A management software system helping aquaculture farmers track stock and equipment via GPS technology has raised $1.45 million in a funding round led by Katapult VC as it looks to expand its global presence with a new fintech feature.
Batemans Bay-based Oceanfarmr will use the fresh funding to launch a new offering 'Farm to Buy' to its US customers, which allows aquaculture farmers - predominantly in oysters - to access the kind of secure financing that is usually reserved for land farmers.
Previously known as SmartOyster, the company was founded five years ago by marine biologist-turned-oyster-farmer Ewan McAsh, who opted to develop a digital solution after he felt trapped managing the day-to-day operations of his business.
“Before developing the app, I was using my memory, whiteboards and spreadsheets – which weren’t fast, were prone to sometimes costly mistakes and could be an arduous task at the end of the working day and week,” said McAsh, who built the company alongside Philip Browning and James Horton.
“Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with our farmers across Australia, the US and Europe and hear first-hand the economic and environmental challenges they’ve faced over the last three years and how Oceanfarmr has allowed them to do what they do best and remove those typical pain points that have been the standard practice for years and years.
“Those stories are a reminder of why we first launched and the funding is a huge piece of the puzzle in how we ramp up our capabilities to continue serving the aqua farming industry and the people who make it all happen.”
According to US-based market data company MarketWatch, the global aquaculture market was valued at US$204 billion (AUD$307 billion) in 2020 and is expected to reach US$262 billion (AUD $394 billion) by the end of 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 per cent from 2021-2026.
The largest regions for aquaculture are the Asia-Pacific, South Asia, and Europe, which account for more than 70 per cent of the world’s aquaculture production.
Oceanfarmr’s monitoring technology serves aquafarms worldwide, including customers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK, and the US - which accounts for the majority of its clientele.
To help farmers access water-based farmland, earlier this year Oceanfarmr launched fintech program Farm to Buy as an alternative to farming finance. While land-based agricultural farms often have the option of land as an asset to secure financing, aquaculture farmers have traditionally found it more difficult to access capital as water-based farmland is not privately owned.
Since launching, the company claims to have increased revenue by 874 per cent, placing them three years ahead of original revenue projections. Oceanfarmr currently has more than $60 million in farm funding applications.
It is also one of the top 23 impact tech companies to receive investment from Katapult VC, placing it in the top 1 per cent of all 1,900 candidates to enter the accelerator program.
Oslo-based Katapult, which invests in oceantech, climatetech and foodtech, has run nine flagship accelerator programs and three corporate accelerator programs since its inception five years ago.
“We’re proud to be one of the 23 startups that will take part in the Katapult Accelerator 2022 program,” McAsh said.
“Oceanfarmr was built to revolutionise the aquaculture industry, and with this funding we will be able to accelerate our mission.
“We are already looking forward, and will be focusing on building traction as we bridge to a series A raise in the new year.”
Oceanfarmer is in the midst of adding new features, including harvest reporting – which allows farmers to streamline sales orders and shipping schedules. It’s also looking to implement timecards, allowing managers to assign employees tasks and monitor staffing levels.
“In our mission to build a world where thriving ocean and economic development can exist in harmony, we are committed to investing in and helping to scale the most impactful ocean-tech startups,”
“We are delighted to have Oceanfarmr on board and we look forward to the journey ahead through the accelerator program and beyond.” Katapult Ocean CEO Jonas Skattum Svegaarden said.
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