Farmobile Eyes Greater Reach After Raising $18M Series B
October 30, 2017
Farm data company Farmobile announced an $18.1 million Series B round including Anterra Capital, AmTrust Agricultural Insurance Company, and additional existing investors.
This round follows a $5.5 million Series A raised by the company in December 2015, led by Anterra, and brings total funding for the startup to more than $28 million.
Founded in 2013 and based in Overland Park, Kansas, Farmobile is a leading innovator in the farm data category, offering farmers a neutral method to collect, store, manage, and monetize data collected across all brands and manufacturers of machinery used. The company’s hardware simplifies data collected from farm machinery into Electronic Field Records, and its software platform provides farmers with real time decision support for all agricultural production activities, including planting, fertilizing, spraying, harvesting, and fleet management.
The company’s main product is the passive uplink connection – or PUC – a hardware device that can be integrated with any brand of farm machinery equipment, which then collects and streams machine and agronomy data in real time, which is then reformulated and delivered to the farmer’s mobile device.
“We are completely agnostic,” Jason Tatge, founder and CEO of Farmobile, told GAI News last year. “Our goal is to collect data, get it in a standardized data set and let the farmer decide where it should go. There are several analysis tools out there and the farmer can figure out which one works best on their farm.”
A critical point of differentiation for Farmobile however, is that it gives farmers ownership of their data – a long-debated topic of contention and discussion among farmers, agtech developers, and investors.
This point was touched upon at GAI’s AgTech Week 2017 during a panel examining the question of to what degree agtech developments were bringing harmony or conflict to the industry. During the panel that included Farmobile’s Jason Tatge along with Adam Anders of Anterra Capital, Geoff Kneen of Crop Science a Division of Bayer, Damien Lepoutre of GEOSYS, and Mohan Tavorath with International Farming Corporation, Tavorath stated, “I think the farmers are the frontiersmen, they are independent – ‘I own this – I put a lot of risk to do this – so I need to own the data.’ But it’s complex; sometimes nobody knows who owns the data – so breaking down the big company culture and having the grower hold the key – having the farmer own the data and decide who to share it with in exchange or agreeing to partake in the system [is key].”
“It’s hard to monetize something you don’t own. We in our agreements explicitly state that farmers are the authors of their own data sets. We help them to collect and store the data. That’s not the case with a lot of other firms in ag,” Tatge told GAI News.
Additionally, Farmobile also offers its Data Store – the first marketplace through which farmers can directly sell their data sets to third party buyers.
“Data is one of the most valuable things a farmer harvests today,” said Farmobile founder and CEO Jason Tatge in a company release announcing the company’s Series A in 2015. “Today’s announcement is a huge win for farmers around the world who want to put their data to work. Farmers ought to own and directly profit from the information they produce. It’s that simple.”
The company plans to use the capital raised through this round to fund the accelerated development of its distribution channels in ag retail, OEM and equipment dealerships, and insurance companies – partnerships that Farmobile states can revolutionize how tech products can be brought to market.
“Farmobile’s approach to ag data management is a breath of fresh air for the industry,” said Mark Raymie, president of AmTrust Agriculture Services. “Better utilization of ag data is going to have huge implications across every facet of agriculture, including crop insurance. We’re investing in the future of ag.”
Farmobile established one such partnership with AGCO last year through which AGCO customers would have the option to buy equipment that is pre-equipped with Farmobile’s technology.
A linchpin of this partnership is the belief by Farmobile that farmers should control their data – a notion that the majority of equipment producers and dealers don’t necessarily back.
“Some of them have a fairly closed ecosystem,” Tatge told GAI News. “They want you to make data compatible with other pieces of their equipment. But the majority of farmers out there are not 100 percent one brand. They are keen to buy the best pieces of equipment that fits their operation and that’s not always the same color.”
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