Discover more from Startup Pirate by Alex Alexakis
Agtech trends to keep an eye on and Greek agtech startups, AI and product management, lessons learned building high-growth companies, back to the startup garage, funding rounds, jobs, and more
Welcome back to Startup Pirate, a newsletter about tech trends and advice for startups. If you’re interested in Greek tech and startups, I got you covered: news, jobs, resources, product launches, and events. Come aboard and join 4,420 others. Still not a subscriber? Here’s what you recently missed:
The fates of agriculture and climate change are inextricably linked. Avoiding a climate catastrophe is core to our species’ survival, and to do so, we need more sustainable and resilient agriculture. Driven by shifts in eating habits, population growth, climate change, and failing soils, our agriculture industry faces moonshot-sized challenges with farmers walking the thinnest of tightropes: feed the world while saving the planet.
It’s all in the ancient scripts of Indian Vedas from 4,000 years ago:
Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Care for it and it will grow our food, our fuel, our shelter, and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.
To better understand how technology is transforming agriculture, we teamed up with Thaleia Misailidou to map the Greek agtech startup ecosystem and asked seven thoughtful founders and investors to share the trend they believe is worth watching. Big industrials and prominent funds have backed some of the teams in this list (CNH Industrial - Augmenta / Balderton - Better Origin / Point Nine - Wikifarmer).
Let’s get to it.
Greek Agtech Market Map
Disclaimer: The list is by no means exhaustive. Funding information was gathered from public online sources, and for companies that haven’t publicly disclosed their funding amount or are bootstrapped, the equivalent field is blank.
What to Watch in Agtech
Automate farming processes to offer higher yields and promote sustainability
Agriculture is on the cusp of disruption. A number of factors are creating the tailwinds for a true revolution in agriculture technology, from social and demographic changes to globalisation, supply chain integration, climate change, and tightening regulation. Meanwhile, farmers, who are risking their livelihoods every year, are now asked to prioritize sustainability. Technology comes to the rescue, with companies such as Augmenta, which uses computer vision to automate farming processes offering farmers higher yields. By applying the right amount of crop input per every inch of the field, Augmenta saves the farmer costs and the environment harmful chemicals. Companies which combine sustainability with efficiency for farmers will make all the difference in this fourth agricultural revolution.
Revamp agriculture through farmer education
Agriculture is one of the last industries to be digitized. As a result, the industry's value and supply chain have been filled with inefficiencies that negatively impact farmers' profitability, the environment, and the economy. On the other hand, producers' access to the internet has increased massively, creating excellent opportunities for startups such as Wikifarmer to disrupt the market, disintermediate the industry, and educate farmers, helping them achieve higher profits. This will allow them to re-invest in their farms and enhance their production capacity. This transformation will positively impact buyers and revamp the agricultural economy, creating significant opportunities for financing, logistics, and technological solutions. The industry’s reshaping has already started, and in 5 years, things will be completely different.
Mitigate food risk factors across the supply chain
How can we use digital technologies to prevent people from getting sick from unsafe food? Can AI help us predict and prevent such incidents from happening? All major stakeholders in the food industry currently focus on these questions; either global manufacturers like Nestlé and Mondelēz or governmental agencies like the US FDA. This is why several tech companies in the agtech/foodtech space are focused on collecting high-quality data from various stages of the supply chain and then deploying AI-powered predictive analytics to early identify emerging risks. The key challenge that I see in being successful is to understand the microbial, chemical, and adulteration risk factors that may impact our food before deploying such technologies to help detect and mitigate them.
Monitor food freshness to unlock safety, efficiency, sustainability
We believe in a future where food supply chain stakeholders and regulators leverage technology to create a common language and understanding of food production. By offering end-to-end monitoring, stakeholders gain access to data that didn't previously exist, enabling faster decision-making. Standardizing terminology and monitoring processes across the industry are critical for everyone to speak the same language. Freshness monitoring is the key to unlocking a future of food that is safe, efficient, and sustainable.
Invest in infrastructure and a combination of hardware, software, and services
We see exciting opportunities in agtech for Greek startups around redesigning the food supply chain, from production to dissemination. In contrast to the straightforward B2B SaaS and software models, agtech companies that radically change how we produce and consume food will require investment in infrastructure and a combination of hardware, software, and services. As sustainability moves from important to urgent, there is space for startups that move fast and prove their execution capabilities. At the start of the supply chain, in food production, we see companies such as Better Origin having successfully moved deep tech from lab to field and serving large early adopter B2B clients. At the end of the supply chain, in consumption, marketplaces such as Wikifarmer are gaining traction by improving efficiencies through cost and resource savings. The next challenge is delivering those solutions consistently with constantly improving unit economics at scale. Also exciting to see Greek agtech startup hubs developing, especially outside the main centres — those companies should be bold and address advanced, large, and uniform global markets early on.
