Solum plans to take root in Iowa with new funding
The founders of Solum (above) are Ph.D. graduates from Stanford University, but the precision-agriculture company is expanding to Iowa.
After recieving $100,000 from the Iowa Economic Development Authority one week and closing a $17 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz the next, California-based ag-tech startup Solum is planning to build a laboratory in Ames and staff it with local talent.
Solum develops technologies for field sampling and analysis that aim to help farmers increase their yields.
"We believe that soil is the base layer for a lot of decisions around production agriculture," said Landon Morris (left), the company's Lincoln, Neb.-based vice president of business development and marketing, in a phone interview today.
Solum was founded by three Stanford graduates and is headquartered in Mountain View, California, but the company wanted to open a facility in the Midwest to be closer to their clients. They chose Ames because of a warm reception from the community and proximity to Iowa State University, Morris said.
"Solum has invented a radically more accurate technology for testing farm soil, enabling farmers to measure actual nutrient content and apply fertilizer on a targeted and highly granular basis," said John O'Farrell, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a blog post announcing the investment.
The $17 million from Andreessen Horowitz, which also has investments in companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Skype, will help fund the new facility in Ames and staffing.
The $100,000 investment from the Iowa Economic Development Authority was specifically designed to create 25 jobs in Iowa, and Morris said up to 40 additional part-time or seasonal jobs could be created.
"We're looking forward to recruiting the best and brightest in the Midwest," Morris said, including engineers and programmers. He said the company plans to host a job fair in Ames the second week in July, and have the new employees in place by early August.
The 12,000 square foot laboratory to be built in Ames will be operational by the end of August, Morris said.
"This is the first step for a broader plan of expansion," Morris said, "It's a big one, and an important one."
Credits: Photos from solumtech.com.