Startup of the Day: Estonian farm management software eAgronom
Founded in 2016 by Robin Saluoks and Stenver Jerkku, eAgronom develops farm management software that is aimed to help grain farmers make better and more profitable decisions by providing real-time crop monitoring from fields, automated reporting, crop and yield plans, farm activity schedules, and more. To date, the startup has already raised €10.1 million in backing from investors and acquired more than 1,500 paying farm customers covering over a million hectares of land across Europe.
In the Startup of the Day column, co-founder and CEO of eAgronom Robin Saluoks shares details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.
“The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.”
Tell us about your startup. How does it work?
eAgronom is a climatetech company accelerating the shift towards net-zero by building the infrastructure and ecosystem to bring climate benefits to farmers.
eAgronom helps farmers future-proof the farm with diversified income streams. The startup’s farm management software, AI, and remote sensing technologies help grain farmers make better and more profitable decisions by providing real-time crop monitoring from fields, automated reporting, crop and yield plans, farm activity schedules and more.
- The company’s consultancy service offers advice on building future-proof, regenerative farms that receive income from restoring soils by producing carbon credits.
- eAgronom’s partner ecosystem provides farmers with assistance through various channels. Through eAgronom’s GHG monitoring, data verification and program certification capabilities, financial institutions are able to reshape their loan portfolio by providing more favourable terms to farmers who are EU taxonomy aligned.
- eAgronom’s soil health monitoring capacity allows landowners to bring a Sustainable Land Management Programme to tenants and reward sustainable practices. The eAgronom carbon programme offers carbon pre-payments to help farmers kick-start their regenerative farming journey.
How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?
The beginnings of eAgronom were quite accidental and came about when my father broke his computer and as a result lost all ability to manage the farm business. Since I was still studying computer science at university, I programmed the first version of a SaaS-based farm management software for my father’s exclusive use. However, other farmers got wind of it and wanted to start using it too.
Recognising my own limitations, I asked Stenver Jerkku to help program a scalable product. He immediately saw the potential of eAgronom as part of a much bigger story of building a cleaner environment and a healthier world by helping farmers achieve their financial goals. Everything we have done since and will do in the future has these principles at the core.
How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?
The first MVP was built in just 20 days and within six months, 70 percent of the local grain market was using the platform. While farmers were very excited and keen to get on board, in the early days our product was very much a work in progress and developed over time according to countless feedback we got from our customers.
The important thing for us operating in the farming community was building a product that was easy to use by absolutely everyone, since the majority of farmers are over the age of 50 and don’t tend to interact with technology day in day out. To be able to address their very needs, we put a great deal of effort into direct relationships with our customers.
When exactly did you launch your product?
Our first product launched in October 2016.
Tell us about the stratup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?
As well as our bread and butter farm management capabilities, today our software also provides the ability to conduct greenhouse gas emissions monitoring, data verification and certification, which are important elements for assessing how sustainable a farm is. We charge farmers for our software and consultancy services, with price depending on farm size.
While we still approach new farmers and landowners directly, our partner ecosystem — which we are constantly expanding – refers new customers to us. These include a wide range of organizations including financial institutions, equipment manufacturers and consultancies. Most recently, we have signed agreements with South Pole, Swedbank and Dojus Agro.
What are your target markets and consumers?
We have been heavily focused on operations in the Baltics and Poland from pretty much the word go, but are taking some steps into other parts of Europe and also Africa. Our end-users are farmers, and we have partnerships with organizations in the agricultural ecosystem including financial institutions, equipment manufacturers, landowners and consultancies.
If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.
eAgronom has over €10 million in backing from investors and has more than 1,500 paying farm customers covering over a million hectares of land across Europe.
What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.
We have around 65 employees with currently no open vacancies. At eAgronom we are lucky we have a brilliant team with diverse skills and a get-up-and-go attitude who are able to adapt quickly to change and enjoy the fast-paced nature of the business. We take good care during the recruitment process to find a good fit with our company culture.
Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.
We have so far raised a total of €10.1 million in funding over four rounds.
- The 2018 seed round raised €1 million and included investments from Trind Ventures, TMT Investments, Specialist VC, LIFT99, Black Pearls VC and Andrus Purde, as well as €500,000 from our existing farm customers. This round helped us with product development and regional expansion.
- Two years later, in 2020, we raised another €1.2 million in seed investment from Taavi Tamkivi, Superangel, Martin Villig, Iron Wolf Capital and Cats.vc.
- In 2022, we received a €580,000 grant from the European Union, as well as raising a further €6.4 million that included ZGI Capital and Yolo Investments as lead investors with participation from Trind Ventures, Superangel, Specialist VC and Iron Wolf Capital. This round has helped us build out our carbon program proposition, build out our partner ecosystem and focus on our product development.
What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.
We are hard at work building out our partner ecosystem, especially around sustainability-linked-loans and carbon credit pre-payment mechanisms, to improve the livelihoods of farmers and enable them to embrace regenerative farming.
In our continued pursuit of scaling sustainable agriculture around the world, we have also recently introduced our carbon program in Africa, initially launching in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, with more countries to follow in near future.
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