Every moment of closing a year and beginning of another is a season to plan the new year and close the cycle that is ending.
Last year, I dared, from my perspective as an executive and entrepreneur, to mention the 13 agribusiness startups, the famous agtechs, that I believed would shine in 2021 — in revenue, projection. fundraising and people. I was very happy to see that most of them have had this success: companies like Agristamp, Atomic Agro, Bart Digital, Digifarmz, Solubio, Flex Interativa, Goflux, Grão Direto, Inova farm, Safe Trace, Seedz, TerraMagna and Traive.
All of them, without exception, had their businesses expanded in 2021 and accompanied the growth of Brazilian agribusiness. Now, in 2022, I'm going to list another 10 agtechs with great potential to take off in the year that has just started. Choosing the top 10, in an environment where we have 1,574 excellent companies and where Brazil stands out in the world, was not an easy task. My criteria are quite simple: product innovation, that is, what "pain" does it solve for the farmer/cattleman, how simple is the adoption process (before/within or after the gate) and the talent of the people involved in management.
This text comes so that you can learn a little more about them and, like me, follow the level of growth and deliveries in this year of 2022.
The year 2021 was a year of great transformations in our agribusiness and we were recognized as the most competitive and sustainable agriculture in the world. In a ranking of 187 countries, Brazil led productivity growth in the world with growth rates of 3.18% per year, according to a study published in October by the Economic Studies Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Much of this dynamism and competitiveness comes from the new generation, which is taking charge of Brazilian agribusiness. Comparing the average age of Brazilian producers in 2015 versus 2013, the Brazilian Association of Rural Marketing and Agribusiness (ABMRA), identified a drop of 3.1% in the period, to 46.5 years. This result was driven by the increased presence of young people aged between 20 and 35 in rural areas, which jumped from 15% to 27%.
Another point that catches my attention was a survey on digitization in the field carried out by the GS1 association. In this research, which focused on environmental issues, management system and processes, Brazilian agriculture appeared with an index of 0.18, on a scale ranging from 0 (lack of automation) to 1 (full digitization). It is worth highlighting some more data from this research:
- 79% of farmers do not use alternative energy systems (opportunity for companies that supply solar, wind, etc.)
- 80% do not have a simple weather station
-63% still manage their property in Excel spreadsheets and 15% in notes (opportunities for management software companies, ERP, etc.)
- 67% of properties do not have satisfactory internet (opportunity for connectivity/5G)
-64% do not have or do not make decisions with information based on satellite imagery
All this dynamism of our youth in Brazilian agriculture, and this digitization rate, makes the environment for startups very fertile. And it reinforces my feeling that some of these will be the great unicorns and consolidators of the industry's future. I have already said here that large technology companies, in most cases, were born in garages or inside universities and that we are experiencing this same movement in the agtech sector.
My question in these times is who, like the Big 4, as we know Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon and Meta (Facebook), will be the Big 4 Agtechs. All these companies had a disruptive idea and were consolidating technologies and platforms.
TOP 10 agtechs to stay tuned in 2022
Now let's talk about my bets for this New Year and what, after all, are their differentials for Brazilian agribusiness:
IZagro's main objective is to bring information and connect producers with the market in a scalable way, that is, democratizing access to digital tools. Today it has almost 60 thousand users throughout Brazil, with an area of almost 8 million hectares. The startup proposes to be the Zappos of agriculture (American online shoe and clothing retailer based in Las Vegas), with a strong focus on user capture, opportunity mapping, engagement through notifications and news, capturing these opportunities and effectiveness of sales. That is, the high capacity to take the “lead” (potential consumer) directly to the conclusion of the sale. The big challenge will be to form a network of autonomous consultants that will bring products, services, and credit to this small and medium farmer. For the farmer, this would guarantee a network of specialists that is easily accessible and close to his region.
Biochemicals are the future of agro and Openeem wants to be the authority in this segment of transition to a more conscious agriculture. The focus is on the development and distribution of botanical-based biofertilizers and pesticides for the agricultural sector. All production comes from its own forests, with the neem tree (very common in South Asia) being the main protagonist. What catches my attention is the team's engagement and strong purpose based on a solid organizational culture. The big challenge, on the other hand, is to gain scale and reduce dependence on the distribution system, gaining strength in direct sales and operations in cooperatives, to give traction to the bio-defensive pipeline, which requires high investments in regulatory matters.
When I see that more than 78% of farmers still manage their property using paper notebooks or Excel spreadsheets, the market opportunity for Aegro becomes clear. This startup, in my opinion, has a simple product, when compared to more sophisticated ERPs, and a team and technical assistance service that make a difference for the evolution of the rural producer. With its management application, the farmer has a detailed view of the trajectory of his resources throughout the harvest, from seeds to the sale of production, through real indicators that help to monitor and measure the quality of the business. Present in more than 4,700 properties in Brazil, Aegro already has more than 2 million hectares assisted. Now, the big challenge is to scale to more farmers and integrate some technologies for the producer to manage his business from one place.
I don't know if I can call Aliare a startup, due to its size and commercial traction, but if in the technology startups environment, we have giants like TOTVS, Aliare is one of my strong candidates even for the Big 4 Agtechs. Coming from the legacy of three large companies: the Siagri Group (focused on software development for agribusiness), Datacoper (leader in CRM) and BTG Pactual (which through its Impact Fund, seeks to invest in companies with high potential positive return), Aliare was born as a platform for cooperation in agribusiness. Connecting people, tools, and companies, it seeks to unite all the applications needed for agro in a single platform.
