Ag tech

How female founder Danielle Morton raised $1.1 million for her agtech startup, Zondii

- May 18, 2023 3 MIN READ
Zondii founder Danielle Morton
Zondii founder Danielle Morton
 Danielle Morton, the Founder of agtech startup Zondii, is no stranger to doing things differently.

“As a regional female founder I knew I would be an outlier on the path to big city investment,” she said.

In support of this sentiment, according to research done by SBE Australia and Deloitte Access Economics she was fortunate to successfully raise an amount that contributed to the 0.7% of capital allocated to solely women founders in FY22. A task even more challenging for regional founders.

The State of the Australian Startup Funding report by Cut Through Venture & Folklore Ventures helps set the scene for why Zondii’s 2022 seed raise was both significant for women founders and against the odds. Overall the report indicates a positive outlook for Australian starts-ups and scale-ups raising capital, for Danielle it told a different story.

According to the report, equity funding to Australian startups in 2022 reduced by 30% and importantly for Zondii, the Australian agtech sector lost $120 million in startup funding.  Although early-stage funding rose by 12% to teams that had at least one woman on them, later stage funding significantly shrunk for those same teams. In addition, only 33% of women founders versus 50% of male founders reported that they felt supported by the ecosystem.

Morton says that she was one of those 33% that had the ecosystem support on her capital raising journey and how it continues to help her grow a successful agtech business.

She said that part of her success can be attributed to the support of organisations like SBE AustraliaScale Investors, Tech Ready Women Rare Birds and others that are designed to support entrepreneurial women-leading high growth businesses. She joined SBE Australia’s Evolve program in 2022 with a minimum viable product to test early market traction and become pitch ready for early-stage investment.

“We were in the middle of our raise during the program so we could implement the learnings in real time and it built our confidence to the point that we now have more investors than we need,” Moreton said.

SBE Director of Programs, Sarah Curtis Fawley said education delivery is only a small component of what SBE Australia’s programs seek to achieve.

“We focus on addressing barriers that impair growth, improving founder confidence and increasing their social capital networks,” she said.

“We are in the long game with our founders and aim to support them as they build high-growth impactful businesses. ”

She said that “the evidence tells us that these activities result in improved revenue growth and access to capital,” which other organisations, including female-focused angel investor network Scale Investors, can support.

Scale co-CEO Chelsea Newell said they first met the Zondii founder through our Scale EmpowerEd program.

“Danielle is an ambitious founder with a high calibre background that uniquely positions her to execute on the Zondii mission to solve a real world problem, one that resonated with Scale’s syndicate investors who have deep connections and expertise in the Ag space,” she said.

“The reason Scale Investors exists is to break down the barriers women face when capital raising and they do this by investing in women entrepreneurs via our sophisticated, networked and mission aligned investors.”

Zondii is on a mission to give farmers and consumers the technology, data and science to get recognition for their food or fibre.

According to AgriFutures food and fibre fraud costs Australia an estimated $3 billion annually and the industry is looking for a ‘trailblazer’ to bring the required fraud technology to life.

Danielle Moreton says that Zondii is that trailblazer.

“Zondii’s mission is essential to get farmers paid what their product is worth and to reveal fraudsters who erode consumer trust in high quality produce,” she said.

“The manuka honey industry is a classic example of this with 1700 tonnes of manuka honey produced each year yet 10,000 tonnes sold globally”.

Danielle said she has big ambitions to grow Zondii to a $1 billion company based in regional NSW and that without the support of a collaborative group or organisations focused on supporting women founders, these odds would be even harder to defy.

Zondii is currently working on applications of the technology in food and measuring micron, crimp and colour of wool, with lower micron bringing higher returns for farmers.

For more information or to join the food or wool waitlist, visit Zondii.com