Zetifi’s $12m Series A investment to boost on-farm connectivity in regional Australia
Enabling farmers with greater connectivity and driving productivity on-farm are key priorities for wireless networking company Zetifi, that’s just scored a $12 million Series A investment round to scale up production and support widespread adoption.
Wagga Wagga-based connectivity company Zetifi an AgriFutures evokeAG. Startup Program alumni has raised $12m through a Series A funding round led by Telstra and GrainCorp, with participation from existing investors including Cultiv8 Funds Management, GrainInnovate, and Artesian.
The company’s long-range Wi-Fi coverage extension products address a major barrier to the digitalisation of agriculture and are recognised as a foundational technology that will unlock significant value from on-farm digital technologies in the years ahead.
“Our experiences over the last few years confirm that agriculture and the ag services sector are eager to adopt digital technology and automation, as long they have a connectivity solution that supports it,” said Zetifi CEO and Founder, Dan Winson.
Zetifi’s involvement in AgriFutures evokeAG. Programs, including Startup Alley in 2019, Startup Showcase 2020, and the Investor Pitch Dinner 2022 have each played an important role in the startup’s development, facilitating adoption and cultivating industry connections. Zetifi will also participate in the upcoming evokeAG. 2023 Startup Alley.
“We first met the Artesian team when they launched GrainInnovate at evokeAG., and we met the GrainCorp team at the evokeAG. Investor Pitch Dinner.”
“The evokeAG. Investor Pitch Dinner provided the perfect opportunity for Zetifi to increase our profile across the broader investment community while having an informal catch up over dinner and drinks with investors who we were looking to work with in our Series A, including the team from GrainCorp Ventures who we first met at the dinner.”
Dan credits Zetifi’s focus on the unique connectivity needs of agriculture and remote areas, and proximity to these customers from their regional base, for much of their success to date.
“We approached the problem from the farmers’ perspective and the ability to be on-farm testing our ideas within a few minutes has accelerated the development of our products and technology,” said Dan.
“It’s allowed us to rapidly iterate and refine the scalable applications of our technology that we’ll now be preparing for the mass-market.
“This will involve doubling our software and product teams, scaling manufacturing to support demand in Australia, and taking on the US market within the next 12-18 months.”
“evokeAG. has provided valuable opportunities for Zetifi’s team to meet and catch up with farmers and a range of industry stakeholders including grower groups, machinery companies, agricultural service providers, input suppliers, startups and investors. These contacts have directly led to sales and commercial pilots, and most importantly provided us with learning opportunities that have been critical to our success.”
Investment set to drive innovation in regional Australia
Telstra’s investment reflects its commitment to supporting connectivity and innovation for the benefit of regional and remote communities.
Luke Harwood, Head of Innovation & Managing Director of Telstra’s early-stage investment arm, muru-D explained: “We’ve worked with Dan and the Zetifi team since they were part of our muru-D startup accelerator program in 2019. We’re thrilled to see the progress they have made since then and the support we can provide as they scale.”
“There is massive opportunity for technology to help Aussie farmers boost agricultural output and play a bigger part in Australia’s growing digital economy. Innovations like those developed by Zetifi and our other agtech investments that leverage our network and scale for the benefit of farmers, local jobs and local communities are great examples of the solutions we want to support.”
Zetifi’s promise as a productivity enabler for agriculture is well illustrated by the strong support and investor backing in this round from the Australian grains industry, with co-lead investment from GrainCorp, and additional investment from GrainInnnovate.
For GrainCorp, the investment is a fitting first step for their $30 million GrainCorp Ventures fund established in May.
“Connectivity is a key enabler for the advancement of modern agriculture,” said GrainCorp CEO Robert Spurway.
“Australian growers are early adopters of technological innovation on-farm, and it’s a credit to their resilient nature that they continue to lead the way on digital advancements,” he said.
“GrainCorp Ventures focuses on identifying and accelerating the next generation of technologies that will keep growers ahead of the competition, and that’s what we see in Zetifi.
“Many of the people at GrainCorp also live and work alongside growers and our customers in regional communities and experience connectivity issues firsthand, so partnering with Zetifi will help to unlock significant value for the agricultural sector.”
The GrainInnovate Fund – a partnership between the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Artesian – highlight similar reasons for increasing their investment.
GRDC Managing Director Nigel Hart said connectivity remains a major issue in rural and regional Australia and investment in new technology and solutions, through companies like Zetifi, was critical for the grains industry.
“GRDC is committed to investments that support or improve connectivity, because we know that precision agriculture is an integral part of grain farming and growers are utilising technology every day to improve on-farm production – from record keeping, to making informed, data driven decisions on things like Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) positioning, input calculations and seed distribution,” he said.
“Increasing innovation depends on having a reliable connection on-farm so the work that companies such as Zetifi are doing is critical for the grains industry’s future.”
In the case of Jonathon Quigley from Cultiv8 Funds Management, who have also chosen to increase their investment in Zetifi, his confidence has been bolstered by his first-hand experience with their products.
“Dan participated in the SparkLabs Cultiv8 startup accelerator in 2019 and as a trial I had the very first ZetiRover installed in my ute. The device has allowed me to stay connected throughout my regional travels using it for video conferences, phone calls, emails, messages, and even delivering my primary work internet service during COVID lockdowns,” said Jonathon.
For startups seeking to achieve growth like Zetifi, Dan’s advice is simple.
“Startups should take every opportunity to learn that they can. The biggest cause of failure in startups comes down to building something that people don’t really need, once you figure out who your market is and what they need, the rest is just hard work and a bit of luck. Programs like the evokeAG. Startup Program are one of the best ways to get early feedback on your ideas and if you are targeting the agricultural sector, one of the best ways to start working out product/market fit.”
For more information about Zetifi, visit https://zetifi.com/
Visit evokeag.com/startups to find out more about the evokeAG. 2023 Startup Program. evokeAG. 2023 will take place in Adelaide, South Australia on 21-22 February 2023.
Tickets are available via evokeag.com, with discounted group, student and primary producer delegate passes also available. With the two previous evokeAG. events selling out, and international delegates jumping at the chance to return in 2023, we recommend getting in early to secure your tickets.