Produce food with biotechnology
Climate change, overpopulation and livestock revolution are the biggest challenges humanity is currently facing. Natural resources are also finite. We need at minimum two areas of land equal to the size of Brazil if we keep relying on the old-fashioned ways of food and energy production. Biotechnology gives us the needed hope for highly functional, healthy, transparently produced, sustainable food production. At Solmeyea, our Biotech team produces the best in class white plant-based proteins, which are: 29x more efficiently grown than conventional crops, better quality in terms of functionality & nutritional value. All these with the lowest-ever negative carbon footprint, thanks to our IP-protected technology.
IoT and AI to revolutionize how we store, preserve, and transport crops
Waste in the agriculture supply chain is a problem that affects our planet, wallets, and future. Spoiled crops and shipments with quality problems translate to increased greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. Waste has another side-effect — it makes for poor use of precious resources such as land, energy, water, seeds, fertilizers, and more. It's time to revolutionize how we store, preserve, and transport our crops. Enter Centaur Internet-of-Crops®. With innovative IoT sensors and “explainable AI” powered by digital twin technology, we help supply chain stakeholders say goodbye to grain loss and hello to real-time monitoring and weather-resilient strategies. By harnessing the power of IoT and AI, we can make agriculture and food production sustainable, efficient, and ready for the future.
Looking for your next career move? Check out job openings from Greek startups hiring in Greece, abroad, and remotely.
Big Pi Ventures announced the launch of Big Pi II with a first closing of €50m to invest in deep tech companies with global outlook and R&D/product teams in Greece.
Breef, a platform that allows brands to manage and service marketing agency projects, raised $16m Series A.
Wikifarmer raised €5m Seed led by Point Nine to educate farmers across the world and connect them with the open market to sell their products at fair prices.
Perceptual Robotics announced a funding round to expand its drone inspection solutions led by Brookstreet Equity Partners.
Building management software, Billys, raised its first funding round of €800k from Genesis Ventures, Lamda Development, and angel investors.
ASCANIO, a mixed-reality software development company focused on training use cases, received €300k in funding from Kinisis Ventures.
Signal Ventures backed OilX, an oil analytics platform with teams across London, Athens and Vienna, was acquired.
Kick-off of French Tech Athens community.
This is a new section with a curation of new product launches from Greeks in tech. Any launch is a fair game: startups, products, side projects. Still experimenting with this, so please reach out with ideas on how to improve and hit me up with suggestions on what should be included in the next issue.
Interesting Reads & Podcasts
Fireside chat with Tasso Argyros, founder & CEO of ActionIQ, and George Tziralis, Partner at Marathon VC, discussing Tasso’s entrepreneurial journey and building two tech startups. (link)
The role of AI in product management and why every Product Manager will be an AI Product Manager in the future with Marily Nika, AI Product Leader at Meta. (link)
Startups and Greek tech with Konstantinos Gkovedaros, Associate at Genesis Ventures. (link)
Kostas Chalkias, co-founder & Chief Cryptographer of Mysten Labs, on Proof of Solvency models using zero-knowledge proofs, security vulnerabilities in crypto protocols, and more. (link)
Alex Trimis and Savvas Georgiou, founders of Welcome Pickups, discuss growing a company in a sustainable way, bouncing back from the pandemic, and what’s next for the travel industry. (link)
Product management in B2B startups and working together with sales with Jason Keramidas, Product Executive. (link)
Searching for a great platform-as-a-service experience by Lambros Petrou, Senior Software Engineer at Datadog. (link)
The impact of credit score movement on financial equality by Periklis Vasileiadis, Head of FinTech & EdTech Portfolio at Endeavor Greece. (link)
A brief thread on going back to the garage and underdogs:
“MeetUp #7” by React 2 React Athens Meetup on Feb 15
“Azure Cognitive Search & Application Insights” by AzureHeads Cloud Meetup on Feb 21
“Shift from Project to Product” by Product Community Greece on Feb 23
“Kotlin Coroutines and Dependencies management” by Kotlin Athens on Feb 23
“Mediterranean Machine Learning (M2L) summer school” in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 28 August to 2 September 2023
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