Smart Yields

Early Stage

Big data for small farms.

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $100,531

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

Republic

Start Date

11/13/2018

Close Date

04/30/2019

Min. Goal

$25,000

Max. Goal

$107,000

Min. Investment

$100

Security Type

Convertible Note

Funding Type

RegCF

Valuation Cap

$5,000,000

Discount Rate

0%

Rolling Commitments $

Status
Funded
Reporting Date

05/05/2019

Days Remaining
Funded
% of Min. Goal

402%

% of Max. Goal

94%

Likelihood of Max
Funded
Avg. Daily Raise

$598

# of Investors

480

Momentum
Funded
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Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Industry

Farming & Agriculture

Tech Sector

Smart Yields helps take the guesswork out of growing. They provide big data insights for small farmers to help them get online quickly, simply, and effectively. For example -- they saved one apple farmer by giving him a 30 minute early warning about an incoming frost. So far, they’ve raised $1.5M from partners including the Vatican’s Laudato Si Challenge, Blue Startups, Henk Rogers, Elemental Excelerator, and Vega Ventures. Smart Yields also received a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture and is currently working in four states and two countries. Their goal is to expand to nine states and three countries by the end of 2019.
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Analyst Report Analyst Report Methodology Article

Summary

Raised as of 12/11/18: $11,255

The Smart Yields team has been selected as a “Deal To Watch” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10-20% of our deal diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology please reach out to hello@kingscrowd.com.

Check out our discussion with the Founder & CEO, Vincent Kimura HERE, conducted as part of our due diligence process.

Problem

Did you know agriculture, which largely constitutes farming is a $7.8 trillion enterprise globally and contributes to 10% of global GDP, with the United States holding the number one spot.

Unfortunately, it is becoming more challenging for farmers to monitor their crops and agriculture due mainly to changing weather patterns, burdensome government regulations and global warming. In fact only 9 cents of every dollar produced by a farmer actually makes it back to the farm.

 This problem is especially challenging for small to medium scale farmers who lack bargaining power as it relates to buying seeds, nutrients, and other crop needs, which larger corporations can negotiate down to help manage profit margins.

At the same time, small and medium sized farms (defined as up to about 50 acres and 50 to 250 acres, respectively) currently produce more than half of the world’s micronutrient-rich and diversified foods, as opposed to the larger farms that produce sugar, oil grains, and cereal grains.In the U.S., 88% of all farms are small family farms and 58% of all direct farm sales to consumers come from these family farms.

However, there has been a steady decline in smaller farms over the past few years, with more land being taken away from small farmers and given to larger corporations. Not only has this lead to drops in salary and decreases in the number of jobs available on farms, but has created an overall sense of insecurity for those working within this industry.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made attempts to boost the positions and opportunities for these smaller farms by making capital more accessible, building more “Farm to School” educational programs, and creating water and land management plans among many other initiatives, there is still a dire need for more resources and support to help farms be able to not only survive but thrive, not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is a major and essential part of the economy.

Solution

Smart Yields has taken advantage of this opportunity, finding a gap in not only the needs and solutions provided to small and medium scale farmers, but also in the growing smart agriculture industry. 

There have already been many major factors contributing to the growth of the smart agriculture market, including the willing adoption of advanced technologies in agriculture applications, fear of global warming and the changing climate, as well as a desire for increased productivity and efficiency in general.

This year alone, the smart agriculture market is worth about $7.5 billion and is predicted to reach $13.5 billion in 2023, at a CAGR of 12.4%. Moreover, smart agriculture tools are used most in what is known as precision farming, helping maximize crop yields.

This has created a huge need for hardware components in order to minimize input and maximize output productivity. According to the Farm Journal Media Survey, more than 60% of farmers worldwide were already using smartphones and tablets to monitor their crops in 2015, and the share has only continued to rise with the expected number of connected agricultural devices to be 225 million by the end of 2024. 

By offering low-cost technologies that are easy to use and accessible to all kinds of farmers, Smart Yields is introducing a fresh approach to agriculture. Utilizing hardware that aggregates data and constantly tracks metrics like frost conditions, CO2 optimization, and more, this offering gives small to medium scale farmers access to contextual and relevant insights, taking all the guesswork out of their crop growth and success.

By prioritizing insights and data direct to the consumer, Smart Yields prides themselves on their continuous commitment to increasing productivity and efficiency. However, Smart Yields is not the only company that has caught on to the explosion of the smart agriculture industry and the market is extremely crowded with new offerings as well as established players – such as John Deere – that are actively embracing the Internet of Things in efforts to stay afloat and remain relevant amongst all these groundbreaking innovations.

OnFarm is another offering that allows consumers to collect, manage, and share information to improve their crop, with different subscription models similar to Smart Yields. However, while on the outset it seems like a similar product, it has much less backing and is not phone accessible, limiting its usability.  

