GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) and DBL Partners co-led a $40 million investment in Farmer’s Business Network, Inc., the company announced on Tuesday. FBN started as something of a professional network for farmers and other agronomists. It allowed people working in agriculture to anonymously share information about what they were paying for seeds, fertilizers and other “inputs” that they need to raise healthy crops. It also allowed them to exchange information about the effectiveness of all of these products.
Bringing crowdsourced, price transparency and product information to the industry would help farmers negotiate for fair prices, FBN founder Amol Deshpande believed. The company claims to be saving farmers up to 50 percent on all the inputs they buy through the site’s service FBN Direct.
Formerly known as FBN Procurement, FBN Direct allows users to buy 500 different farm chemicals, fertilizers, seeds and seed treatments, at prices they set themselves. They tell FBN what price they are willing to pay, and then the tech startup goes out to attain what they need at that established price. Farmer-members of FBN can opt to pick up their supplies at a nearby warehouse, or have them shipped to their farm.
Along with GV and DBL Partners, investors in FBN’s Series C round of funding included Bow Capital and FBN’s earlier backers, Acre Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Venture capitalists have increasingly plowed funding into agriculture tech deals ever since the sale of Climate Corp. to Monsanto for about $1 billion in 2013. The presence of large, acquisitive companies and the uptake of technology like drones, robotics and sensors by farmers are all driving the investment trend.
The new funding for FBN brings the company’s total capital raised to $88 million. Last summer it announced a $20 million round led by Acre.