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Blue River Technology

For building smart farming machines that massively reduce the amount of chemicals required to grow food.

Co-Founders
Jorge Heraud, Lee Redden
2016 Revenue
Undisclosed
Industry
Agriculture & Natural Resources
Location
Sunnyvale, CA
Founded
2011
Employees
50
Raised
$30 million
Blue River Technology's LettuceBot.
Photo Credit: Courtesy company

Why It's Disruptive

Blue River Technology has spent five years figuring out how best to apply cutting-edge computing "vision" to the realm of agriculture. The company makes machines that let farmers target individual plants with herbicides, which eliminates the need to spray whole fields all at once, reduces the spread on chemicals, and helps maximize seed yield. Blue River says that its devices are capable of reducing by up to 90 percent the chemicals farmers use, and that they are currently operating on 10 percent of the lettuce grown in the U.S.

Blue River likens its go-to-market strategy to Tesla's method of focusing on the high end of the market first. The company is starting with high-value, high-maintenance crops like lettuce and cotton; by 2018 the team plans to address the "mass market" of corn, soybeans, and wheat. The analogy doesn't stop there—Blue River also uses some of the same tech inside self-driving cars, especially when it comes to processing images so that the company's machines can "see" plants.

Biggest Challenges

As a venture-funded startup, Blue River Technology will need to scale quickly. Expanding its customer base, which involves teaching new customers how to use Blue River's robots effectively, will take time. Plus, it's significantly more difficult and costly to build custom hardware, which has to be just right when it's launched, than it is to roll out software that can be tweaked and updated continually. --Sonya Mann 

MORE COMPANY INFORMATION

LinkedIn
linkedin.com/company/bluerivertech
Website
bluerivert.com