Klaus-Martin Meyer: Bruno, you are the CEO of Agroop. Would you please tell us a little bit about your startup and your personal background as well?
Bruno Fonseca: Hello. Thank you in advance for your questions and for your interest in hearing a little about our story. Agroop’s idea came after completing my master’s thesis in Communication Design. I was developing a rebranding work for a young farmer and after several conversations he revealed the need to use a management and operational digital tool since all the other available tools were counterintuitive. Thus I began to investigate more about it and actually realized that as a designer I could develop a more intuitive product focused on the user experience. Since then in the last 18 months our team has been focused on developing our first product, a truly disruptive multiplatform application called Agroop Operational.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: At the moment you are acquiring fund on Seedrs. Why did you decide to do a crowdfunding instead of looking for angel investors or a VCs?
Bruno Fonseca: We selected Seedrs for our campaign because in addition to helping us to raise money, it is allowing Agroop to gain visibility and credibility. Seedrs due diligence process is extremely demanding, which brings lots of security to potential investors and credibility to us. On the other hand, we feel that some financing mechanisms are still not very open to support startups in a prototype phase, and even less in an industry that is perceived as very conservative as it is the case of agriculture. However, that’s not our opinion. Currently there are strong national and international indicators which support that agriculture is a sector with huge potential in the future.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Why is Seedrs your platform of choice? Did you evaluate any alternatives? Are there any portuguese crowdfunding platforms?
Bruno Fonseca: In Portugal the existing crowdfunding platforms do not have enough expression yet. We had evaluated other alternatives such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter still we preferred Seedrs as this platform is known for its high credibility, it is European and it has the equity system.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are there any challenges of dealing with a UK crowdfunding platform for a portuguese company?
Bruno Fonseca: As Portuguese entrepreneurs we feel that we need to make an even greater effort to achieve our goals. The recent economic crisis in Europe has raised some cultural issues that have affected the perception that many countries have about Portugal and other countries of southern Europe. It is inevitable to feel some frustration regarding this issue because we believe that we as a team have the same capability, dedication and honesty as any other international team. Nevertheless I am aware that we do not have the same opportunities. Sometimes separate the wheat from the chaff.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Why should a crowd investor invest in your company? What are the specific risks of your business approach the investors should have in mind?
Bruno Fonseca: The crowd investor should invest on us because we possess a well-structured, distinctive and innovative project. In addition we have a pragmatic, resilient and focused multidisciplinary team and the support of an advisory panel that has strong knowledge. To conclude we have a clear internationalization desire, more than 600 expectant subscribers in our website, several beta testers, a huge passion for what we do and a very clear vision of our path.
We consider that the project has a strong international potential and therefore we are already represented in Norway, Sweden and Brazil.
I suppose that the main risk as in any other SaaS (Software as a service) startup is to have the right marketing capability to generate buzz and attract a significant number of customers. However our team has a strong vocation for issues related to branding and brand management. We believe that in the medium and long term Agroop will also continue to be a robust brand due to its ability to communicate in a disruptive and emotional way.