Investment Notes

Investment Notes: Blakthumb

We have been following this founding team for some time - and have now led Blakthumb's pre-seed round! Read below why we think Mel and Carey are the founders to build beautiful software for the indoor agriculture market.

Georgie Turner

Feb 25, 2022 · 3 min read

Blakthumb is a software company that provides an intuitive end-to-end operating system for cultivators and producers of cannabis and food. Their mission is to build resilient communities through the power of decentralised production.

The Tidal team recently led Blakthumb's pre-seed round, and we're publishing our investment notes below. We invest across a range of markets, models, and products. There are core principles that we live and die by in our investment decisions. For more information on the pillars that make a great Tidal Seed Investment, see how we invest here.

Markets with Tailwinds

An underserved market.

For the past decade, technology built for the Indoor Agriculture market has focused on (1) environmental control and (2) compliance. As a result, almost all the technology advancements have been made in hardware systems (including vertical racking, nutrient mixes and LED lights), compliance software, and sensor technologies, with highly fragmented distribution.

The operational side of growing plants (management of people & processes) has been almost entirely ignored. However, with hardware costs coming down and market tailwinds pushing consumer demand, the Indoor Ag market is starting to mature.

We believe cultivators will need a competitive advantage in operational efficiency, quality management and high performing teams in order to thrive and scale.

The timing is now.

In 2021, the cannabis and indoor food production market generated $201.9 billion in revenue and it's growing rapidly at a CAGR of 17.6%. The North American cannabis market is exploding as the world begins to recognise the medicinal benefits of the plant. The indoor food industry is benefiting from the cannabis flow-on effects, as capex decreases and consumer preferences, food security issues and supply chain pressure pushes the world toward more sustainable food production methods.

The market tailwinds are in place and the infrastructure requirements are now increasingly cost effective and easily accessible. With Blakthumb's operating system, cultivators will have the final piece of the puzzle to enable them to start, optimise and scale their growing operations. Blakthumb will become the market enabler and unlock this growth.

Products that Change the Game

There is a burning need for beautiful software in this market.

Planning for production is typically done on a spreadsheet, and task management is on a whiteboard or in a Team Leader's head. None of these methods are sustainable or scalable operationally, and the approach is prone to human error, which runs the risk of something catastrophic happening. Team Leaders worry about this constantly, and can lead to burnout or resignation.

Cannabis cultivation is a nascent industry that lacks experience. The result is an industry with a high turnover rate - between 40-60% of people leave within the first two months - and the two major reasons why people leave are lack of recognition and lack of job structure. This is costing the US cannabis industry at least $1 billion each year.

A vertical SaaS product with a System for Action.

Software tends to be built for business owners who want data rather than teams who need to take action. Teams end up dealing with multiple legacy systems that don't actually help them do their jobs and show their work. Production teams don't need another system of record, they need a system for action. The data they create provides the insights and predictions they need to take smarter actions.

Blakthumb brings order to the chaos by providing Team Leaders with an automated, digital tool to replace their static tools. At its core, the product provides visibility over the cultivators end-to-end production environment. Blakthumb manages the complexity of production issues and delays, both quickly and with assurance. Blakthumb captures data across all areas of production to deliver precise strain performance insights and make it easy to plan and delegate tasks effectively.

Founders that Hustle

The winning product will be built by experts who care deeply about the customer.

Software can't be built for cannabis and food production without deep domain expertise. The industry is complex with specific terminology, processes, and exceptions to the rules - and to win here, you need credibility. Mel and Carey are the team to build the best product for this market. They have been producers themselves, they have researched the market extensively and they have done deep dive user research to hit on the right value proposition.

Blakthumb Founders Mel Fyfe (LHS) and Carey Taylor

Blakthumb Founders Mel Fyfe (LHS) and Carey Taylor

This founding team are some of the most determined we have seen in years. They have been seeking the right business model for this market for 6 years with minimal outside capital. This is their life’s work and we at Tidal feel privileged to be backing them with early Seed capital to kick start their plans to change this world.

If you're a visionary founder who is ready to make waves, please reach out via our website.

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