Q&A with Kevin Spry, A Different Kind of “Seed” Investor

I’m writing about agricultural technology for Venture Capital Journal and interviewed Kevin Spry, the founder of crop imaging company GeoG2 Solutions. A few key points are excerpted below. If you or one of your portfolio companies is involved in Ag-Bio or Ag-IT, let me know: alex.haislip@thomsonreuters.com

Alex: Agriculture isn’t something many venture firms look at, but you’ve managed to raise $750,000 from the Halo Fund. What was that like?

Kevin: During the dotcom and even today, there’s this perception among investors that “we’re going to be able to put $50,000 into this, somebody will write a program and it will be Facebook.” When you look at a business that actually has assets, it looks unique. We built a camera system, we have some intellectual property in processing and we have a big-ass airplane. A lot of these investors have been involved in airplanes, using them, but don’t understand that they take a lot of money. I might have been better off telling them that I was going to buy a boat and go fishing.

Alex: What kind of value can farmers get from the images you take?

Kevin: Growers are making a tremendous amount of decisions in a short period of time and need information. It’s one more piece of information in the puzzle. It can tell everything from how well your plants grow, or if you have “skips” where the equipment doesn’t put seeds down in the field. Linear problems are usually irrigation or application. The more random things may be soil, disease or other things. When you look at the economics of it, every 24 plants is a box of lettuce. If I miss 50 feet of land, I’ve just lost two boxes of lettuce. That is pretty much all in understanding the imagery once you start to collect it.

Alex: What hurdles do tech companies have to jump to sell onto farms?

Kevin: Growers don’t want to learn a solution. They want to apply a solution. If you can’t make it seamless and transparent for them, it’s going to be very difficult for them to accept it.