The deal includes the acquisition of FarmWizard, an established UK livestock management software company, from Wheatsheaf; the investment was part cash and part equity transfer.
AgriWebb is a record-keeping and management software platform providing farmers with complete task and inventory management tools to create to-do lists for each field, track inputs on pasture land and any complementary cropping land they might have. This feeds into a decision support tool offering insights based on reports about stocking rates, fertility, sales, treatments, and feed.
FarmWizard offers similar tools but with more focus on individual animal data.
“FarmWizard’s heavy dairy focus and individual animal management functionality is very complementary to our existing cloud-based software, which is mostly focused on pasture-based livestock management systems prevalent in Australia,” Kevin Baum, AgriWebb CEO told AgFunderNews. “FarmWizard has some incredible customer relationships with some of the largest beef and milk processors in Europe.”
The Wheatsheaf Group, which is the agrifood investment arm of the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Group, discovered AgriWebb after doing a global search for a farm management software platform in which to invest; the merger with FarmWizard, which Wheatsheaf acquired in 2015, came up early in conversations, according to Baum.
Of acquiring an established European business, Baum said: “At the beginning of this year our goal was to open an international market but we didn’t think this would happen!”
While AgriWebb has a core focus on improving efficiencies for livestock farmers, by giving them a platform in which to record their daily operations, the startup is also building a product for advisors and processors further down the supply chain that can, in turn, be shared with retailers and ultimately consumers.
“With FarmWizard’s technology we can add a deeper level of granularity of data for individual animal tracking that farmers can share with their consultants, as well as processors keen to meet the demands of retailers for traceability and transparency about farm management practices,” said Baum. “It’s very difficult to get this kind of data though the supply chain and we hope our product suite will allow that to happen painlessly for the farmer, giving consumers the traceability they need as well as the ability to avoid food crises across the world.”
Capturing data such as the use of antibiotics and chemicals in production can confirm organic certification, while data such as genetics, grazing patterns, weather, and weight gain patterns throughout the life cycle of the animal, enable AgriWebb to offer recommendations to farmers.
The startup says it has helped some farmers increase their productivity by 20% by combining these data insights with years of research.
For example, one client increased its lambing rates by 25% year-on-year after AgriWebb made recommendations to change the date of shearing its sheep in relation to when they joined (mated), according to Baum.
“We’re certainly not telling farmers what to do — they are the experts and know how to run their farms best — but we’re offering guidelines based on what we know about their farms,” he said.
AgriWebb will use the proceeds to accelerate the rate of product development and increase its customer service team globally. The startup has now raised A$20 million to-date from a A$3.8m seed round and a bridge round in December 2017.
Anthony James, COO of the Wheatsheaf Group said, “At Wheatsheaf we take an innovation-led approach to identifying, investing in and helping to develop product or service-led companies that have the potential to make a material difference in improving the efficiency of food production. We see AgriWebb as a global leader in farm management technology and look forward to working with the AgriWebb team to further our mutual goals of improving livestock production around the world.”