Venture capitalist firm 7percent Ventures was confirmed as lead investor on late Monday, investing £200,000 into the round. Hundreds of investors then backed the campaign, with almost half a million pounds invested the following day. The campaign then hit triple the initial target, reaching the stretch ceiling and closing the campaign 24 hours early.
The funding secured will finance SRC’s non-chemical weed zapping robot Dick to field trials, and the manufacture of a fleet of Tom monitoring robots for its commercial weed mapping service. The company’s hugely successful campaign received support from far and wide. Its biggest support came from the farming, technology and ‘eco’ communities.
1759 investors backed the round in total. The campaign cleared nearly half a million pounds in its final day and closed early at triple its initial target.It reached its initial funding target of £700,000 within two days of its launch, hitting £560,000 within minutes.
“We will not invest in any business –however good it might be — which is not a billion dollar opportunity. We are interested in Founders who want to transform a market, not iterate it. Change is the prerequisite to disruption. Therefore, to monopolize a market globally we believe you must fundamentally disrupt it. To do that you must have a product which solves a painful problem in a significantly better way (10x better ideally) than existing solutions, or serves a need which today is not being satisfied in another way.”
Agriculture is a $2.4 trillion industry, with the precision farming market a huge global opportunity for investors. Goldman Sachs predicts that the market for digital agricultural technology will be $240 billion by 2050, up from just over $5 billion today.
Small Robot Company’s mission is to maximise food production while reducing its cost on the environment. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, it has created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming. Its farmbots Tom, Dick and Harry will plant, monitor and treat arable crops autonomously, with minimal waste.
“We tripled our target and had to close early. In our wildest dreams, we hadn’t imagined such a landslide success. This overwhelming support really demonstrates the huge appetite for agritech – and the demand from farmers.,” comments Sam Watson-Jones, co-founder, Small Robot Company. “It’s inspiring to see how much support there is for innovation in agriculture. It feels like the time is right for these technologies to start making a difference. We are now very well set for next phase: commercial delivery. We can now begin manufacturing our robots, as well as delivering our weed zapping technology.”
“We’re on the cusp of a fourth agricultural revolution, taking farming into the digital age: and with British ideas and British technology at the helm,” says Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder, Small Robot Company. “Our Tom, Dick and Harry robots will completely transform what’s possible on the farm. It will radically reduce chemical usage in arable farming, while improving soils, profits and yields. It’s the ultimate sustainable farming model.”
Small Robot Company has now secured nearly £5 million in funding to date, including £1.2 million from its previous Crowdcube raise, and £1.22 million in government Innovate UK grants. This includes an £800,000 grant for its ‘Wilma’ artificial intelligence weed recognition and ‘Tom’ weed mapping technology. This was one of the largest single agritech grants made under Innovate UK’s innovation scheme in 2018.