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Ceres Imaging Raises $5M Series A

May 10, 2017

Ag-focused aerial imaging and analytics company Ceres Imaging announced it has successfully raised $5 million in a Series A led by Romulus Capital, bringing the company’s funding to $8 million to date.

Originally begun as an agricultural drone developer, Ceres Imaging founder and CEO Ashwin Madgavkar told Tech Crunch that it was soon evident that drones would not meet the needs of commercial agricultural producers who need to monitor thousands of acres in detail. This led to the company shifting its focus to developing proprietary sensors and cameras that are mounted on fixed wing aircraft. This approach allows the company to gather higher resolution and better quality images compared to satellite imagery while also achieving greater scale and consistency compared to drones.

The company, which has worked with UC Davis to fine-tune its analytics platform, then leverages the expertise of its team of PhD agronomists, hydrologists, and remote sensing leaders to analyze the gathered data, producing specific and actionable guidance for farmers geared to result in the optimization of water and fertilizer usage and early warnings on plant health issues throughout the growing season.

Drilling down, the company is also able to center its focus only on vegetation, eliminating any interference from shadows or soil data in the analysis stage.

“I founded Ceres after working in Brazilian sugarcane agriculture, where I saw the waste and inefficiency caused by overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals due to a lack of data,” said Ashwin Madgavkar, founder and CEO.  “We offer growers truly meaningful aerial data, measuring water and nitrogen content at a plant level, which allows growers to identify over- and under-watering, fertilization problems, and other resource issues. Growers have been impacted by increased regulatory oversight and drought conditions, and we expect these issues will continue.”

Working mainly in the U.S. and Australia, there are no up-front costs or hardware that growers are required to purchase through Ceres, rather, each farmer pays by the acre on a subscription basis. This business structure and its best-in-class technology has led to Ceres Imaging currently managing hundreds of thousands of acres across the two countries and across a range of crops, from permanent crops like tree nuts, to specialty crops including vegetables, and row crops such as corn and soybeans.

Madgavkar told Tech Crunch that the company is providing services to 10 percent of the world’s almond industry and is working with six out world’s 10 largest tree nut and vine growers. It is this success and the company’s technology and team that attracted Romulus Capital.

“We have surveyed the ag tech market for a couple of years, and Ceres stood out. Ceres combines better imaging technology, best-in-class scientific analytics, a world-class team, and a really humble and collaborative approach to a massive, intelligent, and hungry industry that is often tricky to sell into,” said Krishna K. Gupta, founder and managing partner of Romulus Capital. “Unlike most of its competitors, Ceres has found a way to create a measurable impact on the bottom line for its customers. We’re really excited to be working with Ceres and look forward to working with them to expand their product suite and global footprint.”

Ceres Imaging plans to use this new influx of capital to fund its expansion into new crops, particularly commodity crops in the U.S. Midwest, and the expansion of its marketing and sales initiatives.

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com.

 

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