GroGuru: Enabling Strategic Water Management through Advanced Technology
The Executive Headlines
As we move further into a technologically advanced and industrialized world, the natural resources like water, minerals, coal, etc. are depleting constantly. Water management, in particular, has become a major issue of concern—due to climate change, draining underground water levels, uncertain rainfalls, etc. Several companies are coming up with new techniques and innovations to cope with this issue.
Established in 2014, GroGuru is one such company that is implementing strategic water management through advanced technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning). The company is on a mission to help farmers save water, grow more crops in a cost-effective way, and sequester more carbon in the soil. GroGuru is committed to preserving the precious resources of the planet in a more sustainable way.
The Initial Journey
GroGuru was established in 2014 by Farooq Anjum, Ph.D. with a focus on residential gardening. In late 2015, Farooq collaborated with Jeff Campbell Ph.D. and pivoted into commercial agriculture with a focus on developing a soil sensor that could be permanently installed in annual field crops like corn and soybeans.
These crops represent 85% of the irrigated acreage in the U.S. and a vast majority of farmland across the world. Since 2019, GroGuru has been in commercial deployment of its patented GroGuru WUGS (Wireless Underground System)—which enables the permanent installation of sensors to strategically manage water.
Bouquet of Services and Solutions
GroGuru provides hardware-enabled software as a service (SaaS), where it collects data at the root zone of the crop and passes that up to the cloud. It applies machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other information from its partners like weather forecasts, crop models, how much irrigation is provided, etc.
Afterward, the company provides insights to farmers about when and how much to optimally irrigate their crops. In the last 18 months, GroGuru has launched a stand-alone SaaS product, GroGuru InSites, which works on third-party sensors. This has significantly expanded the near-term market opportunity and fueled revenue and design-win growth.
GroGuru helps farmers make more money by increasing crop yield and more efficiently, using water and other scarce resources, in a more sustainable way. “GroGuru’s solution is far more scalable than competitive alternatives and provides better insights via AI for water management,” says Patrick Henry (CEO of GroGuru).
A Diverse Team of Experts
Being at the helm of GroGuru, Patrick has been immensely contributing to the company’s success. He is a serial entrepreneur with multiple exits including an IPO that led to a $1 billion valuation on NASDAQ. He is an angel investor and one of the major investors in GroGuru. At GroGuru, Patrick spearheads a diverse team of experts in their respective fields. He mentions that teamwork has been critical to the company’s success to date.
GroGuru’s team is passionate about food security, water conservation, and sustainability. It cares about farmers as well as the planet. The team has the right business, technical, and market domain expertise to excel in the market competition. The company has Ph.D.’s and experts in crop science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, soil sensors, and wireless technology that is unprecedented in the industry. It has the right contacts with farmers, strategic partners, and ecosystem partners in the agri-business market.
Coping with the Challenges
Successful businesses are often accompanied by a myriad of different challenges. In the past couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as one such challenge that disrupted businesses across the globe. The lockdown impositions resulted in many businesses choosing to operate virtually. While this shift to virtual operations benefitted some companies, some companies were severely affected due to this. As far as GroGuru was concerned, navigating the COVID storm, managing cash, maintaining sales momentum, and raising capital in an exceedingly difficult market environment were the primary challenges during the pandemic.
In 2020, GroGuru’s revenues were also relatively flat. However, as the market was down by 25 to 30 percent, the company did gain market share in a down market. Several of its competitors, on the other hand, sold or went out of business. In 2021 GroGuru resumed its revenue growth. It doubled its software as a service (SaaS) subscribers in 2021, added some significant strategic partnerships, and increased its coverage area to 100,000 acres under management.
At the end of 2021, GroGuru’s existing customers represented 1M deployable acres and its dealer footprint has grown to over 5M acres. “We expect to more than double subscribers again in 2022, and the value of our solution continues to increase with the cost of fertilizer and the continued scarcity of water,” adds Patrick.
Establishing a Product-market Fit
Patrick mentions that GroGuru is very fortunate to have established a product-market fit for its solutions. This is validated by its customer testimonials and case studies. According to Patrick, raising the capital to keep ‘gas in the tank’ will be key to fueling accelerated growth. adds Patrick. “We also need to continue to gain market and customer awareness and build-out our sales channels,” he adds. In the product development pipeline, GroGuru has some exciting products that have the potential to accelerate revenue and subscriber growth even more.
Talking about GroGuru’s services, Harold Grall (President of the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, Texas, says, “To achieve maximum profit on every inch of water pumped, we need the ability to accurately measure soil moisture the entire year not just the growing season. A permanent probe, like GroGuru, is the only solution; it allows us a way of monitoring winter moisture and keep from pumping water too early.”
A Bright Future
Patrick reckons that GroGuru has a bright future ahead. The company believes it can change the world in a significant and positive way. Presently, 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is used for agriculture irrigation, and to cater to the increasing population growth, the amount of food is needed to be increased 70 percent by the year 2050. GroGuru is focused on being a significant solution to this problem, while allowing farmers to be even better stewards of their land and providing more sustainable answers to difficult problems.
“At GroGuru, we are focused on making the world a better place by allowing farmers to save water, grow more crops in a cost-effective way, and sequester more carbon in the soil.”