RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Agtech startup AgBiome told employees on October 16 that the company might need to lay off everyone—all 123 workers—by December in order to stay in business.

But Eric Ward, one of the co-CEOs of AgBiome, told TechWire in an exclusive interview that he’s been “heartened” by the “all for one, one for all” attitude at the company this week, despite the “tough news.”

“People were gathering on Tuesday and commiserating—and asking us how we’re doing,” said Ward, sharing that multiple employees checked in on him and co-CEO Scott Uknes the day after the announcement.

Ward also said that employees immediately started to brainstorm.

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“Trying to figure out together, ‘Okay, what are the highest priority things to keep working on?'” said Ward.

Uknes told TechWire that this kind of response is emblematic of the AgBiome culture.

“Over the last few days, of course, we’ve had all-hands meetings, and we talked about [potential layoffs],” said Uknes. “And it’s kind of amazing how people chime in and say how much they love working here, and that they want to keep working until the very end because they care about what we do and they care about the people that they work with on a daily basis.”

Uknes also said that AgBiome’s dedicated company culture is one of the reasons that he and Ward still believe that they could make a deal happen to prevent company-wide layoffs.

“And it was quite a bit of work to generate that kind of culture, but I think that’s why we’re so confident that we’re going to be able to find a landing pad for ourselves,” said Uknes. “Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everybody. We’re going to try our best in this financing environment.”

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Seeking capital in a ‘sickening’ market—or maybe an acquisition

Uknes and Ward both said that the company’s biggest challenge right now is raising capital.

“It’s just a sickening capital environment that we’re caught in,” said Uknes.

Ward said that the company is actively seeking alternatives to layoffs—and hasn’t counted out fundraising options just yet.

“We’re exploring a bunch of alternatives [to layoffs], of course, including still getting independently financed,” said Ward. “That said, as we pointed out already, it’s a god-awful climate right now, for private investment across the board. But we’re still getting inbound interest, even from new investors now. We do have a set of folks who are interested in investing in the company, provided we can get terms set by somebody, so we’re still pursuing it.”

Ward also said that they’re entertaining buyer conversations.

“We’ve also got a half a dozen or so companies that are interested in some form of strategic partnership or, potentially, acquisition of the company,” said Ward. “And we’re pursuing those as well.”

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