• 7 December 2023
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Biome Makers: A Startup that Could Make or Break Our Future

Biome Makers: A Startup that Could Make or Break Our Future

Soil: The Forgotten Resource That Could Save or Destroy Usa man holding a soil in his hands

Imagine a world where the soil is dead. Where the land is barren, the crops are failing, and the farmers are struggling. Where the food is scarce, the water is polluted, and the climate is changing. Where the future is bleak and hope is fading. 

This is not dystopian fiction. This is a reality for many parts of the world today. 

According to the United Nations, one-third of the world’s land is degraded, affecting 3.2 billion people.

Soil degradation is one of the biggest threats to global food security, biodiversity, and human well-being, requiring innovative solutions that can address the root causes and consequences of soil degradation. 

But what if there was a way to revive the soil?

To restore its health and vitality, and to make it a source of life and abundance? To turn the tide of environmental degradation and create a more sustainable and resilient future?

This is the vision of Biome Makers, a startup that is revolutionizing soil health and sustainable agriculture.

By integrating soil microbiology into agricultural decision-making, Biome Makers is helping farmers optimize their practices, leading to healthier crops and a more sustainable environment. 

Hi, I’m Nabeel Shaikh, a seasoned chartered accountant, management consultant, and entrepreneur. Today, in this article, we will explore the story of Biome Makers, from its humble beginnings to its global impact. 

We will learn how two visionaries, Alberto Acedo and Adrián Ferrero, shared a dream of creating a greener world and how they turned it into a reality with their innovative technology, BeCrop®. 

We will also discover how Biome Makers is addressing the challenges and opportunities of the $22 billion AgTech industry and how it is inspiring a movement toward a more sustainable future.

The Idea: A Vision for Sustainable Agriculture

The idea of Biome Makers was born in the heart of Silicon Valley, where Alberto Acedo and Adrián Ferrero met as entrepreneurs. They both had a background in biotechnology and a passion for sustainability. 

They also had a common vision: to create a world where agriculture worked in harmony with nature, where the soil was not just dirt but a living, breathing ecosystem vital to our planet’s health.

They realized that the key to achieving this vision was to understand the complex microbial communities in the soil, which are responsible for many soil functions and plant interactions. 

They also realized that there was a gap in the market for a technology that could provide farmers with detailed and actionable information on their soil biology and how to improve it. 

They decided to fill this gap by developing a technology that could decode soil biology, providing farmers with data-driven insights to restore soil health and optimize crop performance. 

They named their technology BeCrop®, and their startup Biome Makers.

The Technology: BeCrop®

BeCrop® is a technology that combines DNA sequencing, machine learning, and cloud computing to analyze the soil microbiomes and provide farmers with a comprehensive report on their soil health and how to improve it. 

The process of using BeCrop® is simple and fast. Farmers only need to collect a soil sample and send it to Biome Makers’ laboratory.

The sample is processed and sequenced there, generating a huge amount of data on the soil microorganisms. This data is then analyzed by Biome Makers’ proprietary algorithms, which use artificial intelligence to identify the microbial species, their functions, and their interactions. 

The results are then uploaded to Biome Makers’ online platform, where farmers can access their personalized reports.

The report provides farmers with various indicators of soil health, such as pH, organic matter, nutrients, and microbial diversity. It also provides farmers with recommendations on how to improve their soil health, such as reducing fertilizer use, adding organic matter, and planting cover crops.

The report also allows farmers to compare their soil with other soils in their region and to monitor their soil health over time.

BeCrop® is a game-changer in the AgTech industry, providing farmers with a holistic and precise approach to soil health management. By using BeCrop®, farmers can reduce their environmental impact, increase their crop yields and quality, and save money and time.

happy farmer holding crate of vegetables

The Journey: From Dream to Reality 

The journey of Biome Makers from a dream to a reality was not easy. It required hard work, perseverance, and innovation. It also required overcoming various challenges, such as raising funds, building a team, developing a product, and reaching customers.

Fundraising 

One of the first challenges that Biome Makers faced was raising funds to start their venture. They participated in various competitions and programs, such as Imagine H2O, Illumina Accelerator, and THRIVE AgTech, where they won prizes and grants, and gained exposure and mentorship.

They also pitched their idea to various investors, who were initially skeptical about the potential and scalability of their technology. 

However, they managed to convince them with their vision, passion, and proof of concept and secured seed funding from various sources, such as Viking Global Investors, Seaya Ventures, and JME Ventures. 

Here are some of Biome Makers’ funding rounds:

Biome Makers, a soil testing startup based in the US, has raised $22.94 million over nine rounds. Their latest funding round was a $1.6 million grant in October 2022.
  • Series B: $15 million, led by Prosus Ventures
  • Series A: $4 million, led by Seaya Ventures and JME Ventures
  • Grant: $1.6 million for AI development to speed up global soil restoration

Biome Makers is using its funding to expand its technology, its team, and its market, and to achieve its vision of creating a more sustainable and resilient future for our planet.

Team Building

Another challenge that Biome Makers faced was to build a team that could execute their vision. They needed to recruit talented and diverse professionals, such as biologists, engineers, data scientists, and business developers, who shared their passion for sustainability and innovation. They also needed to create a culture that fostered collaboration, creativity, and learning. 

They achieved this by hiring people who had complementary skills and backgrounds and by providing them with opportunities to grow and contribute to the company’s mission. 

Product Development

A third challenge that Biome Makers faced was developing a product that could meet the needs and expectations of their customers. 

They needed to create a technology that was accurate, reliable, and user-friendly and that could provide value to farmers. 

