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Farmeron raises $1.4M to bring cloud services to farmers

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Agricultural SaaS company Farmeron has raised $1.4 million in seed funding. The company brings mobile analytics to one of the most unusual cloud services users — farmers.

Farmeron hopes to replace overwhelming spreadsheets used by most farmers to track farm operations data. The software has been used by farmers in Southeast Europe since its launch in November 2011.

Lee Hower of NextView Ventures and Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC today led the round, with participation from Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp, Dave McClure of 500 Startups and Robin Klein of TAG. The full press release is below.

Farmeron Raises $1.4 Million in Seed Funding

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA / OSIJEK, Croatia – May 8, 2012 – Farmeron Inc., one of the world’s first agricultural SaaS companies to bring the modern farmer’s fragmented sources of production data to the cloud, announced the close of its $1.4 million seed round co-led by Lee Hower of NextView Ventures and Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC today. Already being used by farmers in fourteen countries since launching in November 2011, Farmeron is bringing modern analytics to both small and large farms, in part due to the expanding global reach of AngelList and the founders’ unique story.

Founder Matija Kopic’s inspiration for Farmeron began on the large crop farm in Croatia where he was born and raised. Kopic watched his father struggle daily to manually maintain an overwhelming amount of farm production data essential to the farm’s management, and he recognized that even the best farmers were overwhelmed, using thousands of spreadsheets with dedicated analysts to manage their complex operations. “Even today, the process is so inefficient that an average modern dairy farmer owning 300 milking cows must spend at least 90 minutes per day creating manual data records and calculating production metrics to analyze the farm’s efficiency and profitability. This generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs. Without having the proper data management infrastructure, farmers easily miss hidden knowledge in raw production data, leading to misguided interpretations of their production cycles and associated costs,” said Kopic.

Kopic noted that while technological advances in farming hardware have increased the amount of low-level raw production data available (often being collected on single-animal level), disparate data sources on the modern farm add to the complexity without an easy way to aggregate, display and analyze this data. By integrating Farmeron, currently a livestock production SaaS solution that integrates different data sources existing on a modern farm into a single cloud database, with advanced farming machinery (e.g. milking machine), time-consuming data retrieval, recording and management is cut by 60 %.
Kopic’s global aspirations for Farmeron led him to seek funding from leading investors in the US and Europe. His pursuits brought the team from Croatia to London, where Farmeron has won Seedcamp’s investment, and eventually, to Silicon Valley. In addition to NextView Ventures and SoftTech VC, Farmeron’s previous investors Reshma Sohoni of Seedcamp, Dave McClure of 500startups and Robin Klein of TAG also participated in the $1.4M seed round. Naval Ravikant of AngelList is leading the group of angels backing farmer hackers in their latest round. Back in the summer of 2011, Dave McClure spotted Farmeron soon after Kopic created his AngelList profile. Kopic also met AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant, who took notice of Farmeron given its status as one of the first Eastern European startups on AngelList in addition to the founders’ story of being a farmer hacker. The attention of these two early investors helped pave the way for the Croatian startups journey to the US. Other prominent angels – Evan Nisselson of LDV Capital, Niko Hrdy and Taavet Hinrikus – also participated. Funding will be used to hire key management team members and to staff sales and support teams both in US and Europe. Farmeron’s software development team is located in Osijek, Croatia.

Lee Hower of NextView Ventures: “While at first glance an investment in Farmeron may seem unusual for early stage seed investors like ourselves, agriculture & food remains one of the most important global industries. Farmeron presented a unique and untapped opportunity for a cloud-based SaaS solution as over 164 million farms worldwide now have internet access coupled with the increasing demands for agriculture to become more efficient as the world population has crossed over 7 billion people.”

Since initially launching its first web farm management tool in November 2011 to handful of farms in Southeast Europe (primarily Croatia), Farmeron has spread to more than 450 farms in 14 countries in the last five months. These early beta customers have allowed Farmeron to learn about specifics of agricultural production across markets. Furthermore, Farmeron has already begun to compile a centralized dataset to mine new knowledge about production practices across different farms and markets. Farmeron also recently closed a major distribution partnership with Germany-based Neelsen Agrar GmbH, one of the world’s leading animal husbandry and farm logistics companies that is active in developing and operating dairy super farms. The deal provides Farmeron with additional distribution to farmers in more than 30 countries served by Neelsen Agrar GmbH.