VitalFields raises $1.2m for farming mobile app expansion

The Estonian agtech start-up, which uses cloud-based software, raised the capital from the Estonian Development Fund and a local VC firm to expand its services across Europe.

VitalFields, an Estonian agtech company offering farmers cloud-based software and accompanying mobile apps to give farmers an overview of what is happening in their fields, has raised $1.2 million in Series A financing.

An undisclosed investor and SmartCap, an early stage venture capital firm which is the investment arm of the State-owned Estonian Development Fund, invested in the round, Martin Rand, co-founder of the company, told Agri Investor. The Series A follows a seed round in January 2014 when the company raised €500,000 ($544,255) from Wiser Financial Advisors, a private Estonian investment company that focuses on early-stage and seed investments, UK VC  firm TMT Investments, which concentrates on internet-based companies across a range of sectors and SmartCap. Individual investors include data scientist Andres Kull, former chief technical architect of Skype Ahti Heinla and Arvi Tavast, who invested in Estonian weather app WeatherMe.

VitalFields plans to use the funding to further product development and boost its presence across Europe; it currently operates in Poland, Ukraine, Germany and Estonia. Germany will be a major focus, Rand told Agri Investor.

The company, which was founded in March 2012, offers users detailed weather forecasts, plant disease forecasts, electronic field records and an overview of the field in its new app.

Rand told Agri Investor that several thousand European users have signed up for the app for free. They are mostly smaller farmers, and there are a few hundreds paid users too. “Customers engagement is really high and we have good retention rate,” Rand said. “About 89 percent of our users use [the app] in field operations and about 90 percent of our customers will come back to renew the app.”

The Estonian Development Fund was created by the Estonian parliament in April 2007 to initiate and support changes in the Estonian economy and society. The fund currently has five active investments in five companies; all investments are made at the seed or Series A stage.

Also based in Tallinn, SmartCap is a venture capital that makes seed and early stage venture investments. The firm has raised $16.5 million to date, according to CrunchBase records. It has 11 investments in eight companies.

“For SmartCap, VitalFields marks the presence in such a significant field of agriculture, which exhibits strong growth potential, which needs to be assisted by higher efficiency, for example by applying cutting-edge technological solutions,” Stanislav Ivanov, investment manager at SmartCap said in a statement. Ivanov said VitalFields has all the necessary ingredients to become an indispensable tool for farmers in Europe and elsewhere and it is important for SmartCap to be on board.