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Venture Vision: Insights from Bill Liao on Impact Investment and Emerging Trends

Updated: Feb 28

We sat down with Bill Liao, SOSV Managing Partner and esteemed keynote speaker at Tomorrow Matters and the Global Agritech Investment Assembly, to discuss vital industry points - from his seasoned perspective. With over a decade at SOSV, Bill's pioneering work in venture capital has reshaped the technology landscape, managing over $1 billion in assets and nurturing ground-breaking startups. Beyond his professional achievements, Bill's commitment to social impact through Founders Pledge underscores his vision for a better world. In this interview, Bill shares insights on trends in investment, the intersection of cleantech and agritech, and invaluable advice for navigating the startup space.



Can you share a bit about your background and journey that led you to become an investor? What inspired you to focus on impact investment?

'Having co-founded and taken public a couple of unicorns, I found myself interested in supporting the next generation of startups - and meeting Seán O’Sullivan, the founder of SOSV, further inspired me. 

I would say that I am not specifically an impact investor, more that my purpose is; “A world that works for all life while civilisation thrives.” So I am always looking to that North Star in my investment decisions whether they are for profit or not for profit.'


What current trends or developments in investment do you find most exciting or promising?

'The mega trend of investing at earlier stages in deep tech as those technologies democratises, is becoming more and more exciting to see totally game-changing technologies revolutionising even traditional industries like concrete manufacturing.'


Are there specific areas within cleantech and agri-food tech that you believe present particularly attractive opportunities for investors over the coming year?

'Break out technologies in precision fermentation, like Prolific Machines, are going to finally deliver on the promise of cellular agriculture to change both the monetary and resource costs of making food and medicine.'


How do you see the intersection of cleantech and agritech in addressing global social and environmental challenges?

'They are deeply interlinked as you simply cannot have positive and sustainable technical change without social adaptation. The revolution in bio fertilizers, for instance, is going to put amazingly advanced technology in the hands of the farmers at the very edge of the supply chain and turbo charge their productivity in a fully healthy and sustainable way.'


How do you approach risk management in the start-up space, and what advice would you offer to investors and entrepreneurs looking to navigate and mitigate potential challenges?

'Choose the team you invest in wisely and verify the technology and its ability to scale. 

The team needs to be composed of builders and doers not just talkers, yet it also has to have enough hustle to raise the cash and do the deals needed to make the business grow.

Don’t get obsessed with technology and don’t turn down diversity, as diversity is a huge strength in a startup where iterating new ideas so that learning happens rapidly is crucial to success.'


Connect with and learn from other cleantech changemakers like Bill Liao from across the industry in February at Tomorrow Matters and GAIA- the green hub designed to launch world-changing solutions.

There's never been a better time to get a jumpstart on your next big step in cleantech and agritech.

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