13 Sep, 2023

StrongBó Agritech: Pioneering Innovation in the Beef Industry and Fundraising Success

StrongBó Agritech, founded in 2019 by Micheál McInerney and Ivan Wahlrab, emerged as a response to the pressing need for innovation in the beef industry. In 2023, the team marked a significant milestone by closing their seed round of funding, securing €750,000. Ivan recently sat down with the ifac Food and Agribusiness team to shed light on their remarkable journey.

1. Tell us about your journey so far?

From the outset, we collaborated closely with the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and forward-thinking farmers in Ireland. Together, we developed a fully autonomous animal weighing device, aimed at empowering beef farmers with data-driven insights to optimize their farming practices.

Recognising the potential of our technology beyond the Irish market, and having conducted significant market research, we fine-tuned our device for North America, forging partnerships with key customers in the region. By late 2020, our devices were deployed in North American feedlots.

In 2021, we strategically partnered with Dr. Marty Metzger in Ontario, Canada, whose expertise aligned perfectly with our mission. Marty had been developing similar technologies for the Ontario Beef Industry so our decision to bring him into the management of team at StrongBó brought significant synergies.This partnership not only provided valuable market knowledge but also granted us access to core clients, enabling us to reduce farming costs while prioritising animal welfare.

2. Navigating the Funding Landscape

StrongBó Agritech's funding journey commenced within the New Frontiers program at The Rubicon Centre in MTU, Cork. Progressing through phases 1 to 3 provided us with a robust foundation. We then collaborated with the Local Enterprise Office, securing the Priming Grant and Innovation vouchers, which eventually led us to Enterprise Ireland and their Competitive Start Fund, now known as the Pre-Seed Start Fund. Post this initial funding, we embarked on our Seed Round fundraising journey.

The investment was spearheaded by Gallagher, a global leader in animal management solutions headquartered in New Zealand. It also saw investments from Enterprise Ireland through the High Potential Start-up program (HPSU) and three other Canadian-based parties, including the 519 Growth Fund and the Grand River Agricultural Society (GRAS). Throughout this process, the ifac Food and Agribusiness advisory team played a pivotal role. We proudly announced our successful Seed Round investment, amassing just over €750,000 earlier this year.

3. Challenges in Agtech Fundraising

When it comes to fundraising for agtech businesses, identifying the right investment partners stands out as a significant challenge. Fundraising is an arduous endeavor, and aligning your goals and values with those of potential partners can streamline the process. We consider ourselves fortunate to have found partners who share our vision, but it's worth noting that, as J.R.R. Tolkien puts it, "There is nothing like looking if you want to find something."

4. Advice for Aspiring Fundraisers

Drawing from our experiences, our advice to fellow entrepreneurs seeking to raise funds is simple: start early. Commence your fundraising efforts from day one. Everyone underscores the fact that fundraising takes longer than expected, and we thought we understood that well. Actively pitch your ideas, cultivate relationships with potential partners, and don't be disheartened by a "No thank you." In fact, it was after one such rejection that we were introduced to Gallagher as a potential partner. To borrow from Tolkien once more, "You certainly usually find something if you look, but it's not always quite the something you were after." In conclusion, our counsel to our younger selves would be to network tirelessly, build relationships, and never shy away from feedback.

If you're in the process of raising funds for your agtech business, reach out to the ifac Food and Agribusiness team today to explore how we can assist you on your journey.

This interview was conducted as part of our 2023 Food & Agribusiness Report.