They also needed to test and validate their technology in different contexts and scenarios and incorporate feedback and suggestions from their customers. 

They achieved this by following an agile and iterative process where they constantly improved and refined their technology and by collaborating with various partners and stakeholders, such as research institutions, agronomists, and farmers. 

Customer Reach 

A fourth challenge that Biome Makers faced was to reach and retain customers. They needed to market and sell their technology to farmers, who were often reluctant to adopt new technologies and practices. 

They also needed to educate and engage their customers and provide them with support and service. 

They achieved this by creating a strong brand and a compelling value proposition and by using various channels and strategies, such as online platforms, social media, events, and referrals. 

They also created a loyal and satisfied customer base by providing them with high-quality products and services and by creating a community of users who could share their experiences and learn from each other. 

The Impact: A Global Movement 

Today, Biome Makers is a global leader in soil health and sustainable agriculture, impacting over 1 million acres of land and supporting the socioeconomic conditions of over 14,000 farmers across more than 45 countries.

Their technology has proven to be effective and beneficial, reducing agrochemical fertilizer use by 20% and increasing carbon sequestration in agriculture by 15%. 

Their technology has also received various awards and recognitions, such as the World Agri-Tech Innovation Award, the AgFunder Innovation Award, and the Forbes 30 Under 30.

Biome Makers’ impact is not only measured by numbers but also by stories.

Stories of farmers who have improved their soil health and their crop performance; stories of researchers who have advanced their knowledge and their discoveries; stories of partners who have collaborated and innovated; stories of consumers who have enjoyed healthier and tastier food; and stories of communities that have benefited from a more sustainable and resilient environment.

Here is a summary of the case study shared by Biome:

The case study shows how Biome Makers BeCrop® technology was used to measure the sustainability of an almond farm in California using the BeCrop® Rate indicator.

BeCrop® Rate

The BeCrop® Rate is a score that reflects the soil’s biological potential and resilience, based on the soil microbiome analysis. The higher the score, the more sustainable the farm is. 

The case study compared two almond orchards with different management practices: one with conventional tillage and synthetic inputs, and one with no-till and organic inputs. 

Results

The results showed that the no-till and organic orchards had a higher BeCrop® Rate than the conventional orchards, indicating a higher level of soil health and sustainability. 

The no-till and organic orchard also had higher levels of beneficial microbes, such as nitrogen-fixing bacteria, phosphate-solubilizing bacteria, and mycorrhizal fungi, which can improve plant nutrition and growth. 

The case study demonstrates how BeCrop® technology can help farmers monitor and improve their soil health and sustainability by providing them with data-driven insights and recommendations.

By using BeCrop® technology, farmers can optimize their farming practices, reduce their environmental impact, and increase their crop yields and quality.”

Biome Makers’ impact is also not only limited to their technology but also to their vision. Biome Makers has inspired a movement toward a more sustainable future, where soil health is a priority and a source of value.

Biome Makers has shown that with the right tools and the right mindset, even the most daunting challenges can be overcome, and even the most ambitious dreams can be achieved. 

The Future: A Greener World 

Biome Makers’ journey is not over yet. Biome Makers has a vision for the future, where soil health is not only restored but also enhanced, where soil is not only a resource but also a solution, where soil is not only a foundation but also a catalyst. 

To achieve this vision, Biome Makers has a plan for the future, where they will continue to innovate and expand their technology, their products, and their services. Where they will continue to reach and empower more farmers, more regions, and more crops.

Where they will continue to collaborate and partner with more stakeholders, more sectors, and more disciplines. 

Biome Makers’ future is bright, and so is the future of our planet. By revolutionizing soil health and sustainable agriculture, Biome Makers is creating a greener and more resilient world, one handful of soil at a time.

In 2023, Biome Makers won the “AgTech Data Analytics Solution of the Year” award from AgTech Breakthrough.

Lessons from the Biome Makers’ Story:

Have a clear and compelling vision 

Have a clear and compelling vision that drives your innovation and passion. Biome Makers had a vision of creating a world where agriculture worked in harmony with nature and where soil health was a priority and a source of value.

This vision guided their decisions and actions and motivated them to overcome challenges and pursue opportunities. 

Use technology 

Use technology to solve real-world problems that matter. Biome Makers used technology to address one of the biggest threats to global food security, biodiversity, and human well-being: soil degradation.

They developed a technology that could decode soil biology and provide farmers with data-driven insights to restore soil health and optimize crop performance. Their technology was not only innovative but also impactful and beneficial. 

Build a team 

Build a team that shares your vision and complements your skills. Biome Makers built a team that was talented and diverse, with professionals from different backgrounds and disciplines, such as biologists, engineers, data scientists, and business developers.

They also created a culture that fostered collaboration, creativity, and learning. Their team was not only capable but also cohesive and supportive. 

Listen to your customers 

Listen to your customers and provide value to them. Biome Makers listened to their customers and understood their needs and expectations. They also provided value to them by offering high-quality products and services and by creating a community of users who could share their experiences and learn from each other. Their customers were not only satisfied but also loyal and engaged. 

Collaborate and partner with other stakeholders and sectors 

Biome Makers collaborated and partnered with various stakeholders and sectors, such as research institutions, agronomists, and farmers. They also participated in various competitions and programs, where they won prizes and grants and gained exposure and mentorship.

They also pitched their idea to various investors, who supported their growth and expansion. Their partners were not only helpful but also influential and strategic.

Biome Makers’ story is not just about a successful startup; it’s about a movement towards a sustainable future. It’s a narrative of two dreamers who sow the seeds for a greener, more resilient future, one handful of soil at a time.

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