Sydney-based farm management software startup AgriWebb has secured a $14 million investment, with an acquisition on the side, for a minority stake in the business.
As well as the funding from the UK-based agriculture investment company Wheatsheaf Group, AgriWebb will receive FarmWizard, a UK provider of livestock and dairy management software, which it has acquired from Wheatsheaf as part of the deal.
Launched in 2014 by US-born co-founder and chief executive Kevin Baum, along with co-founders Justin Webb and John Fargher, AgriWebb is a cloud-based software-as-a-service livestock management platform designed to “digitise the notebooks that sat in the top pockets of Australian farmers”, Baum tells StartupSmart.
The platform digitises recordkeeping and takes audit and compliance data to help farmers make better decisions and improve productivity. According to Baum, farmers using the platform have seen up to a 20% uplift in productivity.
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Globally, AgriWebb is now used on 2700 farms, 1700 of which are in Australia, and the startup has seen average revenue growth of about 10% month-on-month.
While Baum doesn’t reveal exactly how much stake Wheatsheaf has taken in the business, he says it’s close to the 30% mark.
It was Wheatsheaf that approached AgriWebb with the offer, Baum says. The group is a “very ag-focused investor”, and was actively looking for an opportunity in this particular space.
Baum says it was flattering that “a company on the other side of the world sees the value of this”.
The acquisition of FarmWizard further sweetened the deal, offering a “very complementary product suite”, with a focus on dairy and individual animal management.
It’s “exciting to have that foothold in the UK,” he says.
“We have global aspirations,” he adds.
The $14 million is pegged for investment in improving the product, and integrating the AgriWebb and FarmWizard products to cater to a “breadth of needs for farmers”, Baum says.
“We have a huge emphasis on building out an exceptional development team,” he adds.
“We want to keep investing in our product and making it as good as we can.”
AgriWebb also plans to invest in what it calls its “success” teams, developing the support service so staff can “not just answer questions but proactively go out and help farmers get more support,” Baum says.
The startup has a churn rate of less than 0.5% — something Baum is proud of and would like to maintain, and which “shows we are adding value to farmers”, he says.
Baum’s best piece of advice for other startup founders is to not make assumptions about users, and to “get out and get to know them … and understand their pain point”.
There’s a misnomer that farmers aren’t interested in new technologies, but actually, “farmers don’t like bad tech,” Baum says.
“A lot of legacy systems out there have been forced on them,” he says.
AgriWebb has had “an amazing reaction from the market around the software,” he adds, and the more success the startup has had, the more Baum has realised there is a demand for modern systems that work.
“Adopt best practice,” Baum advises.
“Do what works … do what other great software products do.”
Farmers are just “savvy business people who run good businesses and want good tools,” he says.
“What we want to do is build tools that help them do what they do best — that help take the focus off record-keeping and the onerous parts of the job,” Baum adds.
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