Aerobotics 🇿🇦

A smart pest management platform using satellite, drone, and in-field scouting.

Aerobotics

Round Size
$2.0 million
Round Name
Series A

Investors

AgFunder, 4Di Capital, AngelList, Lee Edwards, Nedbank VC, Savannah Fund.

Summary

Aerobotics is a South African agtech company with a smart scouting platform to identify pests and diseases in tree crops. In the last 24 months, Aerobotics captured ~20% of South Africa's citrus market and in the last six months, ~40% of its macadamia market.

The company was founded by James Paterson (CEO) and Benji Meltzer (CTO) who first met while studying robotics in undergrad. James, a 10th generation farmer, went on to MIT for a Master in Aeronautics and Astronautics, while Benji did a Masters in Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London before joining Uber as a data scientist. In early 2014, James and Benji teamed back up when they realized the abundance of data that could be captured through satellite and drone imagery and then analyzed at scale through machine learning. Since then they've been joined by Andrew Burdock (COO), who headed Tyco ADT’s coastal branches in South Africa leading a sales and support team of over 400 people; and Timothy Willis (CFO) who previously led Strategy & Analytics for Uber’s Europe, Middle East and Africa Central Operations Team.

Why We Invested

  • Technically and commercially balanced (MIT, Uber, ADT, selected for Google Launchpad)
  • Product-driven by two very strong founders with deep technical backgrounds
  • CEO comes from a 10th generation farming family
  • Focused high-value crops where growers have more margin for technology
  • Tremendous traction in their local market (20% of S.A. citrus, 40% of S.A. macadamia)
  • Disease monitoring gives Aerobotics strong network effects and encourages word-of-mouth sales
  • Showing evidence they're closing in on product market fit
  • Team has demonstrated they can do a lot with very little

 

Pest & Disease Detection Platform

 

Thrips detection on citrus

Thrips detection on citrus

 

3d reconstruction from 2d imagery

Company Presentation


Team

Andrew Burdock
COO

Andrew is the COO of Aerobotics. Prior to joining Aerobotics, Andrew was the District Manager for Tyco responsible sales and technical targets. Andrew has a MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business and holds the CIMA designation.

Timothy Willis
CFO, Head of Growth

Tim is the CFO and Head of Growth at Aerobotics. Before joining Aerobotics, Tim led the Strategy and Analytics Team for Uber Europe, Middle East & Africa's Central Operations Team based out of Amsterdam. Prior to that he was Uber's Head of Central Operations for Sub-Saharan Africa. Tim has a finance degree from University of Witwatersrand, is a qualified Chartered Accountant in South Africa and has passed all three CFA exam levels.

Benji Meltzer
Cofounder/CTO

Benji is the cofounder and CTO of Aerobotics. Benji was an Operations and Logistics Manager at Uber in Sub-Saharan Africa specialising in running Driver Analytics. Benji also studied mechatronics at the University of Cape Town. He went on to study his Masters in Neurotechnology at Imperial College London.

James Paterson
Founder/CEO

James is the cofounder and CEO of Aerobotics. James studied mechatronics at the University of Cape Town and has a Masters in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering from MIT. James grew up on the family farm where his family are 10 generation citrus farmers.


Press

CNN