Temple Bright advises Wefarm on $5m VC deal

Tech City law firm Temple Bright has advised AgTech startup Wefarm on a $5 million financing round. The investment was led by Silicon Valley based venture capital firm True Ventures and also included LocalGlobe, Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV) and the Norrsken Foundation alongside several high profile individuals: Skype and Atomico Founder Niklas Zennström (angel investing in a personal capacity), WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg and Blue Bottle Coffee CEO Bryan Meehan.

Wefarm, a London-based social enterprise, is the world’s first crowdsourced peer-to-peer network for offline communities. It has developed a digital network connecting small-scale farmers with agricultural information via text messages. The service is used widely by farmers in Kenya and Uganda, who can ask a question in their own language about anything agriculture-related – enabling the company to deploy machine learning to distil the most helpful answers from network users.

Wefarm plans to expand into other areas of Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa. It has a user retention rate of 90 percent and more than 30 percent of farmers actively contribute their knowledge every month.

Wefarm plans to use this round of funding to develop new features such as Project Farmlog – an interactive “smart farming assistant” that will use machine learning to support farmers both throughout the growing season and also with their livestock, based on the questions they have asked.

Wefarm Founder and CEO Kenny Ewan said: “We believe farmers are often the best and most relevant source of information and experience for other farmers. We’re proud to have created a network that empowers the close to one million farmers who use our service, and we’re excited to expand our reach and product capabilities this year.”

Jon Callaghan, cofounder of True Ventures, said: “Wefarm’s mission is incredible, and we’re ecstatic to support Kenny and his team. The company democratises technology, promotes the fluidity of information across an entire segment of the food supply and helps farmers become more productive. Wefarm is the kind of movement True was designed for, and we are excited to empower this business and mission for the world.”

Temple Bright advised Wefarm on its original seed funding round late in 2016 and has continued to support the business as it has grown.

Corporate partner Ben Gisbey said: “It has been exciting to see Wefarm increase its traction over the past year and now to secure additional finance to continue with its ambitious plans. The support of these substantial investors, both existing and new, is a real endorsement of all that Kenny and his team have achieved. It was a pleasure advising on the deal and we will be watching with anticipation as this innovative business continues to grow.”

The Temple Bright team comprised partners Ben Gisbey (Corporate), Dan Pearce (Intellectual Property), Nina Peregrine-Jones (Data Protection) and Carol Tricks (Tax). True Ventures were advised by US law firm, Gunderson Dettmer.

Temple Bright was established in 2010 using a tech-enabled, streamlined business model and now has 56 partners with offices in London and Bristol. The firm has a focus on corporate finance work across a range of sectors, with a particular emphasis on technology.

This article appeared on the Bdaily website on 4 April 2018.