With a new chief technology officer on board and revenues expected to hit $1 million this year, Bedford-based VineView is on the hunt for capital — hoping to close a $10 million funding round near the end of the year.
VineView uses aerial images to assess the health and output of vineyards, and has become the market leader in France. The company in its current form was created in early 2018 when Halifax-based SkySquirrel merged with its Napa Valley, California-based partner VineView, creating an enlarged company based in the Halifax area.
“Last year, we focused on merging the businesses and building up our operational capacity,” said CEO Richard van der Put in an interview Thursday. “We now have six full-time salespeople on our sales team, and we’ve started this year to operate at a larger scale in France. That’s where we’ve seen a lot of things happening. We’ve been working with a distribution partner, and that gives us access to 650,000 acres of vineyards [in France alone].”
When van der Put announced the merger in January 2018, the company had just raised $3 million, $1 million of which came from Innovacorp. The CEO said the company is now working on a Series A funding round with a target of $10 million, which he hopes to close late this year or early in 2020. Some funds have already been committed and he is now meeting with other investors, finding the greatest engagement with funders based in Canada.
VineView’s funding campaign is being driven by a strong growth story. The company is now on track to double its revenues in 2019 to about $1 million and its headcount has risen to 31 people.
While most companies gathering and analyzing data for agricultural clients use drones to scan fields, VineView uses aircraft. It even has its own fleet of three planes. Van der Put said it’s a surprisingly cost-effective way to gather data, and a single aircraft can scan all of Napa Valley in a single afternoon. The company uses its own technology called PureVine, developed by its own team, which is so precise it can give vineyard owners data on individual vines in their fields.
Van der Put said PureView can, for example, help vineyard owners determine how many of their vines are dead or missing – something they now have to do by walking their fields and counting them. The precision of the solution has helped with sales, especially in France, where VineView is a market leader.
The company is selling well in the smaller California market as well, but van der Put said there are more competitors in the U.S.
To continue to develop its technology, VineView recently hired Shaun Johansen as chief technology officer and head of its five-member development team. Most recently involved in now-defunct startup Velo Industries, Johansen has been a co-founder of several startups, including two that were acquired by BlackBerry Inc. (formerly Research in Motion).
“Shaun brings vibrant energy and fresh ideas to the team,” said van der Put. “We are excited about the growth and progress we will be able to make together.”
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Peter Moreira is a principal of www.Entrevestor.com, a news and data site for Atlantic Canadian startups.