The following article was published by Seana Day of the The Mixing Bowl, appearing in Forbes. SWIIM is listed in the matrix (in the lower-left-hand-corner).
Seana Day has released an updated version of her AgTech Landscape Map and provided her latest perspective on the AgTech market.
We have adopted a new format (available for download here) to reflect the ever-evolving mosaic of companies entering the Food & AgTech fray. In this post, I will look at what’s happening in the AgTech field, with investment and consolidation activity as a backdrop. I will also highlight some key drivers in the post-harvest technology segment fueling the proliferation of companies popping up to meet the big challenges (and opportunities) in the supply chain.
The good news is that we are beginning to see some winners emerge in the in-field and crop / farm management segments. Using Agfunder’s 2016 Agtech Funding report throughout this piece, we see $405 million invested in Precision Ag companies in 2016 and it is clear that the big dogs are separating themselves from the pack evidenced by 38% of those investment dollars going into only six deals. Although, it is worth cautioning that big funding doesn’t necessarily equate to big winners.
What’s Happening In the Field
With Series A funding dollars down 43% in 2016, it suggests we are seeing a crunch that may drive opportunistic consolidation of in-field point solutions into more comprehensive offerings. Since the beginning of 2016, 29 AgTech M&A deals have been announced and of those, 21 were non-biological or chemical / fertilizer-based companies, with five of the 21 acquired by Scott’s Miracle Grow. This lack of AgTech technology exits does not appear to be a terribly healthy M&A environment for investors seeking short-term returns.
So what are the conditions we need to see for a healthier AgTech M&A environment? At a fundamental level, the business models should be proven and customer adoption growing on a stable trajectory. This implicitly means that people are willing to pay for a product or service and it has demonstrated value in their organization making it a “need to have”, not a “nice to have”. The route to market and distribution should be scalable, which has proven somewhat elusive for many companies in the Precision Ag market to-date. Finally, one of the necessary conditions is a having a middle market with the currency (e.g. stock or well-funded balance sheet) to make acquisitions that fill product / tech gaps, open new markets, or consolidate customers.
My expectation for the rest of 2017 is that we will continue to see opportunistic acquisitions as Agribusiness incumbents feel the pressure to have an “AgTech Strategy” and early stage companies seek a lifeline in merging with others to bolster customer bases (paying…not just trials), look for distribution economies of scale, and save on redundant costs. Those that can successful execute the latter make themselves more attractive to growth equity and private equity investors and ultimately become those middle market consolidators we need in the AgTech ecosystem.
As published at Forbes.com, By The Mixing Bowl, Seana Day, Contributor
Original URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/themixingbowl/2017/06/13/2017-agtech-landscape-whats-on-the-horizon/#848a69236ae3