Crafting Nupo Ventures: Our journey from a corporate innovation team to a venture studio
Nupo Ventures is championing the future of sustainable ventures, driving not just financial returns but making tangible positive impacts on our environment and society. We have a proven venture building framework to conceptualize, build and scale new start-ups that create sustainability impact on a variety of topics – cutting across all ESG dimensions. We work with smart, passionate, and driven individuals who want to build and grow long lasting, impactful businesses. Once the founding teams are onboarded, we support them to grow and scale businesses through access to funding, partners, and recruitment.
The genesis of Nupo Ventures
The genesis of Nupo Ventures is Olam’s Engine 2.0 initiative. In 2019, as part of the 5-year plan, Olam wanted to identify the next generation of new businesses that would take the Group into its next phase of growth in 2025 and beyond. Olam, traditionally a B2B ag commodity grower and trader, embarked on a transformative journey. As part of Engine 2.0 a corporate innovation team was set up to look at diverse set of topics:
- From building a B2C snack brand
- To building a digital platform to make all commodity supply chains traceable.
- From building a digital platform to improve our carbon emissions reporting
- To establishing an industry consortium to standardize sustainability tracking the in Food & Ag
We explored these topics through a Corporate Venture building model, partnering with a variety of specialist venture building firms. Through the process we learnt best practices in creating a start-up. We also tested new hiring models – attracting talent from outside Olam, folks who are best suited to scale the new businesses we were trying to build.
Through these experiences we gained confidence in pursuing venture building as our core business and hence Nupo Ventures was set up.
Formulating our vision
When we set out on the journey to create Nupo Ventures we were very conscious to build on the rich legacy that Olam has of entrepreneurship in Food & Agriculture. In 34 years, Olam has grown from a small export organization in Nigeria to a global enterprise with a revenue of $34 billion.
The Food & Ag industry is at a crossroads – suffering from deteriorating yields and land conditions while having to ramp up production to support a growing global population. Most of the production challenges are coming from the conventional farming that has happened over the last few decades. So now, the need of the hour is to think about how we can feed the world’s growing population in a more sustainable way.
As we build Nupo Ventures into an independent venture studio, we want to leverage corporate partnerships like our partnership with Olam Agri and ofi, to identify unique problem sets that other folks are not solving (well) today. Through our understanding of the sector, aspects like supply chain and leveraging our corporate market access, we want to build new start-ups that can address sustainability challenges for the Food & Ag and adjacent sectors.