*Agrible brought on a new investor Flyover Capital to close out its Series A round on February 2, 2016. The deal first closed in July 2015 with Serra Ventures and ADM. Below is an updated version of a post that was first published on July 22, 2015.
There are a variety of precision agriculture tools on the market today, each offering a different way for farmers to access and analyse data about their farming practices and make informed decisions as a result.
Some produce hardware such as sensors to measure and collect data, whereas others analyse the data collected and present it to farmers in a variety of formats.
Agrible, the Champaign, Illinois agtech start-up, is in the latter group but claims to offer something a bit different to others in its field; predictive analytics. Through its proprietary algorithms; Agrible’s Morning Farm Report, a subscription service, provides “highly accurate” forecasts and data on fieldwork logistics, yield estimates, rainfall, growing degree days, and more, according to a press release.
By using a number of public data sources, Agrible not only reports on what’s already happening in the field, but it’s giving farmers forecasts and actionable recommendations to help with future decision making. And “that’s what makes them really different versus just looking at the past”, said Rob Schultz, partner at Serra Ventures, the seed and growth stage venture capital firm.
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Serra, a seed investor in Agrible, led Agrible’s Seed A round of funding, helping the start-up to raise $4.1 million. The VC firm also brought the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), the global food-processing and commodities-trading corporation, and later Flyover Capital, a technology VC firm focused on investing in middle America, or ‘Flyover country‘.
As part of the deal with ADM, the Chicago-based agribusiness will help Agrible distribute its services as the analytics company doesn’t go to market directly. “Through ADM, Agrible will be able to reach millions of acres and thousands of growers worldwide,” Schultz told AgFunderNews.
Based in Champaign, Illinois, Serra is right at the heart of US farming and has made agtech one of the three core verticals in Fund II, its $80 million fund, from which this Series A investment was made. Fund II closed in October 2013 and is now near full deployment across 25 investments so Serra is planning to start fundraising its third fund later this year year or in early 2016, according to Schultz. Fund III will be a much larger vehicle than Fund II, although a target has not yet been set, he added.
Data analytics is Serra’s strong suit because that’s where the firm’s knowledge base in centered. “We aren’t geneticists – our partners have invested in software companies and predictive analytic companies before extending into the agri space, so we are taking a knowledge and vertical perspective,” said Schultz.
Serra successfully exited 640 Labs, a precision farming and data analytics platform, late last year when it was acquired by The Climate Corporation after just six months in the portfolio. Through its two-tranche investment in the start-up– in June and October — 640 Labs posted a 500 percent internal rate of return for Serra, according to a press release at the time.
Although Fund II does have other agtech-related investments in its portfolio including Food Essentials, a St Louis-based data collector, aggregator and analyser and for food labels company. Food Essentials captures attributes off food labels to validate marketing claims around different ingredients. Fund II is also invested in Oso Technologies, a company that is developing a wireless, internet-connected soil moisture monitoring system that helps gardeners save water and keep their plants healthy. Oso Technologies launched a Kickstarter campaign for its Plant Link system in 2013 and surpassed its $75,000 target by raising over $96,000.
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