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FaceTime for Farmers Raises $450k Seed Round to Develop Visual Remote Support App – exclusive

February 9, 2016

Des Moines, Iowa-based startup AgriSync has raised $450k in seed funding to further develop and market its two-way video app that enables agriculture advisers to give visual remote support to farmers in their fields.

According to Iowa State University, more than 60 percent of all farming decisions or problem-solving activities involve an off-farm expert’s input. But it’s rare that this advice can be given in real-time as and when an issue, ranging from faulty equipment to crop health discoveries, occurs.

AgriSync, which works similarly to other two-way video apps like FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Skype, enables farmers to communicate with their advisors as soon as a problem occurs and when they’re still out in the field.

“AgriSync provides an alternative to an advisor having to get in his truck and drive a significant distance to assess any in-field issues,” said Jerrod Westfahl, co-founder of AgriSync. “That’s not only a timely and delayed response, but it’s also costly, especially if it occurs several times a year.”

And with the growing amount of agtech coming onto the farm, the service will become more relevant than ever, he added.

For farmers the app and service are free. For advisors — agronomists, equipment dealers, precision ag tech providers — there is a subscription model; monthly for individual advisors and annually for advising companies. These clients can tie their video support sessions to a fully-ticketed customer support system, and have access to a client retention tool and dashboard of their activity within the app.

“Advisers have been very supportive of AgriSync; we’ve had a really positive response,” said Westfahl. “There is new agtech coming to farmers at a rapid pace, which are either data oriented or biotechnology. We are all about human productivity which is something that’s been left out of the solution spectrum at the farm level. We focus on helping farmers and the people they rely on to connect better, so they can implement new tools and innovations easier.”

This first round of funding for the company attracted a group of strategic investors: a multi-owner diversified farming and livestock feeding operation, a media and data company, an angel network including ex-agribusiness executives, and an ag equipment dealership. AgriSync also recently won an award of $15k from the American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The company first started work on a prototype in the first half of 2014 and spent most of 2015 getting feedback on that from farmers. The app was released in December 2015 and is available across smart phone and tablet devices. The funding, which was raised in convertible debt, will be used to finish out some product features and enhancements to the current version, and for marketing and brand building.

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