Montreal’s motorleaf, a provider of indoor growing hardware and software for the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) sector, has launched a $750,000 convertible equity financing campaign on AgFunder, an agriculture-focused online investment platform.
Motorleaf’s automated indoor farming operating system consists of four hardware devices, each wireless mesh network enabled, and a software analytics platform, enabling growers of indoor crops to monitor data relating to air temperature, humidity, and light level among other data points, via cloud-based software.
We tend to think of Ag Tech strictly as a way of applying technological solutions to big, outdoor or industrial farming and livestock operations, but of course there is a growing trend recently of urban rooftop gardening and small-scale indoor gardening, which the company estimates is currently a $17.7 billion market.
Then there is, of course, the pending legalization of marijuana both in Canada and most of the rest of the U.S., which, based on estimates from Manifest Mind, New Frontier and ArcView Group, is a $5.7 billion market, a figure which pertains only to areas where marijuana has already been legalized in the U.S.
IBISWorld estimates hydroponic growing equipment store revenue in the U.S. alone to be $654 million alone, which is a subset of the company’s addressable market.
Co-founder Ramen Dutta is the Chief Technology Officer and inventor of the motorleaf platform, with more than 15 years of enterprise engineering experience and an agriculture engineering degree from McGill University.
“The demands of Ramen’s IT business meant that he didn’t want to constantly go back and forth to his operation to test PH and nutrient levels, so he looked for an off-the-shelf solution that could turn his garden into a smart garden — like a Nest for agriculture — and he couldn’t find anything on the market,” says motorleaf CEO and co-founder Alastair Monk. “So he started hacking together what we eventually called the HUB — for Huge Ugly Box — which was giant but started to offer the solutions he wanted.”
Monk has more than 15 years of executive experience working with high-growth technology companies, running the business development team department at eFundraising.com, which was recognized as an Inc. Top Ten fastest growing company before selling to Readers’ Digest for $27 million.
Motorleaf has reduced the size of their “Huge Ugly Box” so that it is now housed in a small, elegant form factor.
The AgFunder campaign is to raise seed money to help scale up the company’s manufacturing and marketing efforts and to hire additional staff.
But motorleaf already has over 200 units on order for customers ranging from OEM manufacturers, supermarkets, high schools and licensed cannabis farmers, without having spent any money on marketing.
Motorleaf has already received investment from FounderFuel, a Real Ventures program, and was one of six companies selected to participate in the Spring 2016 cohort of machine learning and big data startups.
The earliest display of motorleaf’s technology is at the Price Chopper Market Bistro store in Latham, New York, a fully functioning hydroponic tomato growing operation inside a grocery store, which was installed by Vermont Hydroponic Produce.
The tomatoes in the Latham grocery store have reportedly attracted a loyal following from shoppers, who regularly check in on the tomato plants’ progress.
An investor webinar for motorleaf can be viewed on the AgFunder website here.