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This Brisbane entrepreneur left banking to build a disruptive agtech startup, now looks to raise $1.25 million equity crowdfunding


Former Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros banker David Davies, founder of impact startup and agtech business AgUnity, recently announced the launch of its equity crowdfunding campaign with Equitise to raise $1.25 million.

The disruptive agtech is an innovative technology platform and app that connects organisations and service providers with the “last-mile”, defined by the business as the 2 billion smallholder farmers, fisherfolk and their communities in developing countries regions.

The AgUnity business provides poverty stricken communities with an affordable smartphone and access to its super app, introducing farmers to services such as a digital identity, business insurance, a bank account and a trusted space to transact.

The AgUnity app was first designed as a solution to overcome a lack of trust by enabling secure, immutable peer-to-peer transactions recorded on the blockchain. Farmers can sell and distribute their products through the online ledger that revolutionises the way they trade and communicate, bringing billions of non-digital transactions online, in a simple, transparent way.

The AgUnity super app also helps farmers to plan for crop spoilage and overcome corruption, unreliable record keeping and restricted market access. The startup has evolved beyond recording farm and industry transactions through the deployment of hundreds of applet within its “Super App” ecosystem. This means the technology solves additional issues the western world takes for granted, such as access to a bank account.

What is AgUnity’s business model?

AgUnity has a unique value proposition and in three years, the impact company founded in Brisbane has grown from a startup to a business with a market capitalisation of $11 million. The business has a multi-stream revenue model and operates a multi-faceted business model.

Revenue streams include subscriptions fees charged to service providers for each user, transaction fees and technology development and licencing fees. The businesses’ larger development contract fees come from corporations and organisations working with those in need of AgUnity’s technology ecosystem.

Future revenue opportunities for AgUnity exist in the white-labelling of the product plus data insights. With this multi-stream revenue model and massive target market on both the supply side (organisations) and demand side (farmers), there is a major growth opportunity for Agunity.

AgUnity plans to become the first ag-tech super app to reach and meet the needs of millions of farmers globally. A super app is an emerging category of mobile application designed around a secured and safe ecosystem of many complementary applications and is created as a multitask tool intended for everyday use.

AgUnity plans to follow in the footsteps of other dominant super apps such as WeChat and Go-Jek, tailored to the needs of the developing agricultural world that has traditionally been left behind by technological innovations.

What is the story behind AgUnity?

Brisbane-based founder David Davies has an extensive history working in technology for global investment banks and firms. He created AgUnity as a solution for the farmers in developing countries who don’t have access to simple services such as a digital identity, bank account and secure, online records of transactions.

“Three and a bit years ago we stumbled across an idea that had the potential to change the lives of the 2 billion lowest-income people on the planet. We believe that AgUnity will be the missing piece of the puzzle that connects thousands of organisations to billions of smallholder farmers, fisherfolk and their communities,” says Davies.

“We’ve rolled up our sleeves, travelled to and lived in remote and rural communities, conducted pilot projects, built up a highly talented team and continued our technology development and R&D. We’ve won global competitions, been published by the world’s largest financial and agricultural bodies, and secured contracts with multi-billion-dollar Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Now it’s time to share the opportunity to own equity in our business with like-minded, everyday Aussies,” he says.

“With AgUnity, I see an opportunity to bring more than 2 billion people into the digital and financial economy. This isn’t a ‘could happen’ scenario – it will happen – it’s simply a matter of time. Just like Apple changed the world for the top billion with the iPhone, my belief is AgUnity has the same potential to transform the lives of the 2 billion,” he said.

AgUnity is a digital solution that deals with the immediate challenges including corruption, unreliable record keeping, restricted or no access to markets, bank accounts and financing in third world countries.

As a philanthropic business venture, AgUnity works with service providers such as banks, insurance companies, commodity buyers, traders and NGOs to provide farmers with smartphone technology. AgUnity harnesses the latest technological innovations, such as distributed ledger technology, to provide the benefits of digitisation to those in need.

AgUnity’s solution prioritises user experience, having been developed alongside key agricultural communities. It enables offline capability in core platform transaction functions (such as “Give Harvest” or “Receive Cash”).

These peer-to-peer transactions can be completed without signal and later reconciled when signal connectivity resumes. Access to bank accounts then allows for the farmer to start saving and access insurance that might limit the devastation crop damage can cause. These examples and more all help to break the cycle of poverty.

Why Equitise believes in AgUnity

Co-founder of Equitise, Jonny Wilkinson, welcomes a business creating such a positive impact around the world onto the Equitise platform.

“AgUnity is creating solutions to improve the lives of small farmers globally in developing countries. It’s not only going to potentially help millions, but it also has a strong revenue model, earning fees from both the supply side (service providers) and demand side (farmers). We therefore think it’s a great opportunity for like-minded investors to get behind such a great Australian Ag-tech,” he said.

“Over 2 billion smallholder farmers, fisherfolk, and their communities are the most financially and technologically excluded people on the planet. They suffer on a daily basis due to trust issues that people in developed nations solved a century ago and nowadays take for granted. This is something AgUnity is working to solve and will be closer to achieving by raising capital with Equitise,” said Wilkinson.

In 2018, AgUnity were selected as the exclusive technology provider for the world’s largest fresh-food supply-chain tracking project for a $50B retail chain. Since then they have built and deployed a complex software platform, integrated with IoT devices tracking temperature, location and trip time, from farm to retail store. AgUnity has also delivered solutions for the Wool industry, and has been approached by the Red Meat and Sustainable Fishing industries for technology services.

AgUnity’s first of its kind smartphone technology provides the tools for large companies and NGOs to have the positive impact they often strive for and gives millions in poverty access to basic digital services that allow individuals to securely transact and sell goods through its super app.

Retail and sophisticated investors will be able to purchase shares in AgUnity through the equity crowd fund with Equitise in the first stage of the company’s overall $5 million Series A capital raise. In early 2020, AgUnity will look to raise an additional $1.75 million from wholesale and sophisticated investors in a second round and a further $2 million from a third.

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