Agtech startup motorleaf wants $750K to automate indoor farming


Montreal agtech startup motorleaf is setting its sights on $750,000 to help in the company’s bid to automate indoor farming.

The company graduated the FounderFuel accelerator program last month. It built a smart, automated indoor growing hardware and software platform for the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) sector. Growers can get data about their crops, learn what the crops need and instruct equipment to answer those needs.

CEO Alistair Monk told MTLinTECH that the campaign has gone well financially but he couldn’t go into specifics.

However, “we have received literally hundreds of enquiries from indoor farmers simply asking to order the motorleaf suite of products to companies wishing to distribute, to investors looking to join our round,” said Monk.

The campaign isn’t on Indiegogo or Kickstarter, two of the usual places startups come to for their crowdfunding needs. Rather, it’s on the agtech-focused AgFunder, which calls itself the leading agriculture-focused online investment platform.

motorleaf

The company was founded by Monk and Ramen Dutta. The pair have designed and built four hardware units, each with a wireless mesh network enabled that send grower’s data to their cloud-based software.

Interestingly, the company first called its product the “HUB” for “huge ugly box.”

“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,” said CEO Alastair Monk. “So he started hacking together what we eventually called the HUB, which was giant but started to offer the solutions he wanted.”

The company has since reduced the size of this box significantly in an “elegant and functional” design.

Indoor growing has a unique set of challenges, says the company. Growers must control for all of the elements that impact a plant (lighting, temperature and humidity for example) 365 days per year. One misstep in the growing process can kill an entire crop.

But motorleaf feels its solution will connect growers with their own plants and fellow growers. That will give growers the tools to produce a better quality, higher yielding product, reducing risk and operating costs.

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