Kitchener-Waterloo farm management software startup IntelliCulture has secured $1.7 million CAD in seed financing led by AgTech-focused Saskatchewan-based investor Emmertech.
The all-equity March round also drew participation from London, Ontario’s 519 Growth Fund, and a group of undisclosed strategic investors and industry experts that IntelliCulture founder and CEO Cole Powers described as technology and SaaS experts with a lot of product development experience.
“We’re working to build out our API so that we can work with a whole slew of different technology providers in the industry.”
IntelliCulture intends to use the seed capital to support its growing customer base and double its eight-person team within the next year.
“There’s a million and one challenges out there,” Powers told BetaKit in an interview. “Biggest one is just trying to keep up, but that’s why we’re raising capital … We’ve got a [number of] future requests that we want to build out for our growers.”
Founded in 2018 by Powers, Ramin Shaikhi, and Michael Wu, IntelliCulture uses Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are compatible with various makes, models, and years of farm machinery, and which collect data for IntelliCulture’s reporting and software.
IntelliCulture’s solution provides insights into spray coverage, operational health, and labour management. The startup claims that entire farms outfitted with their devices enable growers to better understand their spray coverage and efficiencies, as well as manage the upkeep of their assets.
As part of the round, Kyle Scott, the managing director of Conexus Venture Capital and Emmertech, and Joe Dales, co-founder and president of Agri & Food Innovation RH Accelerator are joining IntelliCulture’s board.
According to Powers, Scott brings a wealth of experience in financial and business growth. “That’s definitely going to add a lot of sophistication to us,” he said. “With that, the financing background, especially as we’re growing out the business across the United States and Canada, is really going to help hone in our team.”
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Emmertech is a $60 million CAD venture capital fund managed and operated by Conexus that makes early-stage investments in the AgTech sector. Through its lineup of agricultural industry investors, Emmertech hopes to broker partnership opportunities for its portfolio companies.
Meanwhile, Powers noted that Dales knows the ins and outs of agricultural marketing and overall strategies. “He’s groomed and sold a number of businesses in the AgTech ecosystem now,” said Powers.
IntelliCulture’s customer base includes growers across North America, ranging from small-town family operations to Fortune 500 wineries.
“Our beachhead and primary focus right now is in vineyards, so basically wineries,” said Powers. “The next natural step, and we’re already working with a lot of other high-value crops [like] cherries, apples, table grapes, and tree nuts. Beyond that, [we’re] seeing some uptake in the specialty space for in row crops, leafy green producers like spinach, lettuce, down in the central valley in California.”
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IntelliCulture provides its software on an annual subscription, per machine basis, targeting farms with more than 10 machines, many of which are still run, owned and operated by families but conducting larger operations.
In addition to IntelliCulture, Canada’s AgTech software space includes fellow upstarts Toronto-based Ukko Agro—which Emmertech has also invested in—as well as larger players like Vancouver’s Terramera and Semios, which Powers acknowledged as a competitor.
According to Powers, IntelliCulture’s solution is a “low friction and low barrier” solution that requires less installation and onboarding than other AgTech software offerings.
But rather than simply competing against other operators in the farming tech space, IntelliCulture hopes to work alongside them. “We’re working to build out our API so that we can work with a whole slew of different technology providers in the industry,” said Powers.
“I’m hoping our stance on integration capabilities and wanting to work with other players in the industry is one that’s getting more and more traction and I hope that’s going to better serve the growers,” Powers added.
Feature image courtesy IntelliCulture.