Agricultural technology startup Ricult has just raised US$1.85 million in its latest seed funding round led by dtac accelerate, Chanwanich Group, Wavemaker and 500 Tuktuks. Ricult had previously raised US$600,000 in earlier seed funding including a US$100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This brings the company’s total funding to date close to US$2.5 million.
Founded by MIT alums, Ricult is a digital platform to increase the efficiency of the agricultural value chain in developing countries, helping lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. Ricult has already launched in Thailand and Pakistan, providing farmers with tools that employ machine learning to analyze satellite imagery and microclimate weather data. The data allows farmers to better predict crop yields, pest prevention, proper fertilization, key harvesting times, and optimal crop rotations.
Aukrit Unahalekhaka, Co-Founder and CEO of Ricult Thailand said, “Ricult is a double-bottom line startup where we don’t only care only about the financial profitability of the company, but also the social impact that we can create to the smallholder farmers and their community. We want to make sure that our technology can really help make the farmer’s lives better and make the agricultural value chain more efficient. We are delighted to find investors who share the same vision and value as us.”
In early May 2017, Ricult joined batch 5 of dtac accelerate, which provides support to startups in the shape of funding, mentoring with globally-recognized experts, and offices in central Bangkok. dtac accelerate is Thailand’s most successful accelerator in terms of fundraising deals from its alumni. It counts three series A investments and eight seed investments for a total of US$20 million. dtac accelerate startups got 70 percent follow-on funding compared to a 20 percent regional average.
Sompoat Chansoomboon, director of dtac Accelerate, said, “Ricult is the only startup in this region to secure funds from the Gates Foundation and this new round of funding will allow them to further expand and help even more farmers throughout the world. dtac accelerate is very proud to have connected Ricult to both farmers and investors. The fact that we can support startups in terms of both investment and the ability to reach millions of customers is a unique feature of dtac accelerate.”
Ricult also provides services to agricultural businesses such as input suppliers and food processors. Its solution can help them accurately target their sales and sourcing, pointing them to the most fruitful regions of production and allowing them to manage price and supply fluctuation. Ricult’s precise data also helps banks to accurately score and price credit, increasing their willingness to lend and decreasing the risk of default, helping farmers to overcome capital constraints to business growth.
Ricult was established at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and began initial pilots in 2016 as part of the prestigious MIT Delta V accelerator program. Ricult was founded by founded by four MIT alums, coming in from Microsoft, Google, Accenture, and Telenor, a major shareholder of dtac.
dtac accelerate has helped 45 startups to grow and succeed. They have a combined value of over US$100 million. dtac accelerate just welcomed its sixth batch of digital enterprises.