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Benchmark Labs Devices Help Farmers Stay Prepared

AGTECH: Weather Monitoring Platform Attracting Investors

Carlos Gaitan knows that for farmers, knowledge is power. The weather impacts their operations – from crop growth and produce yield to water and fertilizer needs, from laborers’ time in the field to the amount and types of pests in a region.

Along with Ulrik Soderstrom and the late Chris Lund, Gaitan co-founded San Diego-based Benchmark Labs Inc., which since 2019 has used artificial intelligence-based weather forecasts, data from in-situ IOT sensors that monitor environmental conditions and National Weather Service forecasts to help farm managers optimize irrigation practices and evapotranspiration, and check frost and heat spike risks. The company’s technology provides real-time alerts and accesses field-specific real time and historical weather data to benchmark a farm’s current growing season against past years.

The company installs weather stations in the field and provides a sensor that belongs to the end-customer that transmits data to Benchmark Labs’ software platform, which then tailors forecasts to that specific location. Its recommendations and alerts through Benchmark Labs’ SaaS subscription software help farmers stay a step ahead of the weather. It also improves passive disease management and helps farm management optimize labor scheduling for a better bottom line.

Carlos Gaitan
Co-founder
Benchmark Labs

Gaitan said Benchmark Labs’ technology can improve the accuracy of a weather forecast by as much as 50% relative to very specific locations around the world. Farm managers using Benchmark Labs devices and forecasts report saving 10% of their operating costs and increasing their production yield through better management activities, he added. Several farm managers growing avocados and citruses have reported to Benchmark Labs a reduction in their water consumption by 10% and increased yields between 50% and 100%.

Gaining Financial Support

Benchmark Labs’ solution for farming is beginning to catch the attention of investors, and recently the world’s most popular search engine, Google, picked the company to be part of its Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund initiative.

Danny Navarro
Marketing Lead
Google for Startups

The Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund provides $150,000 cash awards as well as hands-on support to “help tech entrepreneurs overcome the disproportionate hurdles they face when raising capital,” said Danny Navarro, Marketing Lead of Google for Startups, and to help the build and grow their businesses in the United States – without giving up equity in return.

In addition to cash and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, 2023 Latino Founders Fund recipients also receive no-cost mentorship from Googlers, along with other resources such as sales training, investor prep, mental health coaching and more.

“We are excited to welcome a new group of diverse founders who are using technology to solve some of society’s biggest problems, including Carlos Gaitan from Benchmark Labs,” Navarro said. “The innovative solutions Benchmark Labs is creating are invaluable for farm managers facing the challenges of climate change.”

In addition to funding from Google, Gaitan said Benchmark Labs is currently fundraising its Seed Round, and already has $800,000 in commitments.

The company’s main investors are NextView Ventures, Beyond the Bounds and Snowspruce. Benchmark Labs has also received grants/contracts from the California Energy Commission, National Science Foundation and NASA.

“With the funding from the grants we de-risked the technology and validated it on the field, on the other hand, the funds from the accelerators and our investors have been helping us to refine our product, reach economies of scale and to make our forecasting solutions available globally, not only in Southern California,” Gaitan said.

Benchmark Labs was also a Connect San Diego “Cool Company” in 2022.

“Carlos has a small core team, but they are smart and talented,” said Mike Krenn, president and CEO, Connect with San Diego Venture Group. “It’s really quite impressive what they are doing. We look forward to seeing the impact they can make.”

Benchmark Labs, Inc.

FOUNDED: 2019
CO-FOUNDERS: Carlos Gaitan, Chris Lund, Ulrik Soderstrom
CEO: Carlos Gaitan
HEADQUARTERS: BlueTech Incubator, University Town Center
BUSINESS: C Corporation, SaaS
EMPLOYEES: 6
WEBSITE: benchmarklabs.com
CONTACT: carlos@benchmarklabs.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: The company is part of the 1% pledge, a global corporate philanthropy movement that encourages donating 1% of staff time, product, profit and/or equity to
NOTABLE: Benchmark Labs is working with The Nature Conservancy to help with controlled burns.

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