TeleSense Acquires Webstech – Accelerating European Commercialization

Our portfolio company, TeleSense, recently announced the acquisition of Webstech, a Danish wireless sensor company with a strong European user base. This acquisition accelerates TeleSense’s entry into the European market. We think this demonstrates a growing opportunity in agtech for growth by acquisition – something that we actively encourage with our companies.

So how did we get to this point? We led the $6.5M Series A investment in TeleSense in the fall of 2018 following a comprehensive review of post-farmgate supply chain opportunities. While consumer food preferences are changing quickly—requiring simpler labels, more transparency and traceability, as well as access to higher quality, local products—we observed that the current analog supply chain is ill-equipped to support this movement at scale because it cannot provide the information matching these consumer demands as commodities are handed off from one player to another across the value chain. The supply chain that Telesense is helping create relies on scaled hardware, software, and data solutions to meet these demands. Telesense’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform for stored agriculture products, which can predict quality attributes and match to demand cycles both hyper-locally as well as globally, represents a fundamental building block of the new supply chain.

However, to really support the reinvention of the supply chain, companies need to scale rapidly – to increase data pools and user bases. While TeleSense’s hardware product lineup includes proprietary sensors to collect novel data, the GrainSafe platform can also incorporate data from outside of the TeleSense technology stack. It is a perfect platform to combine proprietary technology-driven growth with opportunistic, acquisition-driven growth. Consequently, when the team identified Webstech—which offered the potential to rapidly expand both TeleSense’s European customer base and the proprietary dataset used in its machine learning models—the strategic value of the transaction was obvious.

This is a strategy we’ve helped employ before and are growing more enthusiastic about its use. Last year, Taranis (another Finistere portfolio company) acquired Mavrx in a deal that grew the combined user base and sped up US market engagement, building a more flexible tech stack and bringing on local people to drive the business. It served as a proven model to help TeleSense confidently pursue this transaction. We think that the Webstech acquisition gives TeleSense, like Taranis with Mavrx, a distinct advantage in a crowded marketplace and an immediate EU presence. As the agtech sector continues to mature in the coming year, we expect there will be many “smart rollup” opportunities ahead. Be on the lookout for the continued consolidation of agtech startups as best-in-class players rise to the top and use acquisition to speed scale.

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