“CEE Star of the Week“ is our weekly series of short stories where we present a company from Central and Eastern Europe that has recently achieved something significant – closed an investment round, won a prize, successfully launched on a new market, made a prominent hire, etc. The stories can be found both on trendingtopics.at and trendingtopics.eu.
What is the cost of producing environmentally friendly agricultural products that are an essential part of our everyday life? Most often, farmers have to sacrifice the benefits from a larger yield in order to produce sustainably. Keeping in mind other factors such as the ever-changing weather conditions and the peculiarities of the different fields, farmers must make the most balanced decision in order to optimize gains.
The tech world already has a number of solutions to these problems. As SaaS platforms optimize the process of decision making in farming, managing an agricultural business has become a little less complicated and more profitable compared to ten years ago. Today, we are going to talk about one of the startups that offer such farming management software. Our star of the week is Agrivi, a Croatian startup that strives to guarantee profitable, yet sustainable yields to farmers. Its solution helps agricultural producers maximize gains, protect crops, and yield timely through automated insect pest and disease detection for every field. The company founder and CEO Matija Zulj shared his motivation to create the company and talked about its progress, the challenges faced, as well as about the news around its recent €4M investment round.
What does the investment round mean for your start-up and what do you expect to achieve with the raised money?
In the previous period, we made a significant growth of our customer portfolio, strengthened the company management, and created a solid ground for the next level of scaling. The investment round is the result of our previous successes on the market and we decided that now is the right time to speed up the expansion.
Our farm management platform is now at the level of maturity where it serves the requirements of the leading organizations in the agri-food industry globally. Now is the time for bringing it to as many customers as possible, so expansion is the primary goal of the round.
Trending Topics: What is unique about your product and how does it solve the problems of your clients?
Matija Zulj: We focus on solving problems in the agri-food value chain having in mind farmer’s challenges and challenges of an industry that works closely with farmers. Our technology supports farmers in making their crop production profitable while making their life easier. We support them in making the entire farm operations efficient, mitigating risks of yield loss, applying practices that are compliant with food safety, quality and sustainability standards, and much more. We often see our farmers doubling their profit margin as a result of cost control, risk mitigation, timely and right decisions. Besides farmers, we work with other organizations from the agri-food value chain, like food companies, retail companies, agribusiness banks, insurances, and other stakeholders that collaborate with farmers.
How was the idea of Agrivi born and was there an identifiable market demand in the beginning?
The story of AGRIVI began when I decided to leave the corporate ICT world and dedicated the time and effort to solving the global food problem. First, I decided to become a farmer myself to understand what it exactly means to grow crops and he planted my own blueberry farm. Very soon I experienced the real farmer’s world – I couldn’t access the best practice knowledge for growing blueberries and there was no simple, yet affordable software on the market that could help me make data-driven decisions. At the time, in 2013, I have founded AGRIVI with a vision to change the way food is produced in its core and positively impact one billion lives by helping farmers reach sustainable, resource-efficient, and profitable production. That was the moment when AGRIVI as a company was born. We immediately started to gather an experienced team of agricultural experts and software engineers that have backgrounds in farming families and are eager to disrupt the food industry. Driven by beliefs that knowledge and technology support must be available to all agricultural producers worldwide, we built knowledge-based software solutions that help all agricultural producers to optimize production by enforcing agricultural best practices, protect crops and yield timely through automated insect pest and disease detection for every field and live better by achieving sustainable and profitable agricultural production.
What is your business model?
Our farm management platform is used by the professional grower segment. AGRIVI as a company works directly primarily with large growers and we reach small and medium-sized growers through the value chain. We are happy that today we support great customers like Driscoll’s, Nestle, Kimberly Clark, BNP Paribas, and many others.
We are a B2B Software-as-a-Service company and our revenue comes from subscriptions for our products.
What have been the hurdles and challenges from the beginning? What challenges do you expect for the next 12 months?
The biggest challenge from the beginning is change management – changing the habit of making decisions based on intuition towards data-driven and fact-based decision making. Agritech is a new market and we are building a new product category. We are happy that the education stage of the market is done, farmers know that there are actual benefits from using the farm management software. I like to use the analogy of the gym – everybody knows that regular exercise is very good for your health and will bring you major benefits, but it is hard to start and even harder to keep doing it. That’s why we put a lot of focus on our customer success team that supports our customers in addressing this challenge.
What are the future plans for your company?
Our focus in 2021 is to strengthen our market-leading position in Europe, increase the market share in our target segment in the USA, and build up partnerships for other regions. On the product innovation side, our focuses are on predictions based on AI-driven insights, data collection automation, and compliance with food safety, quality, and sustainability standards.
Our farm management platform is now at the level of maturity where it serves the requirements of the leading organizations in the agri-food industry globally. Now is the time for bringing it to as many customers as possible, so expansion is the primary goal of the round. Our customers come from over 100 countries, where Europe and the USA represent the most of our customer base.