Today Ann Arbor, MI-based FarmLogs, a Y Combinator alum that provides software to help farmers plan, manage, and optimize their operations, announced that it has closed a $1 million seed funding round co-led by Huron River Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners, among other investors. It launched in early 2012 and to date has seen its software being used in six continents. With the funding secured, FarmLogs will look to grow its team and get ready to launch an updated version of its mobile applications in time for the 2013 planting season.
Co-founders Jess Vollmar and Brad Koch launched their own IT consulting firm before working on a project for Vollmar’s family, which is when they started getting interest from other farmers and recognized the growing need in the space. “We were working on a software for my family…as we were building this software for them to manage their grain inventory, a bunch of farmers found out about it and they were asking us when it would be ready,” said Vollmar. “That was kind of an interesting question…we were trying to get guys set up with better technology to help them run their business and we realized there really wasn’t anything good there for them.”
After talking to multiple farmers and seeing that their only options were existing software solutions like Farmworks, the duo went out to build something themselves. Looking to help row crop farmers go from paper records and spreadsheets to cloud software, the company provides a data dashboard that helps farmers keep tabs on their performance, and access maps, market prices, and weather conditions. They can also log activities like planting, fertilizing, and harvesting using the company’s mobile app and analyze it to make more informed decisions, all with the goal of improving the efficiency of their farms.
As for its business model, it charges $0.05 per acre on a monthly basis and $0.50 per acre on an annual basis. Vollmar said the company works with some of the biggest farms in the U.S. but that the average ends up somewhere around 2,500 acres.
Everyday farmers have seen relatively little activity from the software and technology industries looking to improve and streamline the management of their operations, giving FarmLogs plenty of opportunity to build out their base of customers. However, in the past BetaKit has also covered startup Farmeron when it raised its seed round to focus on helping farmers better manage their animal farms through a similar offering. Vollmar said the key difference for the company was its focus on row crops, not to mention providing simple cloud-based software that farmers can easily use without training.
Up next the company will be revamping and updating its mobile apps in time for the spring season, while hiring to add to its existing four-person team. It will also be looking at building out more predictive technology through aggregating and assessing the data it collects. With food production as of one of the main staples of any economy, companies like Farmlogs are one variable in providing the necessary tools to ensure farmers have the most up to date tools to meet the growing demand for their crops. Whether they can prove to farmers that technology is the key to a successful crop will likely be their biggest challenge, since they’re targeting an industry where smartphones are less important than hands-on experience.