Yet another recent company is Farmobile, offering services from live views of field and machine activities to animal and herd data collection. However, this service is incredibly expensive with the cheapest option at an annual subscription of $1,250. 

CropX is another new entrant in the smart agriculture industry, priding themselves on their integrated hardware providing simple, reliable, affordable, and actionable solutions.

Their subscription model ranges from $10 a month to a one-time payment of $700. This offering is most similar to Smart Yields, where their “Starter” subscription pack is an annual payment of $600, or $50 a month.

Already, Smart Yields has seen a 10x increase in their revenue since 2017 from $27,000 to $200,000 speaking to their immense growth and success in the industry, faring well despite the number of competitors.  

Even though sales revenue has increased by about 3x, operating losses have also increased – not unexpected as go-to-market requires an investment in opening up distribution channels and investing in product development.

Why We Like it

1. More than just data: Not only is Smart Yields dedicated to providing data insights to their subscribing farmers, but they want to engage with education and communities, developing high school and university agriculture programs and creating agriculture focused organizations and urban gardens.

If their offering and pricing scheme was not enough of a differentiator from their competitors, their unique positioning and dedication to communities in this sense sets them apart even more, making them even more attractive to the industry.

2. Affordable and accessible: Smart Yields offers several different payment options and subscription methods for farmers, from a daily payment of only $1.60 for access to their web application where farmers can view activity directly tailored to their identified important factors, to starter and irrigation add-on packs at $50 to $100 a month, respectively.

With so many different pricing schemes and ways to visualize data received, Smart Yields combines the importance of information and access to generate a high ROI for their customers – reducing time, travel, and manpower in onsite monitoring. 

3. Opportunity for acquisition: As previously mentioned, there are a number of larger players in the industry – including Deere & Co., Raven Industries, The Climate Corporation, and AG Leader Technology – all working alongside these agriculture technology startups looking to keep up in the industry race to the top. As a result, acquisition often becomes a viable option for these corporations and has been a trend in the past, with indications of movement into the world of smart farming tools.

 Last year, John Deere acquired Blue River Tech in order to enhance their position within the market and there are signs that they, as well as other companies, will want to continue to grow and expand their offerings.

4. Data And Platform Approach: Setting the team up for long term success, Smart Yields is rapidly collecting all the data from their users to bolster the strength and predictive ability of their product, which in it of itself is extremely valuable and helps to build a long term defensive moat.

5. Efficient Distribution: My major concern with the business was figuring out how they would sell efficiently to such a fragmented market of small and relatively non-tech savvy farmers who might be slow to adopt a solution like Smart Yields.

6. Recognition to date:With $1.5M already raised to date, part of the 2017 cohort of the Elemental Excelerator, and one of the nine companies from around the world to present in the inaugural Laudato Si Challenge tech accelerator in Rome, Smart Yields’ success thus far speaks for itself.

Most recently, Smart Yields was named Hawaii’s Most Innovative Company in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Awards and also won the 2018 Pacific Business News Business Leadership Hawaii award for Best in Small Business.  

Already successful with incredible reviews, Smart Yields is present in 4 states and 2 countries so far with plans t expand to Europe and beyond in the near future. 

However, the team explained that their market approach is to partner with large farmer associations, which can act as a conduit to reach and serve lots of farmers efficiently. This is a wise expansion approach.

The Founders

The Smart Yields team prides themselves on an incredibly diverse team, ranging from tech experts from Silicon Valley to those with experience in running global companies. Vincent Kimura is Co-Founder and CEO, with a master’s degree in Global Management.

Since graduating, Kimura has managed to tuck over 15 years as an entrepreneur running 3 startups under his belt. He was also named a 2016 Clean Tech/Agriculture Entrepreneur by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

Jeff Frank, Smart Yields’ other founder and COO has just as much experience and drive, having previously worked for Elemental Excelerator, a clean-energy startup accelerator program based in Hawaii, and working in the U.S. Senate as a Senior Research Analyst.

Both founders are well versed in agriculture technology and startups, which positions them well to lead the Smart Yields team.

Summary

Rating

Even though this industry is crowded with several small competitors, Smart Yields has the team and technology to become a market leader. They have already shown significant market traction and product market fit.

Adding a suite of training tools and mechanisms to maneuver regulations efficiently helps the Smart Yields product to stand out from competitors and their intelligent distribution strategy through associations should help accelerate growth. And with growth comes product value-add through data collection, which further bolsters the products long term moat.

In the next few years, smart digital farming is going to reshape the agriculture industry as we know it. With new technology being constantly developed and acquired, the agriculture industry will be capable of so much more production, benefitting us all.

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Smart Yields on Republic
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Platform: Republic
Security Type: Convertible Note
Valuation: $5,000,000

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