A thriving family business turns global innovator

Agribiotics was at an inflection point when they partnered with Avrio in 2003. The Ontario-based crop bioscience company could either continue as a successful family business or could make aggressive moves to become a global player in microbial technologies. They were on track to pursue big innovation, but it would mean bringing in outside capital.

Avrio came alongside with a shared vision for the company: to continue to execute the core business while investing in research and development, and creating new technology for an existing customer base. To that end, Avrio played an active role in developing a board that could guide this strategic direction. Avrio also supported in acquiring new technology that would give Agribiotics that next-level push they were ready for. Finally, when the company was ready to sell, Avrio was involved in selecting the right banker and advising on the often-emotional process of selling a family business.

The result was a significant deal that continues to fuel innovation in new ventures for the entrepreneurial Agribiotics founders.

“You genuinely felt Avrio was interested in the company and in making it succeed. They were hands on but not intrusive.”

“Avrio was one of the few parties that were invested in the agricultural space at the time – they understood the special risks that accompany a business like ours: the seasonality of agriculture and the cashflow restraints that come with a seasonal business.

“Their investment wasn’t just financial – they could discern marketing strategies and decision-making. When they joined us we had just won Young Entrepreneur of the Year, we were growing fast. They helped us finance a key deal and continue to invest in R and D. We were able to expand the patent portfolio we had, which led to the acquisition. By the time we made our exit, we had made the list of Profit Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies. We were competing with other sectors in terms of growth strategy.” —Hannah McIver, Agribiotics president and co-founder

“Nobody wants an investor that is just looking to flip you as a company. They were committed to building the business, the team and the operational foundation that allowed us to exit – but an exit wasn’t what we were initially seeking and we didn’t feel pressured to do so.”

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