By Heather Clancy: Most independent farmers have amassed plenty of historical knowledge about their own land. Far fewer have access to external metrics that could help them make better management decisions, such as how new seeds may perform or other practices that could improve their harvests.
Enter agriculture tech startup Farmers Business Network (FBN), which at its heart is a social networking community for independent agricultural businesses.
Founded by a former Google program manager and a venture capitalist with a background in agriculture, FBN has disclosed a new $15 million funding round led by Google Ventures, along with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DBL Investors. The new money brings the Silicon Valley company close to $28 million in total backing.
Growing an emerging market
The new funding will be used to expand the platform’s presence in other states, and to increase the sorts of data that can be interpreted.
“It’s really surprising how advanced and sophisticated a lot of farm equipment is,” Baron said. “A lot of onboard computers are collecting information about what’s taking place in the field. … If you can integrate those data sets, you can generate vast new insights about what’s taking place and why.”
Nancy Pfund, founder and managing partner of the San Francisco-based venture capital and impact investor DBL Investors, was inspired to invest after literally running into the cofounders on a San Francisco street. After listening to a few minutes of their pitch, she set a meeting.
DBL was an early investor in Tesla and SolarCity and supports emerging companies that could disrupt industries socially, economically and environmentally. Pfund believes FBN could inspire a new age of sustainable agricultural entrepreneurship.
“It’s all about helping farmers stay on their land, make a good livelihood and address a much larger challenge to feed the world,” Pfund said.
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