Big Data AgriTech Agroop Doubles Investment Sought On Seedrs

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Portuguese AgriTech Agroop has more than doubled its investment goals of 200.009 Euro. We spoke to CEO Bruno Fonseca about the future of agriculture and rising competition in the market.

How would you describe Agroop in a few words?

Agroop is a big data platform made to help farmers and agronomic agents to be more productive.

Big Data AgriTech Agroop Doubles Investment Sought On SEEDRSWhat inspired you to create the big data platform? How did it all start?

It all started when I was finishing my Master’s degree in Communication Design and I was working on a rebranding for a farmer. Part of the communication designer’s task is knowing the customer’s business in a 360 degrees view and it was exactly this understanding that made me realize the importance of a solution like Agroop.

I began to study the challenges and limitations of that specific farmer and soon understood that they were much more transversal to the farming sector. This was the start for Agroop.

To complement your software tools you’ve also developed hardware: Stoock. What can you tell us about the product, what is it capable of?

This product is an auto-sufficient and multi-sensor device which collects soil moisture and temperature at different depths, solar radiation, air temperature and humidity. Through the access to these parameters and our algorithms, we are helping farmers and agronomic agents to monitor the water needs of their crops and prevent risk factors such as pests, diseases, and fungus. Another important aspect is the fact that this device can easily be installed by the end user, allowing Agroop to keep scalability as a central characteristic.

In 2016, the agricultural sector has seen the most deals closed to date – the competition is rising. What makes Agroop stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

In fact, there is an increasing number of competitors appearing in this market and we are paying attention to the value propositions offered by them. In terms of technology, all startups have similar access to resources and exactly for that reason, the biggest competitive advantages aren’t related to technology differentiation, but user interface, the simplicity of usage and scalability.

All our solutions are being developed taking these three aspects into account. As a big data solution, the most important thing is having access to a vast amount of information and, in order to accomplish that, it is fundamental to reach the critical mass sufficient to support the data layer. Having products with these three characteristics will represent fewer entropies and barriers to the users and, consequently, it will be easier to conquer more, speeding up the traction.

We’ve recently featured you in our Breakdown on Startup Driven Innovation in agriculture. Which cutting-edge technologies will this sector experience in the near future?

It is very important to add other parameters to a device, allowing us to develop more advanced, accurate and complementary algorithms. However, it is equally important to keep the simplicity and scalability of the solution in order not to compromise traction.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

Building a strong and complete team is one of the biggest challenges, not only because it is getting more difficult to find specialized people in some areas (developers, data analysts, etc.) but mainly because it’s always difficult to find people with a perfect combination of hard and soft skills. Access to the investment is also a big challenge, in our perspective,

Access to investment is also a big challenge. From our perspective, a European startup is facing a more conservative mindset from European investors and the majority of North American investors only invest in North American startups or ones that intend to operate in the US from its initial stages. Our conclusion was to launch a Seedrs campaign, offering equity to people who genuinely believe in our products and services. So far, we’ve reached 433.472 Euro (Ed, as of September 7) from the 200.009 Euro we initially sought.

So, if there was one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – would that be it?

Yes. We need investors with a less conservative mindset. Many interesting startups fail even before having the chance to develop and launch their products. It isn’t supposed to be like that. Failing is part of the ecosystem and we need investors with more propensity for risk.

What’s next for Agroop?

In the near future, our biggest focus is on the commercial spectrum, promoting and selling our solutions in some strategical markets. After some stability in those markets, Agroop will seek Series A investment to expand our solution to other markets. In terms of product development, we will continue to improve our solutions as well the data analysis layer built through them.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Resilience is the number one characteristic that a founder should have. Every day holds challenges and obstacles and only a driven, resilient and passionate person will have the energy and the strength to overcome them.

For us, is also important to have the following sentence in mind: “fail fast, fail cheap, learn faster”. In the entrepreneurial ecosystem, everything is about speed execution and the ability to learn as fast as you can, without being afraid of making mistakes.




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