While local and antiquated systems still facilitate much of the business in the agricultural space, technology startups are looking to bring the industry into the internet age. Farmers are increasingly turning to eCommerce to procure essential items, moving away from physical stores and regional farming cooperatives.
Technology startup FarmLead is part of this movement. The Ottawa-based company and has created an online marketplace platform that automatically connects buyers and producers of grain — and investors have taken notice.
FarmLead recently closed a $6.5 million Series A round of venture funding led by Monsanto Growth Ventures with participation from Avrio Ventures, the MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund and Serra Ventures. To date, FarmLead has raised $7.29 million, including prior input from angel investors.
“We see FarmLead as a tool that creates optionality for farmers. That’s what is most important to us. But their platform also gives buyers more choices,” Monsanto Growth Ventures director Kiersten Stead was quoted as saying. “They can create a large portfolio of vendors to work with and get access to a more diverse set of crops than what they had before.”
Investors expect that FarmLead will use the funds to fuel additional hires, marketing and continued product development for the North American market, though cofounders Brennan Turner and Alain Goubau reportedly also have additional long-term goals in mind — including enabling the transformation of the international grain trade.
But there’s still more work to be done stateside, especially now that rural America is more connected than ever.
In 2007, only about one-third of people living in rural areas had access to broadband internet versus almost half of urban populations, according to the Pew Research Center. But according to the numbers as of last November, broadband internet had reached some 63 percent of rural residents in the U.S., compared to 73 percent of people in cities.