive carbon sinks that have kept the carbon and nitrogen cycles in equilibrium for millennia. As our greatest ally against climate change, we are supporting nature in doing what she does best. Above every single acre of land is 34,000 metric tons of atmospheric nitrogen, a plentiful resource which we just need to get into the ground. By replacing synthetic fertilizer with nature’s biological tools, such as mycorrhizae fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, we are naturally locking carbon deep into the ground while replenishing the fertility of our soils to grow nutrient-rich crops. Increasing soil carbon levels by just 0.4% every year could sequester over 10% of annual emissions; we are scaling carbon offset markets to make sure that farmers, on the frontline against global warming, are incentivized to do exactly that. 

Beyond production, we have to make sure the food we eat is good both for us and for the planet. In the US, expenditures on diet-related illness adds up to the same amount spent on food itself: $1.1 trillion in 2019. It’s a tidy connection: Big Ag creates Big Pharma, but we don’t believe that the food we eat should come with the consequence of making us dependent on medication. Food should be the medicine. We have to make better decisions about what we eat, and this is particularly the case with regard to protein. In addition to being the largest source of methane emissions, beef is the biggest driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss: 5 million acres of forest and grasslands are converted to pastures for cattle every year. As we penetrate deeper into wild ecosystems, we expose ourselves to previously unencountered wildlife zoonotic and vector-borne infectious diseases, a type of global risk that has become all too familiar in a decade when Ebola, Zika, Dengue, and COVID-19 have become part of our common global lexicon. 

At TO, we believe that simple changes in our mental models can profoundly influence how we understand the world. The convergence of DNA synthesis, computational protein design, and precision fermentation is allowing us to look at protein in exciting new ways. Meat does not need to come from an animal but can be decoupled from its source, with plants, mycelia, and bacteria being used to recreate meat in ways that provide consumers with more sustainable versions of the foods they love. Instead of raising an animal for the sole purpose of breaking it apart, we now take a single cell from which we build meat from its component parts – lipids, proteins, and water. Rather than domesticating animals, we are domesticating microbes to brew proteins and other ingredients that are designed for our exact physiology, creating foods that are individually tailored to the lifestyle of the individual. No more food that is destructive to the planet and people. 

Finally, we have to radically change the ways in which we power our world as well as the ways in which we manufacture everything we consume. Together, power and industry produce more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions. We use fossil fuels in the production of everything, from the clothes we wear to the heat that keeps our homes warm. The consequences of this dependency are horrifying: petroleum-based plastics in our oceans kill over 1 million marine animals every year, and the fine particulate matter from emissions circulating in our air are responsible for the deaths of over four million people every year. As fossil fuel dependency in the rest of the world catches up with the richest 20%, global energy demand, as well as emissions linked to its production, will see a 50% increase by 2050. We need to break our fossil fuel dependency and empower fossil-free growth in developing nations. 

To ensure this, we are embracing the era of biology. The central role played by chemistry and physics in the 20th century has been supplanted in the 21st century by biology, and the wealth of production opportunities it provides. At 3 billion years old, biology can be seen as the oldest research and development and manufacturing lab on the planet, and today it allows us to completely rethink the linear production models of the last 200-plus years. Indeed, synthetic biology allows us to start at the end, imagining the final product and leveraging the biological pathways of microorganisms, perfected by evolution, to turn our choice of input into our desired end product. A true circular economy is eminently possible, where everything has its use and nothing is wasted. And, just as we are decoupling protein from the animal, we are doing the same for carbon and its fossil source. The consumables of the future will be built not on the fossils of the past but from the air that we breathe today. The CO2 that we desperately need to remove from the atmosphere will be converted into fuel, chemicals, materials, and everyday products. Rather than CO2 continuing to be considered as a cost of doing business, its capture and utilization will become the business. 

Finally, we are completely decarbonizing the grid with renewable energy. By focusing on breakthroughs in energy storage and distribution, we are solving renewable energy’s issues of intermittency and energy density. Electricity will become too cheap to meter, allowing us to electrify almost everything. With a decarbonized grid distributing clean energy, everything it powers will be carbon-free as well. To bring electricity to 10 billion people, we will increase energy production by at least 3x and turn fossil fuel pipelines into electricity transmission lines, retrofitting our grid from a centralized, unidirectional model dependent on fossil fuels, to a distributed, bi-directional highway powered by renewables, which accepts excess electrons produced everywhere, from cars and home appliances to residential rooftops, redeploying them where needed. 

Our Vision of the Future 

To achieve all of this, a total reinvention of incentives is necessary. Industrial farmers are not bad actors who want to hurt the planet, they simply do what is most economical to provide for their families; smallholder farmers in the developing world do what they can to survive. Consumers eat what is affordable, accessible, and enjoyable, and they power their lives with the cheapest and most reliable form of energy available to them. To win the climate fight, we must ensure that the easiest option is also the best choice. This means totally changing the game, scaling breakthrough solutions to the point where the most obvious choice for the consumer leaves everyone, and the planet, better off. Food, agriculture, energy, and industry are sectors that touch every single one of us, every day. Reconfiguring these industries to work for both people and the planet is fundamental to solving the climate crisis. The good news is, we can do it. Every day we see breakthroughs that have the potential to play a vital role in healing the world; there is no shortage of ideas coming from bold scientists and entrepreneurs eager to save our planet. We need to finance, scale, and adopt these as fast as possible. There is no time to waste

At TO Capital, we firmly believe that the march towards a market-driven, zero-carbon economy is turning the greatest mistakes of the 20th century into the greatest opportunities of the 21st century. The convergence of technology, science, engineering, creative activism, and government policy will create the largest markets of tomorrow. The most valuable companies ever built will be climate companies. The leaders of tomorrow will be climate warriors. And we will devote all our resources to empower them on their mission, because nothing else matters. We hope you’ll join us.