In addition, Aliare has an incubator for agribusiness, in which a total of 6 six startups are contributing to bringing innovation to the chain. Currently, the company is present in around 30% of the agricultural distributors of the main brands in the country and has its technology used by 41% of the large cooperatives in the agro-segment. Among rural producers of grain and cotton, it reaches the mark of 2.5 million hectares managed by its software. Altogether, the platform has more than 50 thousand users and serves more than 4 thousand establishments. In my view, Aliare's challenge will be to create the culture to bring together various companies and solutions within its offer.
6th Grain Brazil:
6th Grain Brazil is an American company that saw its great opportunity to grow in Brazil. With strong partnerships in Europe, with Syngenta and Basf, and in Africa, with the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. Understanding high precision algorithms and predictive models is key to monitoring crop productivity in real time. In a fully digital way, producers can compare their daily productivity with previous productivity and even with the performance of their neighbors with surprising assertiveness. The startup's team of scientists includes 12 PhDs, many of them with NASA experience. In Brazil, the company already has solid partnerships, among them with the Crop inputs distributor Sinagro and Adubos Araguaia. Through relationship programs, its objective is to make customers have high productivity.
The carbon market also emerged at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change during ECO-92 in Rio de Janeiro and, after almost 30 years, it shows signs that it will grow. In this context, the biggest challenge will be to measure and reward the farmer for practices in favor of a more sustainable agriculture that may be able to change the course of climate change. Brazil emerges as a strong candidate to be a power in this market, as we adopt managements such as direct planting, which can absorb 300 kg more carbon per hectare than conventional planting, in addition to being able to produce two crops per year in the same area. By automatically monitoring the health of the soil and different crops, Regrow measures and verifies the carbon stocks in the soil, which is essential to implement payment for environmental services. With its Sustainability Module, the startup helps to map conservation practices in large areas, even remotely. With the Carbon Module, it helps to quantify the effect of adopting conservation practices in crops, calculating N2O leaching rates and soil organic carbon sequestration (SOC).
The use of drones in Brazilian agriculture is growing exponentially and, today, 27% of farmers already carry out some type of operation with this equipment, whether to collect images, rationalize maps, disperse seeds, or even apply pesticides. In this market, SarDrones works to expand the use of biological control, mainly in the cultivation of sugarcane, and works to disperse seeds in forests. Together with the Government of the State of São Paulo, the company is dispersing seeds of local species to promote reforestation. In the case of sugarcane, its performance is strong in areas of mills, for the application of Cotesia and Trichograma. With 5 dispenser models developed, the startup has already covered over 150 thousand hectares providing its services.
Founded in São João da Boa Vista (SP) in 2015, by rural producers Kriss Corso and Josué Corso, Perfect Flight has an aerial spraying management system. The system was built in a cloud environment (cloud computing), which allows it to run on any computer with internet access. With Perfect Flight's software, it is possible to maintain a safe distance from the places that must be preserved and avoid reaching groundwater and generating a series of environmental problems, such as the mortality of soil macrofauna and microfauna and the consequent contamination of rivers and lakes. Another advantage of adopting the service is related to the mitigation of risks to pollinating insects, especially bees, due to the safety margin it imposes on the aero-agricultural operation. Today, the startup has more than 15 million hectares processed and is expanding its operations in the United States.
The health of the soil should be, in a short period of time, one of the biggest concerns of the Brazilian farmer/cattle breeder. If it wasn't enough that our soils are poor and acidic, they are also poor when we talk about microbiota. The no-till technique helped us a lot to improve this factor, but there is still ample room to evolve, in which Biome4all helps with its bioinformatics technology for the genetic interpretation of the soil that helps the farmer in decision making. The decision-making process is relatively simple and depends on: (1) collecting the soil to have a microbial sample; (2) the decoding of genetic diversity with state-of-the-art techniques for the identification of fungi and bacteria; (3) data analysis, with complete taxonomy of the soil microbiota.
With all this information at hand, the farmer/cattleman can take better care of the health of his soil and still obtain better lines of financing, reduce the use of chemical inputs, and increase his productivity.
Through a marketplace for the sale of B2B agricultural inputs, AgriAcordo seeks to connect industries, distributors, and cooperatives in order to make a market that today is around US$ 30 billion in Brazil more efficiently. With its challenges, this market is known for its low profit margin and the great fluctuation of prices between regions and crops. AgriAcordo's proposal is to connect buyers and sellers in the wholesale sector in a simple way and provide transparency to prices.
Given so many high potential solutions, it has been very enriching for me to study the agtech market, which motivated me to create my own. Since September, I have been working to develop Valeouro biotec, a platform for tropicalization of bio solutions for Brazil. Valeouro proposes to be the connection platform between international companies that want to enter the Brazilian bio-solutions market, and universities, distributors and farmers who can facilitate this process. Now, our portfolio already has more than 30 products. But I must confess that it hasn't been easy, hence my redoubled admiration for the agtechs and their visionary founders.
With them, I learned that you must be passionate about the idea, obstinate and hardworking. After all, many of these companies needed to reinvent themselves, and this doesn't happen in planned cycles, it happens every day so that, finally, the solution will be successful and reach a list of highlights.