Startup of the Day: Estonian space tech KappaZeta

Founded in 2015 by Kaupo Voormansik, Tanel Tamm, Kalev Koppel, and Karlis Zalite, KappaZeta offers services for analyzing radar satellite data to help farmers, improve profitability, and enhance the quality of agricultural products. Besides agriculture, it also offers services for national governments and other Earth Observation companies. Earlier this month, the startup raised €480,000 from Estonian and British angel investors.

In the Startup of the Day column, the co-founders of KappaZeta shares more 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?

We receives images from Synthetic Aperture Radar observations combined with cloud-free optical images to help governments and companies to keep an eye on their assets, reducing the need for expensive field surveys. Our technology also helps to detect various plant types and identify crop types by their temporal signature via phenology (cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena).

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

It was born out of a project and a client. We were researchers helping Estonian government to monitor agricultural land and at one point the work grew so big and the needs of the client so large that we decided to establish a company. Since the work as more than just applied research, there was a need for reliable operational services.

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

About 2 years, a lot of hard work and need for additional data for large scale testing. Our research phase ground reference data was not enough, we needed to test in far larger scale.

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

In 2018 we launched our grassland mowing detection service for whole Estonia. One year later than we originally wanted to launch, but it was still the first in European country to apply satellite data for agricultural subsidy checks in a country-wide manner.

What are your target markets and consumers?

We are the service provider for national governments (insurance, forestry, defence, open-area mining, and environmental protection compamies) and other Earth Observation companies. It is either data or information as a service, B2G and B2B.

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

We have over €200,000 of commercial revenue every year from operational services provision and about more than €400,000 from R&D projects.

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

Currently, we have 16 people in our team and are looking for an experienced machine learning engineer/ data scientist.

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

We’ve recently received €480,000 in funding from a group of investors: a co-founder of Starship Technologies, Ambient Sound Investments, HD Forest, EST Kinnisvara, NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Estonian Research Council, Better Medicine, Voog, Sixfold, and the Estonian Business School Group.

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

We will build a constellation of companion satellites, which will make Sentinel-1 data three-dimensional to create a global and frequently updated data set about forest biomass and carbon stock.