Le 11/06/2024

Niqo Robotics raises $13M to save up to 60% chemical cost savings

Indian startup Niqo Robotics raises $13 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Bidra Innovation Ventures, with existing stakeholder Omnivore and new investor Fulcrum Global Capital. Jaisimha Rao, Founder & CEO at Niqo Robotics, explains how his startup will save up to 60% chemical cost savings for cotton and chili crops and how FIRA USA changed its destiny!

FIRA | Niqo Robotics has been expanded so fast... Can you remind us of the story of the startup?

Jaisimha Rao, Founder & CEO at Niqo Robotics

JR | The idea for Niqo germinated during a holiday at my family’s coffee farm in India. At that time, I had been working on Wall Street for over seven years after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University. During my stay at the coffee farm, I noticed that existing farming practices were mostly manual, and wisdom driven. I saw the potential for AI-powered agricultural robots to revolutionize the sector.

In 2015, I moved back to India and started Niqo Robotics as an agricultural drone company, aiming to provide advisory services to farmers using data collected by our drones. However, after spending more time with the farming community, we realized the real AI revolution in farming lies in taking real-time, data-driven action on the farm. In 2018, we pivoted to land-based robots and focused on spot spraying. By 2022, we piloted our spot spray robot in India. Following the pilot's success, we launched a fleet of 50 Niqo RoboSpray™ units in 2023, commercializing over 90,000 acres and achieving up to 60% chemical cost savings for cotton and chili crops.

Until 2019, we operated as a bootstrapped startup. Today, Niqo has raised a total of $21 million from Beenext, Bidra Innovation Ventures, Blume Ventures, FMC Corporation, Fulcrum Global Capital, and Omnivore in Seed, Series A, and Series B funding.

FIRA | What does “automation for farming” mean for Niqo?

JR | At Niqo, we believe in automation before autonomy. For us, 'automation in farming' means solving real-world pain points faced by farmers, resulting in increased profitability.

FIRA | What prompted you to apply for the Inno'Pitch at FIRA USA in 2023?

JR | We recognized the power of a platform like FIRA, which brings key stakeholders in Ag Robotics from around the world together. In 2023, we deployed a fleet of 50 Niqo RoboSpray™ units—our flagship spot spray robots—in India. We successfully monetized 90,000 acres and delivered real-time chemical savings of up to 60% for early stage spraying of beneficial for Indian cotton and chili farmers. The Call for Pitches at FIRA USA 2023 felt like the perfect platform to showcase our success story.

FIRA | You just raised Series B (congrats!), and someone told me that you met with some investors at FIRA USA last year... tell us more!

JR | Thank you, and yes, our first connection with Fulcrum Global Capital happened at FIRA USA 2023. They eventually became a key investor in our Series B fund. They appreciated our work with the commercialization of spot spraying in India and saw the potential for our technology to scale and benefit farmers worldwide. After we returned to India, we continued meaningful conversations with Fulcrum, which culminated in their visit to India to see our spot spray technology in action. This led to Fulcrum backing us in our Series B fundraise. We can confidently say that meeting the Fulcrum team at FIRA USA 2023 changed our destiny.

FIRA | What are the next steps of development for Niqo?

The next steps for Niqo are to continue scaling our spot spray technology in India and to launch a spot spray product specifically for the North American vegetable market. R&D for the U.S. product is in full swing, with a launch planned for the end of 2024. We firmly believe that small and medium farm holders will lead the innovation curve in AI farming. Additionally, we plan to expand to the Australian and European markets within the next three years.

Meet Niqo Robotics during the next edition of FIRA USA! They will present their autonomous solution in demo at FIRA and prepare a big announcement...

In the meantime, watch Niqo RoboSpray™ in action!

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