Source Illustration: Dom Guzman
Arable aims to observe a crop’s development as it grows and help farmers determine when the crop needs the basics, such as more light, water, or nutrients.
Buoyed by a $20 million Series B round of funding, the San Francisco-based company enables farmers to digitize and optimize their decisions by providing data on how weather and other factors affect yield, quality and harvest timing.
It measures everything of importance to crops–weather, soil and even the plant itself–using a set of spectral and thermal sensors that point down at the plants, Jim Ethington, CEO of Arable, told Crunchbase News. Ethington joined the company as CEO in 2018 and has worked at the intersection of agriculture and technology for the past 12 years.
The round was led by Prelude Ventures and includes new participation by M20, Nassau Street Ventures and Tridon, as well as investment from Arable’s existing investors including S2G Ventures, Middleland Capital and Chasefield. With the new investment, Arable has raised a total of $38 million since its inception in 2015, which includes a $4.3 million Series A round in 2017 according to Crunchbase data.
Arable is putting the new funding to work on its global expansion and on continued innovation, Ethington said. The company has already made an investment in Brazil, an important component of the food system that is in need of good technology, he added.
“There are a lot of farmers and land, but not enough tools to support them,” Ethington said. “Right now, we have an office in Brazil and want to expand that. Asia is next on the horizon.”
As part of the investment, Mark Cupta, managing director at Prelude, is joining Arable’s board. He has been looking for four years to invest in a company that was digitizing agriculture in a way that was scalable and found it in Arable, he said.
“A number of companies are trying to do this in pieces and portions of agriculture,” Cupta said in an interview. “I had met Arable several times, but when I saw Jim at the helm, who has been able to scale a business in the space, it got me excited.
“They are collecting a completely new data layer from fields that have never before been gathered with as much granularity and consistency,” he added. “All of the breadth and depth is important to value creation, and that is why I led their Series B.”
Meanwhile, 2020 was a big year of growth for the company. Arable experienced just over 300 percent in sales growth through the third quarter, driven by customer growth in new products.
It is also partnering with high-profile players and startups in agriculture and food, including Bayer, Mars and Planet Labs.
“The pandemic exposed how fragile the food system is,” Ethington said. “Farmers want to get more data about what feeds into their business and are more eager than ever to learn what is happening in the product of food.”