KisanHub, a UK-based agriculture big data hub, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Notion Capital, a venture firm focused on B2B Software-as-a-Service and cloud companies, and NIAB, a major international plant science research center based in Cambridge, UK.
KisanHub is one of very few UK software startups focused on farm data collection, analytics, and decision support. According to its website it offers data capturing and recording, data storage and management, data analytics and visualization, and data-driven decisions and recommendations around irrigation, pest management, and inputs.
It’s also rare in its approach to adoption; KisanHub targets agriculture enterprises; not farmers like most precision ag services do in the US. Agriculture enterprises are suppliers to processors and retailers that will own some of their own farmland, but also have a network of contract farmers, explains Sachin Shende, co-founder of the startup.
“When we started, we were much like many of the other big data and farm software companies, and we planned to sell our product to farmers, but when we went to market and started talking to farmers, we realized talking to enterprises would make more sense,” he said. “They have a similar set of problems as farmers, but at a much larger scale; lots of data they don’t know what to do with, and a desire to grow more using fewer resources. They are in a very competitive business so want to connect to their network for farmers and provide them the support they need to increase their margins.”
So while farmers are not the customer, they will use the technology for their own plots of land as enterprises roll out the software across their network. Enterprises will usually have existing in-house software or systems surrounding excel, which KisanHub will integrate with to provide a bespoke solution, according to Shende. KisanHub is also aiming to integrate with as much data collection hardware that it can.
Enterprises will usually have existing in-house software or systems surrounding excel, which KisanHub will integrate with to provide a bespoke solution, according to Shende. KisanHub is also aiming to integrate with as much data collection hardware that it can.
“We partner with hardware providers such as weather station manufacturers,” he said. “Users do not want to double enter data; everyone hates entering data, so we need to optimize this as much as possible.”
It’s currently partnering with two weather station manufacturers, for example, and will recommend them to users if they don’t already have their own in place, but as new tools hit the market, KisanHub wants to integrate with them all.
“This definitely creates challenges at our end; it’s not simple work, but we take it on a case-by-case basis and look for immediate priorities and low-hanging fruit, such as integrating with an existing CRM system. It took us four weeks to do this with one client,” Shende added.
Regarding some of the data standardization initiatives happening in the US and Europe, Shende says they are not waiting for anyone, and need to proceed as they are.
NIAB is not just an investor in KisanHub but a strategic partner and the two are working on rolling out KisanHub software across the institute giving its 2,000 member network access to field trial data and research and the potential for comparison with the wider industry.
The proceeds of the funding round give the start-up runway for next 16 to 19 months and will be used to build out the platform, hire more engineers to ramp up product development, and hire operational staff to help onboard customers. The company is currently focusing on the UK market and India, where it opened offices at the end of 2015.
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