Press release: Monsanto’s Venture Capital Arm Makes First Direct Investment in Brazil
Friday, May 25, 2018
Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), together with Canary and the creators of OpenVC fund, will invest R$ 2.3 million in the development and growth of Grão Direto, a startup located in Uberaba (MG), in Brazil, and conceiver of a platform that digitizes the grain origination process. This is the first time a Brazilian startup is receiving a direct investment from MGV, which has been investing in startup companies since 2011.
Grão Direto offers a web platform for computers and smartphone applications, which helps farmers and buyers find the best deals with much more efficiency and security. “Farmers, already so used to technology in their daily routine on the farm, can now also take advantage of the benefits of technology for their sales. We have made negotiation process easier between farmers and the buyers, bringing much more information and integration to support both sides,” explains Alexandre Borges, CEO of Grão Direto.
Borges says that Grão Direto’s advantage is creating a more agile, practical and secure process for grain sales, currently done over the phone. “Buyers currently contact farmers by telephone to trade grain. This process takes a lot of time and money. At Grão Direto, buyers and sellers with greater potential to do business are connected through the system and can directly negotiate their prices, delivery conditions, deadlines and any other important aspects for closing. The negotiation can be securely done through the system,” Borges explains.
The application has existed for just over a year and a half and has more than 1,300 grain producers registered. These producers are spread across more than 250 municipalities in the Triângulo Mineiro (Western region of Minas Gerais), Northwest of Minas Gerais and Southern of Goiás. On the buyer side, more than 70 companies have used the platform for their negotiations, including cooperatives, trading companies, feed factories and brokers.
Grão Direto intends to use the investment to accelerate the development of its products and services even further, and to establish partnerships with other technology companies and financial institutions to make the grain chain more digital. The resources will also be used to expand the area of operation into the main grain producing and purchasing regions of the country, which will require more manpower. “Over the coming months, our intention is to greatly increase the team by hiring new people for all areas of the company,” says Borges.
Accelerating Innovative Solutions
For Monsanto Growth Ventures Lead in Brazil, Bernardo Nogueira, Monsanto’s venture capital investment in startups like Grão Direto, complements Monsanto’s business and provides producers with better tools and technologies for their field activities. “The benefit of investing in startups is keeping us close to these entrepreneurs, to quickly identify emerging and promising ideas,” says Nogueira. “We believe that, as Grão Direto grows and evolves as a company, it will enhance the ever-changing digital landscape of modern agriculture.”
In addition to Monsanto Growth Ventures, Grão Direto is also receiving investments from the creators of the OpenVC fund and of Canary, which concentrates its investments in startups that are in the phase between seed investment and the first Series A round.
“The agrotech market has been growing a lot in Brazil and we are closely watching startups and entrepreneurs with the potential to take off in this segment,” said Marcos Toledo, co-founder of Canary.
For OpenVC, the focus is to innovate when buying and selling grain. “We are quite confident in Grão Direto team’s capacity to transform the grain marketing chain in Brazil,” says OpenVC co-founder, Mauro Muratório Not.