Monitoring bees and their hives can be extremely exhausting for beekeepers, who must manually go from hive to hive to understand their condition and what’s going on with the bees. An Israeli startup wanted to mitigate this by creating smart hives, which essentially this tedious work for them, all the while providing them with additional insights to deal with real-time problems quickly. It is now also raising money from the company behind some of the world's most recognized food brands.
The largest pollen company in the world
BeeHero has developed a platform that combines algorithms, Big Data, and a simple and cheap communication based IoT component that enables the collection of hive data and environmental information. The data that flows from the hives is stored in the cloud and analyzed using machine learning algorithms, and the information is transmitted to the beekeepers in real-time, allowing them to identify and treat problems quickly and efficiently. Early identification, treatment, and response in beehives help prevent damage while improving the conditions of the hive.
Beekeepers who don't use BeeHero’s product yet want to check the condition of their hives and bees, must do so manually, which means they have to go through many hives, one by one. This means that unfortunately, some hives will fall between the cracks and collapse in the process.
In a conversation with Geektime, Omer Davidi, CEO and co-founder of BeeHero, said that last year (since the previous funding round), the company has become the largest pollination company in the world. This, of course, is thanks to the huge amounts of data that it has collected in the field through its smart beehives; now the company can provide insights to improve the pollination process, which is also a critical process in growing crops. "This past year was very significant for us. We tripled our revenue, developed a mobile app for the beekeeper teams to work more efficiently, and also optimized our sensor production system."
Today (Thursday) the company reported raising $42 million in a series B round. The round was led by Convent Capital with participation from General Mills, ADM, Rabobank, MS&AD, Firstime, Direct Round, J-Ventures, Plug&Play, iAngels, Gaingels, UpWest, and other investors.
How did you get connected with food giant General Mills?
Davidi: "ADM Capital, who led the company's previous recruitment round, introduced us to General Mills. Our partnership is a strategic one. We are already working with some of General Mills' most senior employees to integrate BeeHero’s solution with various departments of the company. "Cheerios and Nature Valley are two brands that are very familiar with the honey/beehive issue, and we are in close contact with the brand managers. We are also collaborating on research as part of the group's Force For Good initiative. We are very proud and happy about our relationship and collaboration with General Mills."
"Those who can, should wait"
Davidi said that they started raising funds in April, and they definitely noticed a change from their last experience: "At the beginning, the investors we spoke with were very enthusiastic and the process was moving fairly quickly. But then, around June time, there was a clear change since the global market crisis started to unfold. It was clear to us that investors were tightening their belts. We felt this quite strongly and it was difficult and concerning, but what worked in our favour was the strategic investors, who understand that the global food production process is necessary – even when the markets are declining. In the end, we raised $10 million more than we originally planned because of this necessity and high demand."
When looking at the current market situation, Davidi reflected on the difficulties entrepreneurs are facing now: "The market situation is not easy; I am in contact with many entrepreneurs and founders and hear about withdrawn term sheets, last-minute changes to conditions, draconian demands from investors that may harm the company's employees in the future. So, I would say, those who can, should wait.”