By @SimonCocking. Interesting interview with founder and CEO of Agrieye, Andrey Sevryukov.
Describe the company – the elevator pitch…
Agrieye helps farmers in North and South America to analyse the quality of soil, increase efficiency and cut costs by up to 30%. Using a drone equipped with cutting edge sensors, Agrieye produces detailed reports on plants and soil condition. Thanks to the high resolution we can provide data that is more accurate than that by satellite.
Our clients include small organic farmers and huge agricultural conglomerates in California, the New York area, Ecuador, Argentina, and Bolivia. We have recently completed a project for a family farm in Connecticut and a vineyard in Long Island. The University of Missouri offered Agrieye an R&D laboratory as a part of the $3.5 billion project to build the world’s biggest agritech center.
We are aiming to enter the Australian and Irish markets in 2018. Ireland is special as a whiskey producing country, and the key element for this is barley which is grown on the individual farms. I believe there is a big potential for Agrieye in Ireland.
How are you different?
Some agritech startups offer farmers drones to scan soil, others collect data. We do all these things, but our strength is artificial intelligence (AI) that provides recommendations to farmers on how to manage their fields.
Our business model is that farmers pay for the service only, and we give them our high quality, very light and easy to use drone for free. We recently ran a crash-test on a field: the drone was flown into the ground at a speed of 75 km/h. It wasn’t damaged so we consider our crash-test successful.
Our solution is so effective that American real estate mogul Larry Silverstein, known for rebuilding the World Trade Centre after the attack of 9/11, is interested in using it to analyse soil quality in his organic farm. We are now in talks with the Silverstein’s investment fund and looking to raise $500K for 8% of our business.
Why did the company/product do well?
From the very beginning, we’ve been developing our product with individual farmers in mind. Our team researched their business as well as the risks and problems they face. We thought of every tiny detail, made our solution easy to use and accessible for them. It’s been a long process, we had to pivot a couple of times but, in the end of the day, it was worth it. Both our software and hardware were created specifically for a farmer.
Where are you based?
Our developers and myself are originally from Ukraine, the company is registered in the U.S, and we are planning to move our R&D to Missouri by the end of the year. Our startup entered the American market only in the beginning of 2017. We participated in the acceleration program of Starta Accelerator based in New York, and just in 3,5 months managed to get huge traction in the U.S. and Latin America.
Tell us about your team?
We have excellent professionals in the different areas – robotics, machine vision, agronomy, and remote sensing – including five PhDs. Our software developers used to work with Toyota and Uber. We also managed to put together a strong advisory board that includes both agritech and business experts.
For example, our adviser Anatoliy Vostokov is one of the world’s leading experts in remote sensing. Actually, he used to be a military pilot in the Soviet times, but his helicopter was hit somewhere in Cuba, and he’s been specialising in the field of remote sensing since then.
What are your long term plans for your product/company?
We are planning to get 1.5% of the global remote sensing market by the end of 2018 and continue a rapid global expansion. We have started from the agriculture and family farms but later we’ll be looking into other areas, such as forestry. Our aim is to become the world’s strongest company in remote sensing.
What are your favourite tech gadgets?
Frankly speaking, as strange as it sounds I don’t like gadgets at all. I have a Getak laptop, which is used by the U.S. military and can work in extreme conditions. It’s pretty old and was written off by the army, that’s how I’ve got it. I’ve upgraded and modernised it myself. It’s waterproof and can manage drones easily.
How do people get in touch with you?