An upstart Cornwall-based agtech enterprise says it’s set to sow the seeds of rapid growth thanks to a multimillion-dollar cash infusion from a California investor.
Launched a year ago, Cultivatd is the brainchild of founders Eric Bergeron and Eric Levesque. The vertical farming industry veterans hatched the firm as a way to connect agriculture players ranging from local farmers to major grocery chains with providers of indoor farming technology.
Investors clearly think Cultivatd is poised to blossom – late last month, the firm closed a US$3-million round led by Resilient Earth Ventures, a California-based organization that funds smart climate solutions and food security projects.
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Levesque says with the world’s population projected to grow by 50 per cent over the next three decades and climate change expected to wreak havoc with outdoor agriculture, vertical farming is grabbing the investor spotlight.
“The industry as a whole is growing very, very rapidly because there’s just no other option to be able to feed this growing population,” he says. “Indoor farming is really the only solution.”
Cultivatd, which bills itself as an “indoor farm brokerage,” helps to arrange the sale and purchase of indoor farms, vertical farming systems and other agriculture services.
The 11-person startup already has more than 1,000 clients, who get most of Cultivatd’s services for free. The fledgling firm makes its money through partnerships with more than 40 of the agriculture industry’s biggest tech suppliers, charging commission for brokering deals.
“Because the industry is so new, it can be very cumbersome when you’re wading through information on 50 or 100 different companies to try to find out which one might be the right fit for you,” Levesque explains.
Cultivatd says it’s now part of more than $250 million worth of active agriculture projects around the world. But Levesque says it’s only just beginning to make its presence felt in the $50-billion vertical farming technology industry.
$500M equity fund in works
The firm is set to open offices later this year in Austin, Tex., Dubai and Perth, Australia – all places located in what Levesque calls “food deserts,” where conditions are ripe for indoor farming and Cultivatd is now partnering on major projects.
In addition, the company is launching Cultivatd Capital, an equity fund backed by lead investor Malcolm Bean, who is also taking a seat on the firm’s board. The fund, which is expected to debut later this month, hopes to raise as much as $500 million to finance new vertical farming operations.
“That’s really going to help shorten the sales cycle and get some of the larger, more impressive projects that we’re working on up to speed,” Levesque says.
The co-founder says it’s all part of the firm’s goal to become a “head-to-toe” service provider that helps clients choose technology partners, backs new agricultural ventures and works with customers on the ground to help them operate their farms more efficiently.
“We’re pretty bullish on the future,” says Levesque, whose company is set to open a new head office in Cornwall’s Cotton Mill District later this month.
“We believe we’ve really hit a true niche here – something that the industry was needing. We’re excited for what this year is going to bring. We think we’re going to crush all our metrics, and you’re going to be seeing a lot more of us.”