French-based weather data company Sencrop has closed a $10 million Series A round led by BpiFrance, the French national equity investment fund. NCI Waterstart, Nord Capital, and The Yield Lab, in addition to current shareholders Demeter, the private equity firm and European digital startup backer Breega Capital, also invested in the round. The round follows a $1.4 million seed round in 2016. This marks The Yield Lab Europe’s first investment in a French startup.
The new round of funding will be used to accelerate Sencrop’s international development by expanding its network of weather stations, as well as its growing community of farmer users.
“We will also use the proceeds to deepen and strengthen our IT and data analysis to improve the data that we collect and to use it in combination with other sources of data. That’s how we provide farmers with the ability to make decisions, Martin DuCroquet, general director and co-founder at Sencrop, told AgFunderNews.
The fundraising process was relatively easy according to DuCroquet, who noted the importance of The Yield Lab joining its investor line-up to provide connections to the US market. He hopes to gain insight into the US market and agtech industry as the company continues its expansion plans.
“This round gives us two types of investors. Digital investors dedicated to the tech industry with a digital mindset giving us the capacity to better understand how to accelerate our digital product and to make it easier for farmers,” DuCroquet explains. “The second kind of investors bring value on the agtech industry side like The Yield Lab to help us make network connections with key players.”
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The startup claims to serve farmers in 10 countries throughout Europe with the largest network of agro-weather stations and sensors on the continent. Servicing agricultural operations of all different scales and types with its annual subscription-based service, the devices track air temperature, hygrometry, rainfall, leaf wetness, and wind speed. It also collects data from publicly-available sources to integrate into its algorithm. By analyzing this information, Sencrop hopes to help farmers, winemakers, arborists, and vegetable growers advance their farm management strategy by limiting sanitary expenses, all while reducing agro-weather and agro-environmental risks to crops.
“We are very proud to be a part of the Sencrop adventure and plan to go the distance, supporting this European AgTech startup in their next stage of growth. The agriculture industry is rapidly adapting technological, data-driven solutions, making it an increasingly important subject. France and its innovative startups have a key role to play here, and Sencrop is ideally positioned to take the lead,” Jason Bigeard, investment director at Bpifrance, said in a press release announcing the funding.
Launched in 2016, Sencrop began at the Lille, France-based EuraTechnologies business-accelerator. DuCroquet contributes a portion of the startup’s success to being able to tap into Europe’s diverse market. CEO Michael Bruniaux is also a co-founder.
“Europe is one continent, but it has several different agricultural markets. France is different from Germany, which is different from Spain, which is different from the Netherlands and so on. Our ability to enter into different European countries at the same time and to attract buyers from different mindsets has been key,” he explains. “Our investors saw this positively because you have to approach each country differently and this can be hard for others to do.”
One of the primary reasons that DuCroquet and Sencrop have been able to take a nimble approach to tapping various European markets has to do with the company’s product.
“The sales cycle is easy. From the moment where we meet a prospective client to when we sign them up is not a very lengthy process. Installation of the product is virtually instantaneous,” he says. “Our goal is to give farmers a tool to detect issues as early as possible and to create a collaborative tool by gaining feedback from the users, seeing how farmers compare data among themselves, and tailoring our platform to their needs.”
The startup has also garnered attention for a number of awards like being selected by the Village by CA accelerator for young innovative companies and receiving a SIMA Innovation Award in 2017 in recognition of contributions to the agricultural world. Sencrop also received a SIVAL silver medal in 2019 and is a member of the Hardware Club.
Image: Sencrop website