Map of Ag will aim to help farmers across the world improve their yields, their performance, their businesses and their returns on capital employed. The Map of Ag products are designed to be accessible from mobile, tablet and PC devices.
The Founders of Map of Ag are Forbes Elworthy and Jim Williams, the founder of Precision Prospecting Ltd (“Precision Prospecting”), a research provider with data on 72,000 UK farmers. Precision Prospecting is intended to be a full subsidiary of Map of Ag by the time this fund-raise closes.
Forbes’ family have been NZ farmers for several generations. Forbes worked at Goldman Sachs and other investment banks in London in fixed income markets. Forbes then created a software business for pricing fixed income investment instruments which he successfully exited to CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) making an over 6 x return on investment for his investors.
Following the exit to CME, Forbes created Craigmore Sustainables, a farmland investment funds group, responsible for £200 m of farming assets. Map of Agriculture Limited was born out of Craigmore Sustainables as its research arm.
Map of Agriculture Limited, now an independent company, provides farm decision support, budgeting and benchmarking tools to the Craigmore farms.
In early 2016, by the time this fund-raise closes, it is anticipated Map of Agriculture Group will have acquired Precision Prospecting Ltd and Map of Agriculture Ltd. to create Map of Agriculture Group, to directly integrate data for, the Directors estimate, a network of 80,000 farmers.
The Company is addressing what it believes are the following opportunities:
– The Farming industry is rapidly “digitizing”. As this occurs, decisions that were once “rules of thumb” are becoming analytically supported decisions.
– Farming, a sector that “makes 20 decisions a day and must get 19 of them right” , is a data-rich sector which provides many opportunities for improved decision support and process automation tools.
– Farm value chains need independent “integrator” platforms such as Map of Ag to assist specialist suppliers to integrate offerings to the farmer.
– Map of Ag, through its two subsidiaries, currently has 190 contracts in core UK and NZ markets, reaching 80,000 farmers, providing a strong base for growth.
– The Directors estimate that worldwide there are approximately 5,000 Farm Service Organisations (“FSOs”) of sufficient scale to afford Map of Ag’s services.
What sets Map of Agriculture apart?
Map of Ag believes its key value add is the data integration and “productisation” services the Company plans to provide. Map of Ag aims to link data from different sources (farm input, processor, financial, production) and help farmers to visualise this in simple formats. Map of Ag seeks to be a “platform” not just a single tool. It believes that farmers do not wish to have to integrate multiple services and also that they seek integrated, multi-product platforms that can optimise as much of their information and communication needs as possible.
Map of Agriculture’s products are intended to link farmers to their Farm Service Organisations
To help make their business decisions, the Company believes that farmers need data from markets, from other farmers and from other information sources (e.g. governments, weather services, land agencies, commodity markets). They then consume this data within real time operational, budget, benchmarking and compliance tools.
Meanwhile, it believes that Farm Service Organisations (“FSOs”) such as seed suppliers, agricultural banks and machinery manufacturers, also seek farming data to help them understand their own market, sales opportunities and risks. And to enhance their services to farmers.
Map of Ag plans to serve both farmers and FSOs. The Company also builds products which “link” famers with their service providers. In this sense, Map of Ag acts as a connectivity platform.
The companies in the Group aim to create synergies through sharing data, technology and expertise; and having access to each other’s marketing/distribution channels. For example, software products developed by Map of Agriculture Ltd are marketed by the Precision Prospecting sales team; whilst data collected from Precision Prospecting are displayed in the Map of Agriculture Ltd products and databases Although it is anticipated that, by the time this fund-raise closes in early 2016, the acquisition of these companies by MOAG will have only recently been completed. Precision Prospecting Ltd and Map of Agriculture Ltd have been working together on client projects since 2015.
Map of Ag Group builds digital products that enable the Group to scale costs. A range of products are on offer but all are built on the same frameworks. All use the same reference data and all are marketed to the same client base in each country where Map of Ag builds distribution.
Unlike the farm consultant, who may be building customised excel analyses for each query, Map of Ag is aiming to capture margin by “re-using” as many standard components as possible.