Agricool Raises 4M to Scale the #StrawberryPower
Today marks a big new step for Agricool and I’m happy to share it with the world: we’ve closed a fundraising round totaling €4M. Around the table, we only have people who share the same passion for bold tech solutions to huge problems: the new venture fund Daphni together with passionate entrepreneurs like Henri Seydoux, founder of Parrot and Jean Daniel Guyot, cofounder of Captain Train (now Trainline).
If you don’t yet know Agricool’s mission, here it is:
We will feed the planet with fruits and vegetables that are tasty, grown without pesticides and locally produced.
So why are these investors following our approach and betting €4M on Agricool? What have we proven so far, and what will we do next?
Let’s take a moment to glance in the rearview mirror before giving you a taste of 2017.
March 2015 — 2 Sons of Farmers — 1 Apartment — 2 Strawberries
We were disgusted with the strawberries we could buy in the city. So Gonzague and I (both sons of farmers) decided to build a farming system in our apartment. A few weeks later (and really, against all of our expectations) we had 2 strawberries waiting for us. And even more surprisingly, they tasted delicious and sweet!
We were shocked. How did our little experiment, with no preparation, no science, give us strawberries? Ok, only two, but still, real and delicious strawberries! Why does the rest of the world say it’s impossible to grow fruits and vegetables without pesticide in cities? Fear? Ignorance? Laziness?
Whatever, those two strawberries gave us the magic to keep going.
We wanted more. Much more.
October 2015 — First Cooltainer — Hundreds of Strawberries
We spent four months at Gonzague’s parents’ farm in the North of France to build our first Cooltainer — a shipping container transformed into a paradise for growing fruits and vegetables. We then brought it back to the city, settling it into a beautiful pedestrian area in Paris called the Parc de Bercy.
It wasn’t perfect at all. If we were still surfing on our enthusiastic vibe from those first 2 strawberries, we had to face it, our infrastructure wasn’t working like we wanted. Problems were coming from every part. Insects, water, electricity, temperature — all of the different actors in our strawberry play were coming up with new scenes every day, creating unexpected drama to manage. Time to start from scratch again. But still, every day we had some strawberries popping up. They were sweet, perfectly ripe, and had never even heard of the word “pesticide”. That first chaotic Cooltainer proved to us that we could optimize the solutions for a more optimistic agriculture.
And we had all of those strawberries to renew our energy. The historic duo was no longer alone :)
2016 — R&D — Thousands of Strawberries
It was time to get over the big obstacles and build a Cooltainer that was productive and profitable. We needed help. Agronomists, engineers, all kinds of talented people. We also needed a huge space — as huge as our motivation — to park our Cooltainers.
That’s why in the past year we have:
- Moved into a 1500 sq. meter warehouse. Rebuilding the future of agriculture isn’t the typical startup story where anyone can work remotely from anywhere. We’re all together in the warehouse, every day, all day.
- Conducted hundreds of scientific tests. We’re completely reinventing the way fruits and vegetables are grown. We’ve looked at the substrate, irrigation methods, LED spectrum and intensity, planting densities, air/CO2, hygrometry, biological protection for cultures…we’ve been busy.
- Designed and built 3 new Cooltainer prototypes. Each time, the new iteration has been more efficient, more reliable, more affordable and more connected.
- Hired 30 exceptional team members. They share Agricool’s dream and culture: attention to details, extreme motivation, strong commitment, and a green hacker’s mindset. They’re the reason why we can find new solutions, design, order, construct and test everything internally. Since the final result is the sum of their involvement, they know they have to master it and take responsibility. There is no way to hide failure when you’re growing strawberries. Either the strawberry is here, red, fresh & tasty…or not.
2017 — TakeOff — Avalanche of Strawberries!
Today, the results are here: our production has grown ten times over the past year, without any loss in quality and of course without any pesticides.
So here are the goals for 2017:
- Starting industrial production of Cooltainers early in the year to install 75 of them in greater Paris in 2017;
- Distributing 91 tons of strawberries;
- Testing two other crops, in addition to strawberries. Even if we love strawberries, Agricool will keep on growing additional fruits and vegetables, all with the same promise: local, delicious, no pesticides.
We all want to eat better fruits and vegetables. What started as an experiment by two guys unhappy with the strawberries they were eating is becoming something meaningful for everyone. No one wants to eat pesticides anymore. No one wants to harm the planet with the pollution that comes from transporting food. Everyone wants to find real flavor again, the flavor that our grandparents had with their fruits and vegetables. And there’s only one way to do that: to stop wishing and start making it happen.
So let’s do it together ;)
1) Changing people’s minds takes time; we need everyone who believes in us and what we’re trying to do with Agricool to help us. So share this post, ping your friends, email your family.
2) Do you wanna eat fresh Agricoolture? We’re looking for 25 locations for our Cooltainers in and just around Paris. Ideally each location would house 3 Cooltainers, so roughly 150sqm of space is needed at each location.
3) Our fabulous team will keep on growing. If you’re up for an adventure, apply here.
The future is going to be super tasty.