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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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GroGuru Closes $2.3M Series A

AGTECH: Funds to Push Sales of AI-Driven Farming Solutions

Like the crops for the farms that it helps – from alfalfa to walnuts – San Diego-based GroGuru continues to grow.

The company makes both software and hardware technology that together work to help farmers more efficiently use water and manage their costs by providing real-time and historical data on soil moisture, salinity and temperature.

Patrick Henry
CEO
GroGuru

GroGuru President and CEO Patrick Henry said the company has deployed its innovative IoT system for precision irrigation and soil monitoring and management onto more than 200,000 acres of farmland across the over 300 end customers in the U.S.

GroGuru earlier this month (Aug. 3) completed a $2.3 million Series Seed A financing round co-led by Cove Fund and Impact Venture Capital.

The funding will be used to expand sales, push development and commercialize GroGuru’s AI-enabled solutions for farmers, and the expansion of the company’s strategic partnerships.

Shari Rogge-Fidler
CEO
Farm Foundation

GroGuru has already secured one such strategic partnership with the Aug. 14 appointment of Farm Foundation CEO Shari Rogge-Fidler to its board of directors.

Rogge-Fidler is a fifth-generation farm owner and operator, entrepreneur in the organic branded food industry, and as CEO of Farm Foundation, leads a 90-year-old agriculture think tank made up of a group of companies serving 1,000 farmers.

“As a farmer and through my leadership roles in agriculture, I am all too aware of the pressing challenges that confront sustainable water use and management,” she said. “GroGuru is developing solutions for our water future, and I am excited to help this company bring its innovative products to market.”

Crucial Capital Raise

Henry said that the funding comes at a crucial moment in the history of the nearly 10-year-old company.

“It’s been a very challenging time to raise capital, especially venture capital,” he said, noting the funding gap that exists in San Diego region, without access to what he calls “a big super angel network” that helps fill gaps in the market in other places like Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area.

Henry said that GroGuru had three rounds of equity crowdfunding during “the downturn that was 2020, 2021 and some of 2022… and that kind of kept us alive.”

“But it didn’t really allow us to kind of break out from a growth standpoint,” he said. “We were getting enough funding to kind of stay alive, grow the business and do some minimal things from a product development standpoint. That kind of allowed us to weather things, and we came out on the other side of that.”

Henry, a serial entrepreneur who has run four different startup companies, officially joined GroGuru in mid-2018. He began as an investor and strategic business advisor to the company starting in mid-2017 and when company co-founder Farooq Anjum decided to lean toward other ventures, Henry was tabbed to be the CEO.

Henry from 2003-14 was president and CEO of Entropic Communications, which later was acquired by MaxLinear. He took Entropic from pre-revenue and pre-product through a successful IPO and a billion-dollar valuation.

He said the last time he raised venture capital previously was for Entropic in 2005, a fund raise which eventually helped the company go public in 2007.

He said Paul Voois, fund manager at Cove Fund, knew him “and a little bit of my reputation” from previous ventures. Cove Fund is a family of seed-stage venture capital funds that provides startup funding for promising new Southern California ventures.

Both the Cove Fund and Impact VC have built powerful relationships with Corporate Venture investors, which will be important for GroGuru in future financing rounds for the company.

“Cove Fund is excited to participate in GroGuru’s financing,” Voois said. “We believe that GroGuru’s proven platform, including the industry’s only wireless soil monitoring technology and deep analytics, will change the way farmers manage their water usage, decreasing their costs, improving their yields, and saving water for the environment.”

WUGS Technology

GroGuru’s groundbreaking – literally – solutions enable farmers to increase crop yields and at the same time more efficiently use water, energy, fertilizer and labor more sustainably.

GroGuru has been able to capture a large slice of farms that feature annual field crops with its patented technology called Wireless Underground System, or WUGS.

WUGS works by remotely monitoring soil moisture in the crop root zone in real time and then transmitting the data to the cloud.

“With annual crops, the wireless underground system which enables permitted install and continuous data monitoring, continuous soil monitoring over multiple years, it’s like a hand-in-glove fit with that market,” Henry said.

About 70% of the world’s fresh water supply is used for agriculture irrigation. In addition, Henry said, world food production needs to increase by 50% by 2050 just to keep pace with population growth.

GroGuru Inc.

FOUNDED: 2014
PRESIDENT AND CEO: Patrick Henry (since 2018, invested 2017)
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego (EvoNexus)
BUSINESS: Ag Tech/AI-SaaS
FUNDING: Over $5 million, seed and Series A
EMPLOYEES: 10
WEBSITE: groguru.com
CONTACT: sales@groguru.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: Regenerative ag – sustainability 70%; over 30% efficiency in water usage for commercial ag
NOTABLE: GroGuru won $250,000 in a 2018 pitch competition run hosted by agtech accelerator Radicle Growth.

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