Aerobotics recently secured $2 million closing its Series A round of funding. The successful round was backed by major investors such as 4Di Capital from SA, AngelList from the US, AgFunder which is an Ag-Tech Venture Capital Fund from the US, and Nedbank Group from SA. The startup majors in the protection of tree crop farming against pest and diseases. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to develop satellite and drone imagery and distribute resources to farmers. Insurance companies and banks are also banking on the information when assessing the risk of clients.
According to James Paterson, the CEO of Aerobotics, the startup works on preventing the spread of pests and diseases. It also ensures that there are optimum irrigation and level of nutrition. He added that the early detection of such problems is the difference between having a profitable harvest or a loss. Paterson said that the startup uses machine learning algorithm and imagery to give detailed information on the performance of tree crops. This allows farmers to follow the required steps to rectify any issue before they turn into real problems. According to him, the information collected from their in-field scouting application, Aeroview, can be used to give farmers insurance and financing options on the status of their crops.
Peterson added that it is clear that the South African agricultural sector plays a vital role in foreign exchange and job creation. Increasing the contribution of the sector to the GDP is possible. Eliminating severe agricultural problems for the South African farmers is a significant step towards getting to that. The startup financers have recognized this. Since its launch, Aerobotics has spent four years mentoring a team with outstanding technical, commercial and agricultural skills in the country.
Together with some of the best South African farmers, the startup has managed to validate, develop and roll out the world-class technology. Furthermore, Aerobotics has received international recognition for its innovation. It took part in StartupBootcamp InsurTech Programme in London in 2017. In 2018 it was amongst the 24 startups from emerging markets worldwide for the Google Launchpad acceleration program. The Series A round of funding has been the most outstanding one to be raised by a South African startup. This shows the potential of the technology sector in Cape Town to benefit from innovation. The startup will use the funds to expand worldwide in the coming 12 months. It will launch in the US in Florida in August 2018.