Venture Capital News: Aerial Imagery Outfit Garners $5 Mil in Series A

Ceres Imaging, an aerial spectral imagery and analytics company serving the agricultural sector, today announced it has raised a $5 million Series A round led by Romulus Capital. The company, which has raised $8m to date, will use the funding to scale in its current markets, speed entry into new crops, and hire additional staff.

Against a backdrop of rising demand for food, today’s growers are increasingly challenged to maximize yields while minimizing input costs, labor, resources, and waste. Ceres Imaging’s aerial imaging and analytics take advances in spectral imaging technologies and apply them in the field, leveraging the skills of Ceres’ team of PhD agronomists, hydrologists, and remote sensing experts to translate aerial images into actionable guidance for growers. Ceres’ multi-year collaboration with leading agricultural scientists from across the University of California system gives growers a level of confidence in Ceres’ findings, according to the company.

“I founded Ceres after working in Brazilian sugarcane agriculture, where I saw the waste and inefficiency caused by overuse of fertilizers and other chemicals due to a lack of data,” said Ashwin Madgavkar, founder and CEO. “We offer growers truly meaningful aerial data, measuring water and nitrogen content at a plant level, which allows growers to identify over- and under-watering, fertilization problems, and other resource issues. Growers have been impacted by increased regulatory oversight and drought conditions, and we expect these issues will continue.”

Ceres Imaging captures, processes, and delivers high-resolution spectral imagery-as-a-service for agriculture. To capture the most effective images and data, the company places its proprietary, custom-built cameras on fixed wing aircrafts, gathering data at a higher resolution and quality than satellite imagery with far greater scale and consistency than is possible with drones. Ceres’ spectral imagery products and analytics, generated from a highly skilled team of PhDs, data scientists, and engineers, provide growers with specific guidance to optimize water and fertilizer decisions in real-time, offering them early warnings on plant health throughout the growing season while there is still time to act. There is no upfront cost or hardware that growers must buy, and customers pay by the acre, on a subscription basis.

“We have surveyed the ag tech market for a couple of years, and Ceres stood out. Ceres combines better imaging technology, best-in-class scientific analytics, a world-class team, and a really humble and collaborative approach to a massive, intelligent, and hungry industry that is often tricky to sell into,” said Krishna K. Gupta, founder and managing partner of Romulus Capital. “Unlike most of its competitors, Ceres has found a way to create a measurable impact on the bottom line for its customers. We’re really excited to be working with Ceres and look forward to working with them to expand their product suite and global footprint.”

Ceres Imaging currently manages hundreds of thousands of acres across the US and Australia, across multiple crops ranging from tree nuts and vegetables to corn and soybeans.  While Ceres is making strides in the agriculture market — a $20 billion global opportunity — its offerings may also have future use in forestry, livestock management, oil and gas infrastructure, urban applications, and any type of natural resource.  The company has also received grants from the Elemental Accelerator, the U.S.D.A., and the State of California.

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