Startup of the Day: Ukrainian agritech FarmFleet

FarmFleet was founded by Valerii Iakovenko, Fevzi Ametov, and Vladimir Gaplik in late 2021. The first product was released on the market in August 2022. The startup develops an ERP system for the companies that are using robotics in agriculture. It is also a tool for farmers to secure allocation of the resources to perform technological operations.

The first product was drones responsible for plant protection. According to the founders, they managed to spray 6000 hectares of Ukrainian farmers using FarmFleet platform and to attract 15 service companies in Ukraine. In June 2023, the startup raised $550,000, with a valuation of $3.7 million. Currently, FarmFleet is aiming to get $10-20 million turnover and to increase the team in its US branch.  

In the Startup of the Day column, Valerii Iakovenko, co-founder of FarmFleet, shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

FarmFleet is a software startup, a platform, and it is an ERP system for the companies that are using robotics in agriculture to provide services to the farmers. On the other hand, it is a tool for farmers to secure allocation of the resources to perform technological operations when it is needed

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

We are working with drones and robotics for the past 10 years, and agriculture in Ukraine became one of our favorite industries. In past 3 years a segment of crop protection technologies appeared on the market and Ukraine became one of the global leaders in the speed of technology integration.

The modern farmer doesn’t want to spend hundreds of thousands on the machinery that works 10 days in a year – he wants to hire a professional service and not waste time and money on expenses to maintain machinery that stay in a barn. This is a story of resource management and a tool for the young agriculture companies to evolve robotics as a service idea into powerful businesses.

If you can better understand your own possibilities, plan your work ahead, use weather data on top of your planning – you can make additional 20% volume of operations in the same period of time and increase your pure efficiency. In realty, it is not about drones, it is about all technological operations.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

We spent 6 months to create MVP, and released the product just before autumn agriculture season. The product was developed in a very hard times, during full-scale russian invasion, and a part of our team was deployed, but work continued even when our colleagues were on eastern frontline.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

Farmfleet started to work in late August 2022, just before the largest crop protection season started in Ukraine. We managed to spray 6000 hectares of Ukrainian farmers using FarmFleet platform.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

Since the platform delivers direct finance benefits for its users, there are several ways of monetization, from the subscription model, to the commission of the jobs provided for service operations, and since everything in agriculture is being calculated per hectare or per acre – there is a fee per each hectare of performed jobs. Depending on the type of user, the monetization is different.

However, this is about Ukrainian experience, when we are talking about global expansion and United States as a first international market – the business model will be not the same, since pain points of American farmers and not the same, and the products itself must be redesigned.

What are your target markets and consumers?

We are looking into market of agriculture service using robotics, and the first market to expand will be United States of America, where we want to learn more about functionality and possibility to evolve faster and become global startup. At the same time, Ukraine remains our main market where we have a head office.

The new businesses in agriculture in the US are opening up, and we want to help them work more efficiently, safer. At the end we want to grow more food and spend less resources, not only for monetary interested, but because of sustainable future that we help to create. Drones and robotics saves water, fuel, manpower and help to reduce pesticides usage during each application.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

We managed to attract 15 service companies in Ukraine and cover 6000 hectares of service, our end goals are to obtain a share in all plant protection operations on the region that we cover. In terms of financial indicators to be achieved before next round, – we are looking to get $10-20 million turnover.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Currently, Farmfleet team has 20 members, we have our own service teams, project leads. In next months we plan to increase hire more personnel in the USA for our US branch, and we are planning to increase our developers team in Ukraine.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

Farmfleet was created using our own investments, and we have just received a pre-seed investment of $550,000 with evaluation $3.7 million.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

We plan to expand not only in geography, we plan to cover more technological operation. It is not only plant protection stage and not about drones, only – robotics as a service in agriculture is far bigger. FarmFleet has to become a center of this ecosystem.