Edyn, the Californian soil sensor company, has raised $2 million in follow-on seed funding just weeks after launching its new smart irrigation controller WaterValve.
This is a follow-on round to the earlier $2.075 million seed round Edyn raised on AgFunder in 2015.
The funding will be used to support the retail rollout of WaterValve and to expand internationally. Global plans will start in Japan, where Edyn’s lead investor in this round – Fenox Venture Capital – has a particularly strong footprint, according to Jason Aramburu, CEO of Edyn.
“They’re very interested in bringing our technology to Japan, particularly the Fukushima area, where there is an opportunity to help revitalize the region’s agriculture industry,” Aramburu told AgFunderNews.
The company’s first product, the wireless Garden Sensor, enables customers to monitor the environment in which their plants are growing and through data analysis and an app, makes a range of real-time recommendations. While currently focused on consumer gardeners, Aramburu originally conceived of the soil sensor as a way to help Kenyan farmers grow their crops more efficiently.
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“This expansion offers a tremendous opportunity to extend Edyn’s use commercially while maintaining its utility for consumer gardeners, as well as helping to reach sustainability on a local and global scale,” he added.
The WaterValve and the Garden Sensor can work side-by-side, helping gardeners, and farmers, deliver the right amount of water to their plants or crops.
Japan is no stranger to agtech as is a leader in subsectors such as indoor agriculture and has been making strides in the robotics space too. But Aramburu thinks Edyn will have an advantage in the country because its consumer products are already doing well there, and Fenox VC counts several large Japanese tech companies as LPs in its fund. “They really have the connection to give us an advantage over there,” he said.
But what about the application to farming? Aramburu has been working with farmers to test Edyn equipment using consumer-grade hardware and is now testing a longer range version of the sensors. This latest round of funding will help drive this initiative.
“This is also an opportunity to move into farming as our investors are putting together a tech partnership that can help us surmount the challenges in doing that,” he said.
Having strategic partnerships is essential for a hardware company like Edyn, argues Aramburu, because it’s very capital intensive. “For a hardware startup, it’s an unspoken reality that you need to have a strategic partner,” he said. “Because ag hardware is such a new field, your typical VCs don’t necessarily have the connections with distribution into retail and ag, and that’s critical to growing these types of businesses.”
“People don’t realize in hardware that you have to buy everything you produce before you sell it. Having access to a strategic partner who has working capital in place for their own production can be a really important advantage to pursue,” he added.
During what Aramburu describes as uncertain and volatile investment markets globally, this latest funding round gives Edyn more flexibility and lead time before it needs to raise funding again at Series A. “But we certainly wouldn’t wait given the right opportunity,” he added.
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