Iron Ox: Why Eniac believes AI and robotics are the future of local, healthy produce and sustainable farming.
By Vic Singh, Founding General Partner, Eniac Ventures
Eniac recognizes AI and robotic automation is the future of efficiency, productivity, and accessibility across industries, and currently, agriculture and food production are industries that are critical to the planet.
This is why we are excited to announce that we’ve led a $3M seed round of funding.
When we met Iron Ox we knew immediately that what they were doing was unique from all other companies tackling urban, vertical or sustainable farming. Iron Ox is on a mission to make environmentally-sustainable automated farming local to yield fresh organic greens that are more accessible and at a lower cost than traditional farms.
Founded by Brandon Alexander and Jon Binney, the San Francisco Bay Area-based company is bringing the future of produce production closer to consumption. And not only that but through their proprietary robotic automation and AI, they will amass the largest data set around crop production. This will create valuable information that can drastically improve farming production. Iron Ox’s data will be able to create and re-create optimal variables and conditions for each produce variety increasing yields, while saving resources and offsetting waste.
We believe in the Team
We spent a lot of time with Brandon, Jon and the Iron Ox team, and immediately, we were impressed. Brandon, a former Google X engineer with a family history in farming and agriculture, has more than 10 years of career experience in software and robotics engineering, with a focus on how autonomous robots can work together. But what stood out the most to us was his passion to make fresh, local, healthy food accessible and affordable.
Jon Binney, Iron Ox’s CTO is one of the leading robotics engineers in the world. He holds a PhD in Computer Science and robotics from USC and has been focused on autonomous robotic grasping and computer vision, Previously, he worked with Brandon for five years as a research engineer at Willow Garage.
Before Iron Ox launched, they spent months touring farms up and down the California coast, meeting with farmers and touring all types of farms to study what was working, what was broken, what could can be reinvented and how automation could play into this solution.
The team has the technical chops we always look for, the true grit of entrepreneurs and the unrelenting drive for success that motivates us. It only takes a brief conversation with the team to know that they are the foremost experts on automated farming and the future of produce production.
We believe in the future of farming
With multiple strains on traditional farming and the land, from climate change to the growing population, the time has come to rethink how we grow (and transport) our food. Automation will dramatically improve production efficiencies and reduce resource needs. In fact, Iron Ox reported their hydroponic system uses 90% less water than outdoor farming.
With a world-class team Iron Ox is leading the way for the future of farming. Their two part robotic automated system and the technology is groundbreaking. They’re developing machine learning algorithms to automatically identify any threats or unhealthy plants and remove them before spreading or infecting other plants. Their system removes repetitive tasks faster and gets the job done more efficiently and precise by leveraging the data.
We believe in the Data
Iron Ox is set to have the largest set of data around agriculture and produce production. They are working to have 3D models of every leafy green plant. Their system can see, identify and track every variable — such as growth, water intake, spores, infestation, etc — and understand the conditions for optimal growth, health, and overall lifecycle.
We believe in Iron Ox
While there are many players getting involved in vertical farming, urban farming, aqua farming, we believe that Iron Ox is different. They’ve set themselves apart by automating the whole process, every single aspect from the ground up, coupled with their data set. Their system will be able to improve every type of farming, with the potential to be leveraged by other types of production.
Their dedication and passion is contagious, and we are excited to help them continue to grow and bring better, fresher produce to the world.