Farming is a multi-billion dollar industry and in terms of new technologies, the AgriTech space is one of the fastest growing on the planet right now. As the industry struggles to manage the growth of the world’s food resources in trying conditions, startups are beginning to create ways to make operations more efficient and cost effective.
New Zealand based startup AgriMap is one of those up and coming tech companies. The company has created farm management software that has a focus on record keeping, team collaboration and compliance.
Founded by Andy Lowe and Paul Ruddenklau, the platform lets users record important farming data on their phones as they complete work around their properties, negating the need for the current – and frankly out dated – paper and pen system that is used by hundreds of thousands of farmers around the world.
“The agricultural landscape around the world is changing so quickly that you can no longer just do whatever you want to do,” says Lowe. “A big part of that is now keeping records so you can prove what’s on your farm. Those records are used for governing authorities and industry, like meat companies or dairy companies. So keeping all this information accurate is a pretty big deal.”
As an example, if a dairy farmer was to place a nitrogen fertiliser on their paddocks, they would be required to keep a record of what they used, how much they used and where they used it in order to figure out at the end of the year what their nutrient budget was. Then, using the team collaboration component of the application, an auditor can jump on, find out the information they need and do their job without ever having to leave their office – meaning the farmer only needs to pay them a couple of hundred dollars instead of thousands to visit them onsite.
The platform is a SaaS model product that costs users $30.00 a month. AgriMap’s platform Agri360 came out of BETA earlier this year and so far has around 800 customers, without any marketing push. Most of the users are based in New Zealand, however the team are starting to notice a take up of the product in other regions like Australia and the United States.
To the startup’s surprise though, it has not just been traditional farmers that are using the platform – urban farmers in the city are also using the platform to manage their smaller commercial gardens and boutique operations.
“We really love that people are using the platform for their city farms as well,” says Lowe. “These are the people that are trying to make a change, they’re trying to do better and be more efficient and carve out niches for themselves. They’re quickly looking for something special to help them to grow their operations.”
To date there have been two small rounds of seed funding for AgriMap that have come from high net-worth individuals in New Zealand. While AgriMap did not disclose to Startup Daily exactly how much those rounds were, a good estimate would be somewhere in the vicinity of NZ$200,000 to NZ$250,000.
Right now the the team is beginning discussions for a much larger Series A round of funding, where it hopes to close at least NZ$5.5 million to ramp up its traction in on-boarding new users globally. Lowe recognises that it is likely part of this investment will need to come from overseas investors and venture capitalists.
Investors are starting to realise that AgriTech is a long term play that has a lot more value to the planet than just making money. Customers in the space (like farmers) keep using products they choose for a long time, meaning the overall customer life-time value is higher. They are also solutions the world needs desperately if we are going to continue to eat in 20 years time.