Agritech robotics startup TartanSense secures USD 5million in Series A funding. The round was led by FMC Ventures and Omnivore, with participation from active investor Blume Ventures. This gets the total funds raised by the firm to USD 7million, after raising a USD 2million Seed round in March 2019. TartanSense sets up small agricultural robots, equipped with AI-assisted computer vision, to help small farms reduce their expenditures and improve their incomes.
TartanSense is assisting smallholder farmers who struggle with low yields, primarily driven by two reasons – poor chemical spraying techniques and unreliable farm labour.
Jaisimha Rao, Founder, TartanSense, stated, “Our mission is to make smallholder farmers wealthier by shipping monetizable robots. TartanSense will have the world’s largest fleet of agriculture robots in the next 18 months. We are grateful to have amazing investors like FMC Ventures, Omnivore, and Blume Ventures backing us in our passion to empower farmers.”
TartanSense’s robots are an affordable precision agriculture solution for all chief farming activities – sowing, spraying, weeding, and harvesting – which simultaneously drive down cultivation costs while improving crop yields.
Karthik B Reddy, Managing Partner, Blume
Ventures, stated, “Jaisimha and team TartanSense have been committed to solve large scale agri problems for farmers since we first met 3 years ago. By building one of the most robust computer-vision led weeding technologies for Indian conditions, we are excited to invest further. We believe TartanSense will reach many corners of global farming and will best solve for several precision farming use cases”.
BladeRunner, TartanSense’s latest robot, can identify, precisely locate, and mechanically uproot undesirable weeds and spot spray on the desired crop – reducing chemical usage by 45% as well as increasing weeding efficiency by 7 times. The future of agriculture is this combination of machine learning software and frugal hardware, supporting farmers move from farm-level decision making to plant-level decision making.
Based in Bangalore, TartanSense was originally founded in 2015 by Jaisimha Rao, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University who returned to India after working as a quant on Wall Street. He soon accumulated a core team of Carnegie Mellon alumni with rich experience in robotics, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering. The Carnegie Mellon linkage at TartanSense even extends to the firm name since students and alumni of CMU are referred to as Tartans.
Amar Singh, Managing Director at FMC Ventures, commented, “TartanSense is a pioneer in ground-based precision spraying in India. With growers’ interest in mind, it has developed a unique, low-cost precision application technology with a very high level of accuracy. FMC Ventures is excited to support TartanSense as they combine artificial intelligence and robotics to improve how growers apply crop inputs.”
Mark Kahn, Managing Partner at Omnivore, noticed, “TartanSense’s innovation in precision agritech can accelerate the transformation of Indian agriculture. We were privileged to be one of the first institutional investors in TartanSense and remain so as the startup reaches new milestones.”
India is the largest grower of cotton in the world, with 33 million acres under cultivation and an average weeding pay out of $100 per acre. The market potential only for weeding in cotton is over 3 billion USD yearly. TartanSense targets to focus on cotton as well as several other crops with high cost of weeding.