[Editor's Note] Milos Bezanov is a second year student currently studying International Politics at King’s College London.
Even for someone like me who's never worked on a farm in their life, it's not hard to imagine it being a pretty taxing work. Early hours, ploughing fields, maintaining livestock and ensuring crops produced are up to standard. Like any business, it requires control of many different aspects at any given time. Moreover, unlike most corporate professions where good performance is rewarded with more perks, good performance is rewarded with larger farms, more business...which means more work. How do you stay on top of everything going on? Matija Kopic, a Croatian student who grew up on a farm, noticed how his father struggled with this very issue. It was here that he, and a team of talented software developers came together in 2010 with an idea. By 2011 they had launched Farmeron, with the aim of breaking business down to Bitesize.
Farmeron, put simply it's a “Software as service solution that integrates different data sources existing on a modern farm into a single cloud database”. All Farmeron does is provide a platform that allows data to be efficiently analysed and broken down. A knock on effect of efficiency and speed, it’s greater ability to collect and store information, leading to more detailed “profiles” of your farm and everything that's going on. With Farmeron, farmers gain real time data on everything you need, from milk produced, to weight, medical issues of animals and in the process gain more criteria upon which to judge business performance. In short, it's an easier, faster and cheaper way of keeping track of relevant information, as well as expanding the amount of relevant info that can be stored. It does this by bringing “modern analytics” to a farming market which is constantly using more advanced hardware, but without. Armed with a good idea, a team with the technical ability to make the software work, and $15000, Farmeron set out on the journey to fulfil their ambitions.
Now, that journey seems to be going well. Farmeron recently secured $1.4 million in seed funding from Lee Hower of Netview Ventures and Jeff Clavier's softech VC. Since launch, 450 corporate farms are integrated into Farmeron. Added to this, they recently formed a partnership with German Neelseen Agrar, who deal in farm equipment in over 30 countries. This $1.4 million lump sum only tells part of the story however, as it includes several other investors; Dave McClure of 500 Statups and Robin Klein of TAG. The summer of 2011 gave Farmeron the breakthrough they needed. After setting up their AngelList profile, Naval Ravikant, the co-founder of AngelList spotted their business and was impressed with what he saw. In particular the fact that it was one of the first Eastern European startups to feature on the platform. This investment was no doubt a big boost, but presence on the platform would prove more valuable in the long term, as it was on this same platform that Dave McClure of 500 startups spotted them, leading to this big investment. For the moment, Farmeron want to focus on developing this idea, and are directing money towards more staff. Not surprising, given how popular it is.
Attracting this kind of investment this early on is something notoriously hard to do in the startup world. What makes it work? Lee Hower of Netview ventures gave us some insight; “ it (Farmeron) presented a unique opportunity as over 164 million farms worldwide now have internet access..and (there is) increasing demand for efficiency as the world population has crossed over 7 billion.” However, focussing on the idea neglects the people behind it, who in many cases, are more important. In the case of Farmeron, competency was not the question, as it already had fourteen countries using the platform. Several young people in Osijek, Croatia, came up with an idea better than most entrepreneurs in the UK and US, and managed to make it work with less resources. Proof of this fact is in their transition from Osijek to London, and then Silicon Valley. In short, breaking down business into bitesize is just part of their story. To fulfil their ambition, they had to break it down into bitesize first, and take it one step at a time. Osijek today, London tomorrow and Silicon Valley the day after, just don't ask them where they'll be next week.