The New Stuff

An eBay for grain-trading, FarmLead, raises $6.5 million Series A


Farmers work to feed the world. Yet somehow, corn, wheat and rice sales are still happening at a local level through antiquated paperwork and phone negotiations. Now, an Ottawa-based startup called FarmLead has raised $6.5 million in venture funding to connect grain producers and buyers automatically online, and help farmers get fair prices for what they grow. The platform is something like an eBay for grains.

Monsanto Growth Ventures led the Series A deal joined by Avrio Ventures, the MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund and Serra Ventures. MGV Investment Director Kiersten Stead said, “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. 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.”

After they set up a free account, growers or buyers can post sell or buy offers on FarmLead, browse existing offers, sort offers by location or other terms, and engage in negotiations. The company generates revenue through transactional fees. The FarmLead app also includes a “forward contracting service and escrow payment option,” which helps growers sell to buyers based on their projected grain yield. Knowing they’ve locked in a buyer helps farms better manage their finances. And for buyers, committing early can help score a good deal.

FarmLead has focused on the North American market, but co-founders Brennan Turner and Alain Goubau often talk about transforming the international grain trade. A growing world population, combined with economic growth throughout Asia, South America and the Middle East, has helped drive demand for grains in recent years. Meanwhile, wheat consumption has generally declined in the US since the 90’s.

Hopefully the adoption of online marketplace and financial technology in agriculture will reduce post-harvest loss and waste of food. “Low capacities to adopt innovations or respond o changing consumption patterns contribute to the post-harvest loss of 1.3 billion [metric] tons of food waste each year,” according to the 2016 Global Food Report from the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Investors expect FarmLead to use their funding for hiring, especially in their Chicago office, marketing, and continued product development. “We simply want them to keep making it easier to buy and sell grains,” Stead said.

Featured Image: Famartin/Wikimedia Commons UNDER A CC BY-SA 4.0 LICENSE

Recently Published

»

TechCrunch Tel Aviv Pitch-Off: Here are your startups and judges!

 On June 28 in Tel Aviv, we’re hosting the TechCrunch ...

»

VC Justin Caldbeck raised funding in email to accuser ahead of scandal breaking

 TechCrunch has reviewed an email allegedly sent by VC Justin ...

»

Houzz raises a huge $400M round at a $4B valuation

 If you ask investors in Silicon Valley about Houzz — an ...

»

Binary Capital reportedly delays closing new fund amid controversy

 In the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and the ...

»

Headstart wants to better analyze candidates to fit them with the best jobs

Nicholas Shekerdemian has a pretty typical startup story: he dropped ...

»

Relevnt launches a publisher-centric news app

Florida startup Relevnt is experimenting with a new ...

»

5 burning questions Blue Apron’s IPO is about to answer

Blue Apron will be going public in short order, kicking off the ...

»

Not a minimalist? Startups will gladly store, manage and deliver your items

If our civilization collapses and archaeologists return centuries ...

»

Andrew Ng announces Deeplearning.ai, his new venture after leaving Baidu

Andrew Ng, the former chief scientist of Baidu, announced his next ...