If Agricool can grow strawberries this way… 🍓
By : Cyril Bertrand
Delicious strawberries, farmed in Paris and available all year long? Yes sir! Agricool is raising a stunning new round of 25 million euros with Daphni, Danone Manifesto Ventures and Bpifrance. We’re proud to be part of this. .
“Why don’t you try one?”
Two guys trying to grow strawberries in a box. This is how Oussama Ammar introduced me to Agricool in 2017. He was backing them with The Family, as they were engineering their first prototype container.
We all met a few months later. The strawberries are available they said — we’re ready. Real fruits. Several kilos of them. How fast they had progressed… I was blown away. Agricool raised its series A with Daphni in 2016. We jumped-in the following year.
Going the hard way
Strawberries are very tangible. You can’t cheat: the fruit has to be there with the right color, texture, sugar, flavor and price, or it doesn’t qualify. Startups tackling such measurable products are rare. No offense, dear software founders, but think of the impact of a critical bug on a strawberry. And the quality is remarkable at Agricool. The fruits look beautiful and taste amazing — I guess we wouldn’t be talking otherwise.
Strawberries are also considered the most difficult fruit to grow, they need constant attention to light, temperature and humidity conditions. They are fragile too. Gonzague and Guillaume’s bet is that if they master the delicate red fruit, they can grow virtually anything. We’re getting there. There aren’t so many disruptions happening in the the food industry and this is one.
The number of hours put in by the founders is extreme. In the first months they lived 24/7 at their offices in La Courneuve near Paris, optimizing everything from LED to ventilation and the use of insects for pollination. It tells a lot about their passion, and the hard work necessary to bring great hardware and a unique service on the market.
This is the future
One container produces around 4 tons of fruit each year. In comparison, it takes around 1 hectare (100m by 100m) of conventional farming to get there in France. And a lot of pesticides too when Agricool doesn’t use any [bee emoji] (See here if you want to learn more about the technical aspects of the project.).
Agricool fits exactly the description of the “moonshots” we’re aiming for. It’s risky — in a positive, healthy way. It’s looking for impact (just imagine the potential of sustainable, quality agriculture in urban areas), and it relies on the excellent, next-level techs that our founders leverage to change the world. Think Wandercraft, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui, or KissKissBankBank… This is also what our money is for.
With the funds raised the Agricool team now has the means to scale the production capacity by a factor of up to 100. The new containers will be rolled-out in France of course but also in high-value areas such as Dubai or New York. It’s time to make food as tasty and healthy in big cities as on the countryside!