UK-based startup KisanHub has raised a £1.75 million ($2.43m) second seed round to expand its farm management and data analytics software platform capabilities, with a focus on enhancing weather predictions. The round was led by UK-based B2B tech venture capital firms Notion Capital and IQ Capital. Calibrate Management and other angel investors also participated in the round.
Founded in 2013, KisanHub uses big data analytics, cloud computing, and machine learning to compile data from satellite imagery, weather stations, soil sensors, and other sources. The platform offers yield predictions, pesticide application monitoring and other features for potato growing, which helps sellers manage contracts and supports farmers’ decision-making.
The platform also integrates market data and compliance requirements for potatoes, and provides information and makes recommendations on crop protection products.
KisanHub’s target customers are agriculture enterprises, such as suppliers, processors, and retailers that own some of their own farmland but work with a network of contract farmers. The company is able to integrate enteprises’ existing software or excel systems to provide a bespoke solution.
Farmers, while not KisanHub’s main focus, also use the technology as enterprise partners roll out the software across their networks. Roughly 2,300 growers in the UK and 700 in India use KisanHub’s software, all paid for by the enterprise customers.
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KisanHub sources data via hardware and imagery partnerships, including one with satellite imagery provider Planet Labs. It also integrates public data.
The startup is planning to use its latest round of funding to deploy 100 of its own weather stations across the UK. KisanHub has not been able to get the level of granularity it wants from publicly available weather data, says Sachin Shende, KisanHub’s co-founder and CEO. Installing its own wealther stations will enable the platform to deliver more precise weather predictions.
Another focus for the company this year will be integrating telematics data from farm machinery into the platform.
Shende hopes these enhancements will help researchers support farmers in achieving better yields and bring value to KisanHub’s customers and growers. “At the moment there is a yield-gap between research and the fields,” he said. “We want to close that gap by capturing that data in our platform.”
KisanHub already provides a bridge between growers and researchers at NIAB, an international plant science research center based in Cambridge, UK, and investor in KisanHub.
The startup is also developing strategies to sell data up and down the value chain.
“The combination of having created the most advanced algorithms dedicated to this field, together with a strong focus on ease of installation and usability, creates a compelling ROI and will drive adoption of this technology throughout the agritech sector,” said IQ Capital’s Kerry Baldwin, who is also a potato farmer.
KisanHub has offices in the Cambridge, UK and Pune, India. It plans to double its current team of eight this year to add to its sales and customer service capabilities. KisanHub will focus on sales in the UK, its primary market, where Shende estimates the company’s software covers 6% of the potato crop.
“We need to go deeper in the UK market first because we haven’t really achieved the penetration we want yet. We have plenty of room to grow here,” said Shende.
The startup is also eying expansion into the US through existing clients, as some UK potato enterprises also contract growers in the US.
KisanHub raised a $1 million seed round in 2016 after being accelerated out of the Cambridge University Judge Business School’s Accelerate Program in 2013.