SpaceAG was selected by the best startup accelerator in the world. We tell you how we managed to achieve this great goal. Find out more here
In 2018, Cesar Urrutia, my soon-to-be co-founder, and I traveled to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We had been flying drones for growers back home in Peru, trying to figure out what their biggest pains were and how to solve them using digital solutions. Cesar's background in remote sensing and mine in startup investing - plus our lifetime friendship - were great assets to bring innovation to the booming high-value crop market of Peru.
A key part of our trip to the Bay Area was to participate in THRIVE’s agtech summit and to learn about solutions that could be adopted by growers in our region. Most specifically, we were looking for a software partner to work with in Peru. Our idea was to integrate our images to an existing farm management software to provide a complete solution to our customers.
THRIVE was already considered among the top early-stage investors in agtech, with an impressive portfolio of startups and partners. Good for us, that year’s focus was on the recent exit of Blue River Technology. Jorge Heraud, co-founder of Blue River and a fellow Peruvian, helped us with introductions and great advice. By the end of the event, we did not find the software partner and decided to build our own software instead.
This was the beginning of SpaceAG. A few months later, we had already hired our CTO and a small product team to start writing code. Our product vision was to build a software that combined drone and satellite images with data from the farm at a manager level. We activated our network and started to co-develop this product with leading high-value crops growers. In parallel, we were raising our first investment round and applying to different accelerator programs.
From those programs, THRIVE was our main target. We had seen first hand their experience and network in the global agtech community. We had started to build a relationship with them. Although we were still early in figuring out our value proposition and had no product or traction, we had a very strong team and a huge market opportunity. Most importantly, we wanted to compete in the big leagues and to be in THRIVE’s radar. We got rejected.
One of the most valuable aspects of applying to accelerators or talking with investors is that it forces you to look at your current situation and assess your biggest challenges. Change is a norm in startups. These challenges are always changing. As co-founders, maturing the ability to look inside and identify your company's main areas of improvement is critical.
After 4 years applying to THRIVE, we could look back and trace our path to refining our value proposition and our company’s vision. In each application we not only showed improvements in product-market fit and traction but, most importantly, we better understood our market and showed a clearer vision on how to differentiate and grow.
We evolve our product to focus on farm workers. High-value crop growers make most of their strategic decisions with information still collected by people walking the fields. We found a way to empower these people, and to push digitalization from the ground up. We also learned how to leverage the relationships with our leading, international customers to open new markets and accelerate our growth.
Last March, we got accepted in THRIVE’s 2022 cohort.
When preparing the application, we explained how we shifted our focus from helping plants to helping people in the fields. The shortage of skilled workers is affecting the industry and our whole food supply. We have to empower people in the farms, provide them with tools so they can be more productive and help their crops grow better.
We showed our traction of over 1,000 active users (from farm managers to temporary harvesters) in 7 countries of Latin America. Lastly, we ask THRIVE for help to enter the US market and to find strategic customers, partners and investors to scale.
THRIVE’s program begins with a Seed Camp week in California. It includes workshops with investors, entrepreneurs and growers. We are learning how to approach our growth in the US and Canadian markets, and how to structure our Series A investment round. We are already talking with potential investors and plan to complete our fundraising by midyear.
Besides our US expansion, there is much more to learn from THRIVE and their network of mentors. THRIVE’s portfolio of companies have created over $1 billion in value. Their insights in product development, go-to-market strategies and fundraising are great and actionable content we are using to grow our 30-people startup into a global company.
THRIVE’s program ends with demo day at Forbes’ Future of Food Summit in June, where companies pitch to investors and partners. Our goal by then is to be working with customers in the USA and have a lead investor for our Series A round. We will be working together to achieve our purpose to improve the lives of people in agriculture, helping farmers feed the world better.
Find out more about our agtech solutions HERE