Crop Enhancement Secures $8.5M in Capital
Agrochemical formulations based on environmentally friendly chemistry and technology’s role in a sustainable food supply chain
As new ag technologies, such as Crop Enhancement’s CropCoat, achieve meaningful improvements on the ground, both commodity and specialty producers have an opportunity to define sustainability in more concrete terms—and to invite the consumer to take more interest in the journey [of their food from the farm to their table]. CEO Kevin Chen has been positioning his early stage company Crop Enhancement, presenters at the 2016 Ag Innovation Showcase, to play a leadership role in building sustainable food supply chains. Since showcase, Crop Enhancement has expanded in May 2018 by appointing two new experienced ag business development executives, including Rodrigo Bermudez as Vice President of global business development, and Nandang Holil as the Indonesian country director.
Crop Enhancement aims to increase yields and reduce input costs by developing non-toxic, environmentally sustainable, and economically viable protective plant coatings. Early trials of CropCoat™ on tropical crops like coffee and cacao have been promising.
At the 2016 Showcase, Kevin announced that Crop Enhancement had secured $8.5M in third-party investment capital. Since then, Kevin and his team have achieved four critical milestones:
- Improving their product formulation
- Expanding the number of field trials to new crops
- Hiring additional talent including VP of R&D Damian A. Hajduk and agriculture market development specialist Mark Russell, and building an advisory board consisting of industry veterans Marcus Meadows-Smith, Mark Phillipson, and Mary Shelman
- Building awareness of Crop Enhancement through targeted media initiatives
The company is collaborating with leaders in biologicals and other novel crop protection technologies and in discussions with several key channel partners.
Impact of Ag Innovation Showcase
Kevin says: “The Ag Innovation Showcase is a ‘must attend’ event. Startups should take full advantage of the opportunity to present and use the Larta Link meeting scheduling tool to maximize their connection with key stakeholders.”
At the 2016 Ag Innovation Showcase, the Crop Enhancement team worked with an assigned mentor to refine their pitch and hone their company story, which helped them win the "People's Choice" award. According to Kevin, the Showcase raised his company’s visibility and has made it easier to attract interest from growers, ag innovators, customers, and prospective employees.
Building awareness for Crop Enhancement and CropCoat
Like other agtech startups running field trials, Crop Enhancement’s marketing budget is constrained. To maximize the return on its marketing spend, Crop Enhancement has avoided advertising and instead focused on building awareness through earned media and appearances at industry events. The team first identified the “influence chain” of media outlets read by the growers and partners they wished to target, and developed an editorial strategy optimized for maximum effect. To date, these efforts have yielded interviews and articles in publications including Food Processing and Fresh Cup. Kevin has also been invited to speak at other industry conferences such as Silicon Valley AgTech Conference. Crop Enhancement’s blog has become the hub for all brand content such as Q&A articles with new team members and company news.