It’s been quite a year for aWhere, the agronomic weather data analytics platform from Colorado.
From closing out its $7 million Series A round of funding in September 2014 on AgFunder, the agriculture-focused online investment platform, aWhere is now partner to some of the top names in agribusiness. And the sky is seemingly the limit as the company’s reach is moving beyond the farm gate and into the financial markets.
First founded back in 1999, aWhere has spent the best part of two decades expanding its global footprint, through the development of its daily, localized, agronomic weather software platform which captures over a billion weather data points every day. This includes the deployment of over 40 aWhere weather stations in sub-Saharan Africa, and over 10,000 ground stations from various sources to create weather surfaces and calibrate weather satellites globally.
But it wasn’t until this year that the company launched its first scalable products onto the market.
The first product, which launched in late February, is Weather aWhere, targeting farmers via agricultural service providers and intermediaries — think agronomists, crop scouts, and other software providers. Weather aWhere provides a range of data points from global weather and agronomic forecasting to field-specific intelligence. Its application program interface (API) can also be integrated with farmers’ own field data and “stitched into other software platforms”, according to John Corbett, CEO of the company.
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“Our data and agronomic modeling software is really good, but it’s also good at integrating other data because we have a great API,” he said.
The second product, which launched in October, is Risk aWhere, a risk management offering for a very different client base: commodities traders, insurance companies, hedge funds, and others that want to understand and model their commodity risk exposure.
“We can track the geographical area for one commodity and tell you how that is growing,” said Corbett. “We make a histogram based on data from our weather database with representative fields every 9 km and tell clients what percentage of a certain crop is under stress, or much drier than normal and so on. And our financial clients use this data as they build their own internal performance indices.”
“Anyone with commodity risk exposure should be looking at this: these data have greater fidelity in space and time than anyone else,” he added.
The launch of these two products has culminated in the forming of various partnerships in recent months. The biggest was with Sage Insights, the new joint venture between John Deere, the agricultural machinery giant, and DN2K, the company behind MyAgCentral, a cloud-based data platform for growers.
aWhere was already providing data to MyAgCentral for six months before the Deere and DN2K JV took aWhere’s product to John Deere in October.
“We are part of MyAgCentral’s core, so we are effectively working with Deere,” said Corbett. “And with other big deals coming down the pipe, this is clearly an affirmation that what we’re doing is pretty solid.”
Other deals struck include one with AgVerdict, the strategic decision-making toolkit from Wilbur-Ellis, the agriculture marketing and distribution company.
What has made aWhere so successful? The quality and depth of its data, argues Corbett.
“The key that sets us apart from other weather services is our best-in-class localized agronomic weather database optimized for agriculture,” said Corbett. “Other databases use information for other industries such as ski resorts, or data collected along roads for transportation, which is not representative of what’s going on in the field. Our partnership with Colorado State University, which helps us to process a global, hourly precipitation data feed, is also key to our differentiation.”
So what’s up next?
“Grow, grow, grow. Sell, sell, sell,” said Corbett. “We have been so focused on the science of what we do, but now we have a great sales and marketing team to drive things forward.”
The aWhere team has more than doubled over the past year to just over 40 staff today, and will continue to grow with a dedicated in-house recruitment person. “On-boarding people has been a challenge as our product release has evolved requiring lots of new skills.”
The company is unlikely to launch any new products, instead focusing on augmenting the two it has already. This includes introducing pest and disease models to its agronomic service, or helping to present the risk data in a more consumable way for new clients like insurance companies, according to Corbett.
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