Agribusiness platform Agro.Club today announced the close of a $5 million Series A round co-led by Rabo Frontier Ventures and VentureFriends. Existing investors Speedinvest and Elevator Ventures, plus a number of agriculture industry executives, also participated.
The New York-based, Europe-focused startup links key players in the global agricultural value chain including growers, crop buyers, food companies, and input suppliers through a digital ecosystem that is geared towards helping its members to do business more efficiently.
Suppliers offering seeds, crop inputs, and animal nutrition products among other things use the platform to manage their sales and marketing campaigns.
As digital agribusiness marketplaces extend their reach, many are diversifying by adding new services like fintech. Agro.Club founder and CEO Egor Kirin points out that it’s important to scale smartly.
“We were pretty careful in choosing who we want to work with,” he tells AFN.
“We found this very efficient go-to-market model where our platform is basically country-agnostic. We can launch in any market globally with the pipeline of customers that we have on board.”
Agro.Club is more than just a marketplace, according to Kirin. The platform focuses on three main pillars: crop marketing, ag input sales, and community and marketing services.
What Kirin and his team learned through working with ag corporates was a need for “deeper engagement,” he says.
“This is where we invested time and money on the product side, and we now offer a full ‘commercial effectiveness’ platform for multinational companies that allows them to run their commercial and marketing campaigns from start to finish. They’re better engaged with farmers and their channel partners.”
To date, Agro.Club claims to have 19,000 farmers across Europe and North America using its platform. Transaction volume grew 10x in 2020, reaching $40 million, it claims.
The Series A funding will be used to expand across Western Europe and into the Americas, starting with launches in Spain and the UK.
Agro.Club will also deploy some of the capital to bring its fintech offering, currently available in Russia, to North America and Europe. The service includes factoring, invoice financing, and credit.
“Many companies realize how much potential there is because agriculture is a very cashflow intensive business, but there has been very little innovation. The last fintech innovation in agriculture was the introduction of credit cards 20 years ago,” Kirin says.
Other agribusiness marketplaces that are trying to fold more fintech into agriculture include US-based Bushel, Growers Edge, and Traive; Brazil’s GoFlux and Agrolend; Canada’s Farmers Edge; and DeHaat and Jai Kisan in India. [Disclosure: AFN‘s parent company AgFunder is a DeHaat investor.]
As more marketplaces emerge and existing offerings expand, farmers may soon have a plethora of options. This could lead to decision fatigue or inertia as farmers wait to see which platforms are worth using and which aren’t.
“It comes down to value and that value depends on different features that are offered,” Kirin says. “Ultimately, by us working closely with manufacturers, general partners, or grain companies, we can together as a channel provide value to the farmer. We very much view ourselves as partnering versus disrupting.”