Ceres Imaging Raises Additional $2.5M in Series A Funding
November 2, 2017
Oakland, California-based Ceres Imaging, an ag-focused aerial spectral imaging and analytics startup, has secured an additional $2.5 million in Series A funding from Romulus Capital, bringing the total round to $7.5 million.
Ceres Imaging announced in May of this year that it had successfully raised $5 million in a Series A led by Romulus, which at the time, brought the company’s total funding to $8 million. With the additional capital, total funding now tops $10.5 million.
Launched in Boston in 2008 by Krishna K. Gupta with only $850,000 while still an undergraduate at MIT, Romulus Capital announced that it had closed its third and largest fund – Rolumus Capital III LP, at $75 million last June. Through fund III, the firm stated that it planned to lead Seed or Series A rounds for between 15 and 20 early-stage tech startups.
Today, Romulus Capital ranks globally as the largest independent VC firm managed by partners under the age of 30, according to Boston CityBizList. However, its success is in the numbers, having seen growth of more than 200 percent and achieving assets under management of $150 million.
“We understand entrepreneurs, because we are entrepreneurs (and not just former entrepreneurs), which means we bring a passion and ingenuity for building great companies, since we are in the trenches building our company at the same time,” said Gupta. “We have a proven track record for successfully launching technology-driven companies and offer a powerful alternative over traditional funds with traditional thinking.”
A Measurable Impact
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 also is able to center its focus only on vegetation, eliminating any interference from shadows or soil data in the analysis stage.
“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,” said Madgavkar in May.
Initially working with orchards and vineyards, Ceres Imaging has since expanded its application to a variety of farms across the U.S Midwest, California, Hawaii, and Australia, reports Tech Crunch, and will use the newly gained funds to support the company’s efforts to expand its business to include greater amounts of row crop operations.
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 a range of crops – beginning with permanent crops like tree nuts, to specialty crops including vegetables, and now row crops, such as corn and soybeans.
It is this successful penetration that was an initial draw for Romulus.
“We have surveyed the ag tech market for a couple of years, and Ceres stood out,” said Gupta in May when it committed the first $5 million to Ceres Imaging’s Series A. “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. 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.”
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