Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time over the weekend, beating Canada’s Milos Raonic in three sets.
The company raised £274,380 ($361k) on Seedrs, the UK crowdfunding platform, with which Murray has a strategic partnership, according to Hectare.
“We understand Murray is particularly keen on investing in technology related start-ups, and we are delighted he has chosen to invest in Hectare through Seedrs,” said Nick Shepherd, non-executive chairman of Hectare.
Hectare Agritech’s seed funding, which follows an earlier £150k raise in January, will be used to build out both platforms, ahead of a larger venture capital raise when the company wants to partner with strategic investors.
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“The crowdfunding route was simple, quick and relatively inexpensive for raising our early funds,” said Shepherd. “Our next stage of funding later this year is different: we shall need funds of course, but we will also want our funding partner to bring expertise in developing out digital marketplaces; capability in international roll out; and experience in innovative monetization programs.”
“We have already started some early discussions with parties who are showing considerable interest, including one Californian VC fund with extensive agricultural investments around the world,” he added.
SellMyLivestock was the brainchild of Dan Luff, the company’s livestock director and a fourth-generation cattle farmer based in Hampshire, UK, who became increasingly frustrated with the current process of buying and selling livestock. It usually involved making calls to buyers and sellers to get price quotes, and he rarely, if ever, reached the price that was quoted in the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
Traditionally livestock is sold in the UK through live auction rings, as well as some direct farmer-to-processor relationship trading and some direct farmer-to-farmer trading through listings in farming newspapers.
Grain too has been sold on a relationship basis between farmers and intermediaries and both livestock and crops can go through two or three intermediaries before they reach the end user.
“It’s that market inefficiency the two businesses are seeking to exploit,” said Shepherd. “There is no real digital competitor to either platform.”
SellMyLivestock and Graindex enable farmers to sell their products directly from the farm, through the online platform and using a smart and secure payment system called FarmPay, which is owned by Hectare and powered by Stripe, the US financial services business.
Sales can take place anywhere through the platforms’ mobile apps and they are fully traceable. There’s also the added benefits to animal welfare, as cattle are not being transported from farm to market to farm, but directly from farm to farm. Farmers stand to save on the costs associated with that transport too.
How does Hectare Agritech make money?
“SellMyLivestock operates a “freemium” model commonly found in disruptive marketplaces,” reads the website. “A basic listing is free, however, a range of paid upgrades such as featured listings, social media boosting, premium membership and reservation fees are now being integrated.” The platform is also introducing online ‘shops’ and dedicated sales portals.
Graindex will generate income for Hectare Agritech from commission earned on every tonne sold.
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