Sentera, the agricultural drone and data-analysis software company, said Wednesday that it raised $14 million in institutional funding, following $8.5 million raised in 2016, mostly from individual investors.
"We've built out our technology and the product, and the funding allows us to take it to the enterprise and commercial market at scale," CEO Eric Taipale said in a recent interview. "It's a huge distribution channel through our retail partners. We will accelerate the deployment of technology in the market."
Sentera, founded in 2014, works through a Minnesota contract-electronics manufacturer for its drone hardware. The company employs 36 people and expects to generate about $6 million in revenue this year, Taipale said.
Sentera has built partnerships with a network of hundreds of farm-equipment dealers, including John Deere dealers.
The Richfield-based company said it raised the most recent round of equity funding from a group of food, bioscience and agriculture investment firms, including New York-based Continental Grain Co., Chicago-based S2G Ventures and Washington, D.C.-based Middleland Capital.
"We believe Sentera has the best team and technology to provide real-time insights for large agriculture enterprises, growers and their advisers around nutrition, weeds, pest and disease," Chris Abbott, a member of Continental Grain's venture capital team, said in a phone interview. "The drone space is noisy. Sentera is a data and analytics company that leverages drones. Sentera collects data at the field's edge and provides real-time insights to enable growers and their advisers make better decisions throughout the growing season."
Sentera drones, equipped with sensors and artificial-intelligence software, survey crops — from soybeans to fruit and nuts — and produce reports that detail what water, fertilizer, weed control or other inputs are needed and where. The software essentially drives the tractor and irrigation systems.
Sentera information integrates directly with most integrated agricultural data management platforms, including John Deere Operations Center and Climate FieldView.
Sanjeev Krishnan, managing director at S2G Ventures, another investor, said in a statement: "Sentera's products have had very positive user feedback. The company can demonstrate that they improve customer profitability and that their technologies support new practices that drive greater efficiency while reducing environmental impact."
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144