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Ag-tech startup TerraClear raises $15M to grow its end-to-end solution for ridding fields of rocks – GeekWire

Ag-tech startup TerraClear raises M to grow its end-to-end solution for ridding fields of rocks – GeekWire
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TerraClear’s TC80 Rock Picker working a field. (TerraClear Photo)

TerraClear raised $15 million in new funding for its rock-mapping and picking technology solutions for farmers.

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The startup, based in Issaquah, Wash., and Grangeville, Idaho, will use the cash to focus on growth in its sales organization and in partnerships it’s establishing with original equipment manufacturers. Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group, TerraClear CEO Brent Frei and a number of angel investors contributed to the round, which added to a $25 million Series A from May 2021.

Frei, the former CEO of Onyx Software and co-founder of Smartsheet, started Terra Clear in 2017 with the goal of simplifying the backbreaking task of removing large rocks from farmers’ fields.

Seven years later, Frei is very satisfied with the design of his Rock Picker hardware — which can mount to a variety of machines and pick hundreds of rocks per hour. And TerraClear’s software and AI continues to improve and better understand a ton of collected data, driving efficiency in rock mapping and route planning, on through to picking.

“There’s so many ag companies right now, both on the tech side and on the hardware side, trying to improve their automation,” Frei said. “They’re trying to improve the utility of their tools across multiple things. This is unique. There’s nobody else that has a rock picking solution. There’s very few companies that have anything end to end.”

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A visualization of a farmer looking over a TerraClear Rock Map. (TerraClear Photo)

TerraClear’s mission isn’t to just build Rock Pickers and make money selling them to farmers. The startup is more interested in providing a suite of services to solve the rock problem. TerraClear will map a field with a drone and create a Rock Map for $4 per acre. The startup will then partner with a service provider to come rock pick that field for between $2 and $9 per acre.

“With the combination of our map, which we make some money on, and their services, which we’ll take a little slice of, it’s an exceptional opportunity for a lot of local folks to add to their current business, and we don’t have to build a service channel,” Frei said.

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Frei is excited about the space and the opportunity for growth, equating the potential to what a certain tech giant faced at its outset.

“Rocks for us is like books were for Amazon,” he said. “It was a giant, hungry market, and [Amazon] created an efficiency and it was great. But underneath it all was a platform to go and automate all kinds of e-commerce. I think that what we’re having to do end to end with all the AI and all the automation and all the robotic systems and information processing — it is our platform.”

TerraClear, which is mainly working in Minnesota and Iowa right now, has about 100 farming customers paying for its solutions. Modern marketing is also playing a part. A popular ag influencer named Millennial Farmer got a taste of the equipment and his video performed so well other farmers started reaching out to TerraClear.

TerraClear has also been intent on proving that the job can be done with an autonomous machine and they’re getting closer. A Bobcat running control software built by TerraClear has a Rock Picker mounted on the front of it.

“We have a machine running itself and picking right now,” Frei said. “It’s in our test fields. And we intend to deploy it this summer in production.”

TerraClear has raised $53 million to date and employs about 40 people. Frei calls running the startup the most fun he’s ever had.

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“It is the coolest tech and it is the coolest customer base ever,” he said. “It’s just so fun and our team — not to offend anyone from the past — is as good a team as I’ve ever started with.”



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