Vence, the leading supplier of virtual fencing and herd management solutions for sustainable animal protein production, has raised $NZ16 million /$US12 million.
The funding will help Vence scale the delivery of its platform in its entry markets - the US and Australia. The company is building tools which enable precision livestock farming and are driving the adoption of regenerative practices while improving profitability for the farmers.
Vence was founded in 2016 after Kiwi Jasper Holdsworth, whose family has run a livestock farm near Gisborne for over 100 years, identified an opportunity. Reviewing the cost structure on the farm he pondered a way to use technology to complement animal movement and management. Instead of trying to solve the problem himself he reached into his network to find people who could help build a solution…and a business was built.
In 2017, Vence was selected as one of just 20 startups worldwide to pitch to investors as part of FoodBytes!, an international programme from Rabobank that drives connections and collaboration between startups, corporate leaders, investors and farmers to implement solutions to food system challenges. Since then, Vence has gone from strength to strength and, this month (May 2021) it has announced its successful capital raise led by Tyche Partners. California-based Tyche Partners is a venture capital firm focusing on investments in early and early growth stage companies with disruptive technologies.
The funding includes participation from existing investors; Rabobank Food & Ag Innovation Fund, Grantham Environmental Trust’s Neglected Climate Opportunities fund and Eniac Ventures as well as new investors JMI Equity and Trailhead Partners.
Tony Chao from Tyche Partners said, “At Tyche, we love rolling up our sleeves and solving hard problems alongside passionate founders with a transformational vision. Vence has built an incredibly compelling solution that touches our daily diets, make tremendous economic sense for its rancher customers, and has the potential to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. We are excited to play a role in advancing Vence’s vision and improve the financial and environmental well-being of an important pillar of the economy.”
“Pastureland represents over a third of global land mass and there are more livestock globally than there are cars – yet less than 1% of the livestock industry is digitized. We see this as ripe opportunity to help transform one of the world’s largest ($2T+) and most mature industries by providing tools for farmers to enable data driven decisions and enable precision management.” said Frank Wooten, CEO and co-founder of Vence.
Richard O’Gorman, Managing Director Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund said “We originally connected with Vence through the FoodBytes! platform, invested in 2018 and have since worked closely with the company to accelerate the remote herd management solution,” said “Together with a great investor syndicate we are thrilled to continue to support this highly relevant, sustainable technology and accelerate its offering to the livestock community.”
Until Sunday 16 May 2021, Kiwi agtech, food tech and consumer food and beverage startups are invited to apply for selection to present at the FoodBytes! global virtual pitch competition in November.
Nathalie Gibson, Rabobank Head of Innovation, Knowledge & Networks, who is leading the search for startups across Australasia, including New Zealand, said, “We’re scouting for startups with validated business models, demonstrated commercial traction, a robust, diverse team and a cross-industry collaborative mindset, and that have the potential to drive meaningful and sustainable change throughout the food value chain. We would like to discover and grow more startups like we have supported Vence.”
Vence has received interest from nearly 5,000 livestock farms globally. The company will be ramping deployment of the first commercial version of its product this year on farms across the US and Australia. Over time, however, the company’s goals are much larger. The grasslands are the world’s second largest carbon sink behind the ocean, and rotational grazing has been shown to accelerate the pace at which those lands sequester carbon. Vence believes by building tools to help manage animals and improve productivity, they can enable the quicker adoption of these practices.
Frank Wooten said, “For regenerative agriculture to work at scale, it needs to generate profits for farmers/ranchers as well as enhance their quality of life. We built a platform which does both.”