Yagro, an online platform connecting farmers with their suppliers, has raised $500k in seed funding. The UK-based startup was founded in March by Gareth Davies, CEO and ex-Syngenta, Richard Sears, an ex-travel tech entrepreneur, and Dan Jolly, who comes from a Norfolk farming family.
The platform aims to alleviate the pain points experienced by farmers in the purchasing and procurement of inputs by enabling them to request quotes and place orders online.
These pain points include:
- the time and effort farm managers take purchasing and procuring supplies for the farm, including fuel, chemicals, and fertilizers
- the lacking visibility farmers have on the options available to them meaning they’re often unable to make an informed choice to ensure they get the best deal for their farm
Davies saw these pain points while working at Syngenta and was surprised there was no technological solution yet. The majority of farmers are still placing and organizing orders manually on paper, and by phone, fax or email.
The Yagro platform is cloud-based so farmers can send requests easily, as well as compare quotes from any device at any time. They can also manage their orders, view expected deliveries, monitor their spending, and access data and analytics on their purchasing history through the platform’s dashboard.
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Unlike other online procurement platforms such as Farmers Business Network, Yagro does not aim to replace farmers’ existing relationships with suppliers but to help them manage those relationships in a more organized and transparent fashion.
“If you have a preferred relationship, you can use the platform to maintain that,” said Davies. “We’re not seeking to change how things are done but we’re bringing technology to enhance these relationships.”
The suppliers that Yagro has worked with so far have embraced the platform, he added.
In 2017, the company will focus on UK growth, where farmers spend £12 billion on inputs, but after a more substantial round of funding next year, it will start the internationalization process.
“One of the nice things about procurement and purchasing is that farmers face similar challenges and needs in a lot of different markets so it’s an inherently repeatable and therefore scalable model.”
The proceeds of this seed round will go towards product development and platform improvements, building out the team, and investing heavily in marketing.
The investors in the seed round were made up of angel investors in the finance, technology or agriculture sectors.
Davies and his team have yet to experience any negative ramifications from Brexit. “Operationally it’s not making much difference and we haven’t seen any fall off in the market — angel investment interest was still very strong, but the broader questions around funding and talent availability into the future are as yet unanswered so we will have to wait and see.”