Biotipac is a disruptive startup developing consumer & environment-friendly bio-preservation and bio-control solutions for sustainable food & crop protection.
The second annual Women of Agrifood Nation Competition transpired on June 6, 2021, at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. The competition was held to support the growth of female-led ventures.
Ifat Hammer is the female founder, CEO, & CTO of Biotipac, and one of the six finalists in the Women of Agrifood Nation Competition.
After all of the accomplished and well-spoken finalists gave their pitch, Hammer was selected as the winner of the competition. She was granted a packaged prize that included a $200k investment by COPIA Agro & Food Technologies, business support from financial support to go-to-market strategy, storytelling through media coverage, and access to co-working space.
Her company, Biotipac, develops consumer and environmentally friendly bio-preservation and biocontrol solutions to extend the shelf-life.
We were able to interview Ifat Hammer and gain some insight into her experience as a woman in the food tech industry.
How have you felt on your journey to where you are today? What were some of the key moments in your journey?
We have been supported by devoted business mentors who are experts and leaders in their field. This has helped us in strengthening our business plans and in better presenting our strengths and value proposition. Understanding the needs from the eyes of an investor helped us in better communication of our story.
With every meeting, I have felt that we are growing and progressing and with that grew my enthusiasm. I was extremely impressed with the genuine efforts to support us along the journey, especially by the ACT Foodtech team.
Thanks to the competition our achievements received significant recognition and Biotipac is very well positioned now on the map of agrifood startups.
In parallel, I had the privilege of getting to know the other finalists. All of them are very talented and extremely inspiring with their innovative technologies and leadership skills.
What motivates you to keep going when you get turned down, especially as a woman in this sector?
I have worked for many years in the "traditional industry" and seen how men are being promoted to managerial and C-level positions meteorically, while women with the same qualifications or better have to move stone by stone to be recognized as leaders until they reach a certain "glass ceiling". This taught me to set on my own "glass ceiling" and take full responsibility for my career and personal life. When I get turned down or hear directly or indirectly that I am not capable of doing something, I don't argue, I just keep ongoing. Persistence and self-belief are key factors in survival in this sector. I believe that no one can argue with achievements or results. Success is a fact that can't be questioned.
In your experience, what has been the biggest challenge working in a startup as a woman, and how do you find ways to overcome/these challenges?
Women are not perceived yet as potential leaders, managers, or entrepreneurs who are capable of creating an impact. For this reason, I find myself working twice as hard as any man in the same position. There is no room for "sloppy work" and no room for mistakes or lack of professionalism. I make sure that any fact or work I present is well validated and supported by endless trials. This is extremely crucial in the early stages of fundraising where development is still in early stages. Luckily, I am not afraid of working hard. I believe that a "good product sells itself alone" and no one can argue with excellence.
Anything else you would like to include about women in Food Tech/Agri Food?
If you told me ten years ago that I would become an entrepreneur and establish a startup I would have probably said "impossible". Despite having proven experience in product development at that time, I thought that entrepreneurship requires very specific business skills. Only after I had graduated from the MBA program at the Technion Institute several years ago, have I realized that there is no reason to fear. If more women will dare to execute their ideas and initiatives and establish startups, other women will follow as the map changes. This starts with education and continues with success stories.
However, in my view, this is not enough. The roots of gender inequality lie in the way women's jobs are perceived, and I have seen it so many times in the traditional industry. A food engineer who is responsible for quality assurance for example would be titled as a "Quality Associate" while the same position with the same responsibilities fulfilled by men would be titled as "Quality Manager". Furthermore, while men are supported by assistant personnel and become team managers, women are expected to fulfill technical tasks on their own. And this is where inequality starts. Women both in public and private sectors as well as in the academy are not yet perceived as potential leaders and entrepreneurs (either by themselves or the environment), and this perception unconsciously interferes when approaching investors in this sector. I believe it is our responsibility to continue demanding recognition in our skills, and I believe success stories are a start in changing this perception.
Ifat Hammer said, “I have worked for many years in the "traditional industry" and seen how men are being promoted to managerial and C-level positions meteorically, while women with the same qualifications or better have to move stone by stone to be recognized as leaders until they reach a certain "glass ceiling". This taught me to set on my own "glass ceiling" and take full responsibility for my career”