Ag Tech News: AgVend Garners $1.75 Million Seed Fundraising Round
AgVend is pleased to announce the close of a $1.75m seed fundraising round led by Iowa native Drew Oetting at 8VC. This investment will enable the team to expand its pursuit of driving eCommerce in US agriculture across the country.
AgVend and the modern American Farmer
Today, the vast majority of agricultural input and service sales are done offline through brick and mortar retailers. Labor shortages and low commodity prices have drastically increased the time and price sensitivity of the American farmer. And as younger, more tech-savvy generations return to the farm with an eye on innovation, the market is open for new technology to increase efficiency and transform the family farm for the better.
Similar to travel marketplaces, AgVend enables farmers to search for products, filter results (based on price, delivery, bundled services, and more) and select the option that best fits their needs.
“We leave the delivery or pickup to our Partner Retailers, who not only fulfill and service the order but add a welcomed personal touch.” said Co-Founder and CEO Alexander Reichert, “AgVend backs and guarantees each order, and we are with the farmer every step of the way.”
The unique partnership with retailers allows farmers to take advantage of rebates, same day delivery, and other key benefits offered by the channel.
“Retailers provide a tremendous amount of value to the farmer. Why create redundancies and cut them out of the equation when we can leverage their logistics networks, partnerships with manufacturers, and knowledge of the products to deliver a new level of customer experience?” said Reichert.
The ability to selectively choose services seems to resonate well with farmers.
“The younger farmers come from a generation where they didn’t buy CDs; they were able to select the songs they wanted from an album and download them.” said Lance Petersen, a Minnesota farmer and long-time supporter of the company.
The digitally-backed future of farming
In addition to the Marketplace, the company offers a white label version called the AgVend Storefront. They view their offering broadly as a digital commerce platform built for agriculture from the ground-up. Partner Retailers can market their solutions, support their customers, and sell their inputs & services on the AgVend Platform, all while maintaining complete control and visibility over the customer experience.
“Our goal is to make the existing salesforce more efficient, not replace the store.” Reichert said, adding, “There is no substitute for a physical presence and a firm handshake.”
The company went live at the start of 2018 and now has inventory in states throughout the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, with plans to be nationwide by September of this year.
“We are seeing thousands of searches per week from farmers across the country.” said Reichert, “The farmer interest is there. Our challenge is meeting that demand with supply, which is why we are focusing our efforts to increase the onboarding efficiency with new retailers.”
Where agriculture and technology meet
With offices in Minneapolis and California, the AgVend team is comprised of individuals with backgrounds in agriculture, eCommerce, and omnichannel retail — combining the knowledge of the intricate farming industry with the engineering expertise of Silicon Valley.
Prior to starting AgVend, Alexander led product for Euclid Analytics, working with Fortune 500 companies at the forefront of omnichannel retail. His co-founder, Eli Rosenberg, was part of the founding team at GetGoing, a YC backed travel marketplace that partnered with the largest hotel and airline companies to reach travelers worldwide. The two met while working for Mavrx, an agricultural imagery company, where they developed their robust working relationship.
Joining 8VC are a list of other notable investors including Green Bay Ventures, Precursor Ventures, FJ Labs, Seahawk Capital, The House Fund, T-Bird Capital, and Escondido Ventures. This $1.75m round will go toward building the AgVend team and expanding nationwide.
“From the corn fields in Iowa to the startup garages in California, our belief is that the collaboration between these two worlds will generate the best result.” Reichert said, adding, “That was also our mindset when it came to deciding on investors for this round. We have a great deal of work ahead of us, but we are very pleased to have them as partners on this journey.”