Slantrange

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Overview

Slantrange is a big data and analytics company focused on the agriculture sector that describes itself as an agricultural intelligence company.  They offer a SaaS analytical product for agriculture and advanced multi-spectral sensor systems meant to be mounted on drones.  Applications of their systems include detecting crop infections, vegetation stress, automatic crop counts, etc. 

Slantrange products are mostly sold to drone services companies who are then contracted by farmers for data analysis of their fields.  They make revenue through their SaaS software subscriptions and through selling the hardware sensors.

The team is based in San Diego, California and currently has approximately a dozen employees.

Why I like Them

There is a large opportunity ahead in digitizing agriculture and Slantrange is the premium provider of data analytics for the industry with best in class sensors.  Satellite systems cannot provide the resolution or yield of information on crop fields that drone based sensors systems do.  Slantrange takes advantage of this much richer data set using advanced data mining and analytics to offer detailed, actionable insights to farmers.  I like that the team's focus is on continuously extracting higher value data from sensor systems that no other offering can match.

Even with such a small team they already have a huge amount of traction selling in 20+ countries via 15+ distributors.  They also have a large amount of intellectual property around technology.

Disclosure:  I have spoken to members of the executive team.

Apeel Sciences

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Overview

Apeel Sciences is an agricultural technology startup that has created a chemical coating that prevents fruits and vegetables from spoiling.  The coatings, (named Edipeel and Invisipeel) are made from purely natural plant parts (leaves, stems) that can't be seen, smelled, or tasted and is human edible.  Invisipeel is applied while the crop is still in the field and Edipeel is applied post harvesting.  The effect of this coating is to increase the lifespan and freshness of a plant by up to 5x.  The team has some amazing time lapse videos showing the effect of their products here.

Apeel's coatings have been FDA approved and the company is based in Southern California.

Why I like Them

I like them because the technology and concept is just very cool.  Roughly 1/3 of food grown is lost due to spoilage (estimated to be $1T in the US alone).  Spoilage is caused by water loss. bacteria, and oxidation of a plant, and their coating prevents all three.  To date most solutions to crop spoilage and storage involve expensive refrigeration, gases, or harmful pesticides.  Crops from international markets can take up to 30 days to reach consumers which is why much of the produce we eat tastes bland and has low nutritional content (intensity of taste is a strong signal of nutritional content in produce).  This type of innovative product cuts costs, improve the consumer experience, reduces waste, and reduces the carbon and environmental footprint that the existing spoilage prevention technologies cause.

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.

Amber Agriculture

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Overview

Amber Agriculture is an agriculture technology startup focused on optimizing and managing crops in storage.  Post harvest grains are stored in giant silos until ready for transit.  Amber has developed pellet sized wireless sensors connected to the cloud that are distributed with the crops through storage all the way to ending up on grocery store shelves.  These sensors monitor moisture levels, carbon dioxide, temperature and chemical compounds in the air of the silos or shipping containers.  Their first application with this data is to automatically turn on and control fans to prevent crop spoilage and alert farmers of any issues with the crop.

The company is still early stage having recently launched several pilots for their product.  The team is based in Champaign, Illinois.

Why I like Them

Amber is part of the digitization wave sweeping the agriculture industry in the last five years that will allow humanity to feed itself with a rapidly growing global population.  As I have written several times on this blog I am a huge fan of using IoT for old world industrial type of processes to give real time data and allow optimization.  Even small amounts of moisture damage to a crop can lower the price dramatically and when scaled up to massive grain silos the potential savings of this product add up to the tens of thousands. 

This type of cheap, easy to distribute technology will be especially useful to farmers in emerging market countries with tougher climates where crop spoilage is a very severe issue and can financially ruin farmers.  India is a prime example where crop spoilage and rot is a severe threat to the food supply with an average harvest losing 30% of the crop.

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.

Granular

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Overview

Granular does cloud software and analytics to help manage farms.  It focuses on farm operational and financial management.  On the operational side Granular offers crop planning, inventories, farm equipment data collection, and worker schedules.  Customers have access to a mobile app that workers in the field access to get schedules and task lists.  It also tracks and calculates farm land values in real time based on market changes.  Granular integrates with farm's existing digital hardware and machines.  On the financial side Granular does profit analysis and forecasting based on the farm's contracts and crop yields.

Granular has an interesting history starting off as a tiny spinoff from a soil testing company called Solum.  The company makes revenue via a SaaS subscription model priced per acre managed.  The team is based in San Francisoco, California.

Why I like Them

Granular is tackling a large, deeply underserved market ($3T globally) that still uses paper and excel spreadsheets to manage its business.  In the US alone there are an estimated 40,000 farms.  The world's population is expected to grow by 1 billion in the next 9 years according to the United Nations - there will have to be leaps in agriculture efficiency to meet this demand and feed all these people.  As a SaaS business with a huge market, Granular has many years of growth ahead of it with few competitors.

Disclosure:  All information is from publicly available sources, I have not had any contact with a member of the company or its investors.

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