European venture capital investors Anterra Capital has led a $5.5 million Series A round into agri data start-up Farmobile. A family office in Farmobile’s home state of Kansas added to its initial 2014 investment.
Farmobile was targeting funding equity of $6 million, according to a November Securities and Exchange Commission filing from the company.
Anterra partner Dudley Haws confirmed to Agri Investor that the raise was related: “A combination of existing investors and Anterra Capital account for $5.5 million. The remaining $0.5 million was circled for another local investor. That investor has a few more weeks to conclude their process,” he said.
Haws told Agri Investor that the main shareholders are now Farmobile’s management, the Kansas family office and Anterra Capital.
The financing will be used to develop and distribute new systems and software on top of the company’s current “dirt to database” platform.
Farmobile aims to captures and streams data through tractors, irrigation systems, and other smart machinery so that it can be cross-compared and analysed. This could mean taking data collected by different companies and brands. But the company will also allow farmers to protect the data they share with Farmobile’s cloud, so that the farmers will own their own data and be able to sell to third parties.
Farmobile’s model of cross-referencing data and allowing farmers to own and sell what they collect for big data platforms means it is operating in an extremely competitive environment. Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz have backed another agri data start-up, Granular, and Monsanto bought data science company The Climate Corporation in 2013 for $930 million.
These companies have prompted the US’s Farm Bureau to say they “believe farmers own information generated on their farming operations”.
“Data is one of the most valuable things a farmer harvests today,” said Farmobile founder and chief executive Jason Tatge in a press release, calling the raise a “huge win for farmers around the world.
“Farmers ought to own and directly profit from the information they produce. It’s that simple.”
Asked about how competitive Farmobile is, Haws told Agri Investor: “We liked the fact that Farmobile set out to be collaborative and that they would not compromise on providing farmers with clear data ownership terms as part of an independent service. This proved to be a good jumping-off point and certainly something we can scale in the current environment.”
Haws said Anterra learned about Farmobile 18 months ago at an agricultural conference in St Louis. He said they “followed their progress for about a year before visiting their office in Kansas and starting an investment process.”