When iGrow took the stage at Tech in Asia’s startup arena pitch battle in 2014, it easily won the jury’s vote.
The agriculture startup from Indonesia has been described as a “Farmville for real life.”
Its premise is really appealing and simple – you invest a small amount of money to have actual farmers plant crops for you. You can choose from things like peanuts, dates, and a variety of fruit.
As an investor, you’ll receive money after each harvest is sold. Crops have different growth cycles and expected return on investment (ROI). Some may take a few years before they yield anything at all.
One “unit” of avocado, for example, costs you approximately US$187. Unit sizes vary by crop but represent a patch of land with a certain yield estimate. With avocados, you’ll have to wait four or five years for the first harvest, but after that, you can expect a 15 percent ROI increase each year, says iGrow.
Its site has a nifty calculator to show you how much your plot of avocados will give you back if you stay in the contract until the end. For avocados, the contract’s life span is 15 years. In the final year, you get US$66. In total, you’ll have made an ROI of US$609 on your original investment of US$187.
According to the startup’s website, it has a total of 4,821 backers and works with 2,000 farmers on almost 1,200 hectares of land.
iGrow co-founder and CEO Andreas Senjaya adds that the startup has already allocated US$1.4 million for planting in the Buleleng, Blitar, Garut, Jonggol, and Banten regions.
Seed round from 500 Startups and East Ventures
Back at the 2014 pitch battle, Khailee Ng of 500 Startups was one of the jury members particularly in love with the idea. He kept in touch with the team, and iGrow was accepted into batch 16 of the Silicon Valley VC’s accelerator program.
Today, iGrow announced a round of seed investment from 500 Startups and East Ventures.
Though it didn’t mention the amount invested, the startup said it wants to use the money to expand overseas by the end of the year, specifically to Turkey, where it wants to get into olive farming, and possibly Japan.
The startup also sees a huge growth opportunity at home. “Currently we are farming in more than 1,000 hectares underutilized land. There is still 16 million hectares of underutilized land in Indonesia,” said Jim Oklahoma, co-founder and head of business development.
Jim and Andreas co-founded the startup together with Muhaimin Iqbal. Muhaimin’s the one who brings in most agricultural expertise and connections in the Islamic financing world. He studied agricultural engineering at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture and runs GeraiDinar, an online resource on the gold-based Islamic currency dinar. He has also published several books on Islamic financing and insurance. – Rappler.com
This article was first published on Tech in Asia.
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