Conservis Raises $10m in Debt to Fund Partnerships Ahead of Equity Raise in 2016 – exclusive

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Conservis, the software-as-a-service farm management tool, has raised $10 million in debt financing from existing investors. The debt will provide bridge funding until the company raises a new equity round next year, Patrick Christie, CEO, told AgFunderNews.

The company, which launched in 2009 to help farmers with workflow management, will draw down the bridge financing as needed for expansion into new geographies and to fund new industry partnerships, according to Christie.

“Part of what we’re investing in heavily is integration with partners, such as machinery manufacturers like John Deere, and weather and climate technologies,” he said. “There is a variety of great companies that are part of the ecosystem of the agribusiness world which can help us bring connectivity to the farm and drive adoption of Conservis.”

In selecting partners to exchange farm data with, Conservis looks at each region and the type of agricultural production to work out who will be the best fit. There is some commonality with companies like John Deere having a global reach, but otherwise, it’s very much “a regional thing and crop specific”, said Christie.

“We launched a nut production platform this year, so we have been integrating with some different technologies than we have on the corn and beans side,” he said.

Technology tie-ups are on the rise: weather agronomic weather data analytics platform aWhere recently partnered with AgVerdict, the strategic decision-making toolkit from Wilbur-Ellis, the agriculture marketing and distribution company. aWhere also recently announced a partnership with Sage Insights, the new joint venture between John Deere and DN2K, the company behind MyAgCentral, a cloud-based data platform for growers. 

And John Deere entered into a partnership with Monsanto’s Climate Corp after acquiring Precision Planting. The machinery giant has agreed to connect its machinery with Climate Corp’s FieldView platform in the industry’s “first and only near real-time in-cab wireless connection to John Deere equipment by a third party”, according to a press release at the time.

With Conservis looking to John Deere as a potential partner, does this arrangement with Climate Corp impact things?

“Conservis is a farm system for everything about the farm, from field workers to budgeting. What Deere is doing with Climate Corp is yield optimization. Precision Planting is about variable rate planting, so it’s a production discussion, but until we connect all those pieces to the farmer’s platform, they are still dealing with silos of data,” said Christie. “Precision Planting is a phenomenal system, but farmers still need to know how to translate that data. How many dollars can he make from that field? Who did the work? How does he report on it? The nuts and bolts of business. We take that data and integrate it into a platform for him.”

There are a lot of agtech startups that could make good partners for Conservis, but how does Christie pick the winners?

“They have to be able to demonstrate that they can survive for the duration of getting commercial in agriculture,” he said. “Can they get access to capital or partners that can give them a capital base to move through the long-term and get their technology onto farms globally?”

Conservis expects to need a “tremendous amount of cash” to fully succeed and has raised this bridge financing to give the company enough runway before finding the “best, next equity partner” in 2016.

Conservis, which raised $16.7 million in Series A funding, counts Cultivian Sandbox, Middleland Capital and Heartland Farms among its investors.

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