Happy New Year, Crowdfund Insiders!
2018 was a great year for Small Robots Company. The UK-based agri-tech startup won £565K Innovate UK funding — one of the largest awards given in 2018, signed up 20 farm businesses and received £90K in pre-sales on its services.
As of today, Small Robots Company is 190% overfunding, having secured more than £951,790 from 634+ Crowdcube investors, quickly surpassing the company’s £500,000 target goal for 19.22% equity. Pre-Valued at £4,000,000, the company aims to take a chunk of profits from the precision farming market, which is set to be worth $5B by 2020, replacing heavy large machinery with its more nimble robots.
Led by co-founders Sam Watson Jones, a fourth generation arable farmer with a clear vision for making farming better, and Ben Scott-Robinson, an experienced entrepreneur who has taken two startups from zero to successful exit and focuses on proposition development, product and user experience design, Small Robots Company has spoken to more than 100 farmers who want to stop using heavy machinery.
“We know that heavy tractors damage soil, cause compaction which impedes plant growth, and necessitate ploughing, which in turn contributes to the loss of topsoil,” explained Small Robots Company in its campaign. “We are developing Farming as a Service (FaaS). This is a farming system which will use lightweight robots and Artificial Intelligence to create a truly Digital Farm.”
With robots Tom, Dick and Harry –Tom collects data autonomously. Dick will care for the crops (an estimated savings up to 95% of chemicals) and Harry will place seeds individually with minimal soil disturbance– and Wilma (the company’s AI operating system) who gives a digital view of the field, the robots only treat the individual plants that need it.
To date, the Company has reportedly signed up 20 farms, who have each paid a £5,000 deposit, as Small Robot’s first customers. Tom, Dick, Harry and Wilma, get ready to work — they have not yet been in the fields.
“We cannot know that the robots will deliver these savings until we prove the figures in fields. However, we have a high level of confidence that we can achieve the savings we are targeting because we have verified our approach and our figures with leading experts,” shared Small Robots Company in Discuss. “We are also not waiting for any technology to be invented in order for us to deliver this; much of the innovation in the first year or so will be around integration of existing technologies to make them work for the customer at scale.
“A key point on revenues is that we are not waiting for the full service to be ready before we can start generating ongoing revenues. We can start generating revenues in the second half of 2019 with Tom and Wilma with minimal additional development. The development of Dick and Harry on schedule will allow us to accelerate revenue growth, but should there be any delays we can still grow our business substantially with the developments we have made to date.”
The company yesterday posted an update on Crowdcube regarding a significant investment:
“Investors may have noticed a recent investment for £350,000, which was made into this campaign over the weekend. Crowdcube are looking into this investment and have requested further information from the investor. Crowdcube have therefore removed the investment from the progress bar until this is resolved. We apologise to investors and the company for any confusion caused and the delay whilst we complete these necessary regulatory checks.”
In addition, Small Robots Company shared insight in Discuss into its process:
“We have survived two years without giving away any equity, but we know that we need to accelerate our development, and that we need funding to do this, if we are to capture significant market share in this new sector. We are basing our performance claims on university research that has been carried out on similar mechanisms to the ones we are developing. Non-chemical weeding, for example, has been shown to reduce herbicide usage by 95% and more in university field trials.”
Small Robots also shared details about its service model,
“The thinking behind the service model is that this will be the model which will remove the barriers to entry for the customer, and therefore the model that will allow us to grow our market share most rapidly. We also think that machinery ownership, in its current form, is not working for farmers and that service models will become more widely adopted in the sector in the future than they are today.”
For more details regarding Small Robots Company’s Crowdcube equity crowdfunding campaign, click here. 12 days remain on the raise.
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