Agritech leader, DataFarming launches Series A $5m cap raise
When Tim Neale started working in precision agriculture 20 years ago, decisions on crop management were made by taking measurements and making observations while physically out in the field. But the more time he spent in the paddock the clearer it became – one of the greatest opportunities for gains in production and productivity hovered in the skies above.
In 2017, Tim, with wife Peta, Co-founded DataFarming, an Australian precision agriculture company delivering digital solutions, most of which are driven by satellite imagery, to unlock the value of farm data for agronomists and producers.
The company now services more than 120,000 paddocks across 28,000 farming enterprises in Australia, and markets including the United Kingdom, South America, Africa and Europe. The technology driving DataFarming’s easy-to-use solutions can drill down to a 70-centimetre by 70-centimetre resolution.
To continue driving this success, DataFarming has launched its Series A $5 million capital raise on the growAG. platform to support the development of its product suite and scale globally. Learn more about this investment opportunity here.
“We've got a few products, including the cloud-based Digital Agronomist, which delivers satellite images to farmers every five days to help manage the variability they're dealing with, whether it's assessing crop yield in field or over time, or making decisions about fertiliser use,” said Tim.
“This helps identify what's causing production variability factors – and we've built tools like variable rate application to fix those problems.
“Almost every producer has an agronomist, but the ability for the agronomists to service more fields can be challenging. Technology can certainly assist agronomists and farmers to do a more thorough and faster job of checking crops.
“We have taken a consultancy business, which is high value, high cost and high touch point and we've turned that around completely into a light touch point, mass market and low price point digital platform.
“We are placing valuable, easy-to-use farm data into the hands of every agronomist and producer.”
Low investment stifles rate of tech development and adoption
After finishing university in 1995, Tim spent seven years with the Queensland Government promoting new technology and sustainable farming and noticed how slow industry could be to adopt innovation.
“DataFarming has been an evolution of technologies of the last 20 years and has really been driven by the frustration around poor adoption of technology with farming,” he said.
“Before we came along, only four per cent of farmers had actually looked at a satellite image of their property. Now we're at the stage of getting close to 40 per cent of the market using our platform.”
Tim puts that surge down to a failure in the tech industry.
“As an industry, we've been blaming farmers for lagging in technology adoption. We’ve blamed the user, but it's not the user who has failed. It's actually the technology's fault,” he said.
“Farmers have always been willing and able; they just haven't had it presented to them in the right format before. And that's largely because there's just not been enough people and investment in farming technology to date.
“The way I look at it is if I was to build a mobile phone for 40,000 people, it would be a substandard mobile phone. But if I build a mobile phone for 40 million people, or 400 million people, it's going to be a very good mobile phone.
“So, it's the same thing. Because there's only 40,000 customers for a particular precision agriculture product in Australia, there hasn't been the amount of money, investment or demand to actually do that. So, everything's sort of bootstrapped. And that's led to poor adoption rates among other things.”
Agritech industry begins to blossom through investment
Tim notes there has been a recent step-change, as more investment dollars have begun to stream into the farm sector.
“There's two things that have changed,” he said.
“Firstly, the whole world has become digitised. Secondly, the value that people are placing on data has increased. This is a big change that is driving the improvement of technology. Over the past 12 to 18 months, agriculture really has become the cool kid on the block.”
This fresh interest in the farm sector has also brought with it a stampede of start-ups and new entrepreneurs – all vying for investment dollars.
“In the past there hasn’t been a lot of agritech specific funds or investment brokers, they're covering all businesses and sectors." Recently, this all changed when Tim discovered AgriFutures Australia’s innovation marketplace, growAG.
“AgriFutures growAG. is filling a real gap in the market. There are other marketplace offerings around, but they haven't really worked for us,” he said.
“Since listing our commercial opportunity on growAG. in December 2021, we’ve generated more than a dozen very strong leads from private investors and VCs from both here in Australia and overseas, and, for little or no effort. In comparison, I have about 20 other leads that I'm working on, which have taken me years to accumulate.
“The interest has been so rapid over the past six months; it is sort of hard to believe that growAG. exists. I mean, the interest generated is incredible.”
Not only has DataFarming’s involvement with AgriFutures growAG. sparked new interest from the domestic and global investment communities, it’s also reinvigorated older engagement efforts.
“We have been in conversation with some major stakeholders for a long time, and now since our involvement with growAG., those conversations have accelerated and become a lot more serious,” said Tim.
“These organisations see our association with growAG. as another form of legitimacy, and business validation, which has enormous value.
Building on this momentum and as the company seeks to grow, it has set about using the platform to engage with technology and agriculture investors, agribusinesses, and VCs by listing its latest Series A investment round on the platform in July 2022.
“With 40 per cent market penetration in Australia, we are seeking to build more products, and release our platform globally,” said Tim.
“Promoting this opportunity on growAG. means it will be seen by a highly engaged audience.
“growAG. is local. It's agriculturally driven. It’s industry driven. It's there for the right reasons - and it's super helpful and supportive. So yeah, you’d be crazy not to be involved in it.”
Explore, find and connect with relevant research projects and innovation opportunities from across Australia’s agrifood innovation system at growag.com. To list a research project, commercialisation opportunity or organisation, please visit growag.com/submit.