- Digital grain-trading platform Bushel has raised $26 million in a fresh round of funding.
A new investor, private equity firm The Banc Funds Company, led the round.
- Other investors to the round include 50 South Capital, The Andersons, Inc., Cargill, Germin8, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, The Scoular Company, and Continental Grain Company investment group Conti Ventures.
- New funds will support the growth and expansion of Bushel’s ag software tools for areas like payments, retail services and automated grain contracts.
Funding the ‘Holy Grail’ of agriculture
“Our goal is to let the farmer get their tools connected wherever they are,” Bushel co-founder and CEO Jake Joraanstad tells AgFunderNews. “Making that easy is really important to us because our customers, the ones who are buying our software and providing to their farmer, want to make the farmers’ business easier.”
The Bushel software platform digitizes the agricultural supply chain for grain elevators, ag retailers, farmers and other food- and ag-related businesses. It’s current suite of offerings includes the Bushel mobile app, website building and hosting for grain facilities, a digital payments too and farm management software, to name a few.
The company currently serves more than 100,000 farmers and 2,600 grain and ag retail facilities in North America. It claims to manage account-related data for over 45% of farm-originated grain in the US and Canada.
Joraanstad says Bushel was considering a fundraise last fall but ultimately decided to pause conversations with investors due to the difficult fundraising environment.
“Part of the value of having a good investor base in your cap table is the people who are around for the long haul in agriculture, and I feel like we have some of those folks in our cap table.
“As we were going out to the market, we had a lot of support from the existing investors but they wanted to see if we could bring in a new lead.”
Said new lead, Chicago-based The Banc Company Funds Company has invested in regional banks and financial services for more than 30 years. Of late, it’s been investing in fintech companies.
“They see bushel as one of those growing areas where agriculture and payments are coming together in a vertical software vertical SaaS solution. The Holy Grail is vertical SaaS and a two-sided market in payments all in one capability.”
“As the agricultural industry modernizes payments, we believe the financial opportunities are substantial, and we are proud to partner with such a dynamic and innovative team as they continue to strengthen the company’s product offerings,” Christopher Hopkins, fintech portfolio manager at The Banc Funds Company, said in a statement.
Where the money will go
Some of the new funding will go towards the Bushel Payments tool, which Bushel launched last year to facilitate digital payments between farmers and agribusiness partners. The company says 80% of payments in US agriculture are still made with paper checks.
While it’s still early days for electronic payments in ag, Joraanstad is confident “it’s going to happen and we hope to lead the way there.”
Funding will also support the expansion of Bushel’s retail tools — transactions around feed, fertilizer, seed and so forth. The company is building “CRM-like functionality” into those tools.
“If I’m doing business as an ag retailer, I want to understand both the grain business and what I’m selling to farmer for inputs,” says Joraanstad. “Bushel has both of those perspectives and now we’re working on what those tools look like.”
Bushel recently unveiled what he calls “the customer view,” where commercial grain elevators or retailers with Bushel tools can almost instantly access information about a farmer they want to talk to.
“You know their status or their contract with you, when the last delivery was, when they last purchased fertilizer in no time at all, and you can do it from your phone or on the web browser at home.”
Taking the bigger picture into view, he says the new funding is also to get Bushel “in a position where we can be here for a long time.”
“Sometimes being around, proving value and not having to change your focus every couple of years can start to build trust and stability with your customers. This industry requires patience and being around long enough to see success. I’m proud of Bushel that we’re doing that and we’ve got an investor base that’s supportive of that work.”