Aiming to bring advanced data analytics to farmers, Hanatech IoT has publicly stated the ambitious goal of producing annual revenues of $50 million within five years.
The Bedford-based company says it has developed an Internet of Things, or IoT, solution that takes readings from sensors and uses proprietary algorithms to instantly produce data on a single platform. Though the Platform-as-a-Service solution works for other customers, such as building developers, the company is primarily targeting fruit and vegetable farmers because of scalability.
“The beauty of it is it really snowballs into other opportunities as soon as you have one application down,” said Co-Founder and CFO Chuck Lienaux in an interview. He said the farmers “say, Can you use it for this or use it for that. It will solve many problems for the farmer.”
Though there are already a lot of tech products on the market for livestock and poultry farmers, Lienaux said there are few for farmers who grow plants. Hanatech IoT is now doing pilots in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, working with such major players as Scotian Gold. It has hired a regional manager for Ontario to grow the business in that province, and will target the U.S. market next. It is planning for a general launch in time for the 2020 growing season.
The Hanatech story began in 2013 when CEO Ali Nafarieh and CTO Ali Hamidi formed Hanatech Inc. to provide tech services for real estate developers. These included installing sensors and meters in buildings and using IoT algorithms to automate things like climate control in buildings.
That business grew and the co-founders brought in Lienaux in 2017 to be their top finance exec, and the three partners formed a new entity, Hanatech IoT. Its flagship product is OneSmartView.com, which presents readings from the system on a single platform, allowing the user to make quick decisions to improve productivity.
Two years ago, Hanatech installed the system in the smart city hall in Berwick, in the Annapolis Valley, and began talking to local farmers about the possibility of using the solution to address agricultural problems. One huge problem in apple orchards is the threat of fire blight – a disease with the potential to wipe out entire farms and make the land unsuitable for apple trees in the future.
Hanatech IoT has now installed sensors in apple orchards in the Annapolis Valley for early detection of the risk of fire blight. Spraying orchards to combat the disease is expensive, so farmers can save money by only spraying the most at-risk farmland.
Lienaux said the company can produce new algorithms to carry out other tasks on farms.
Hanatech IoT still sells to real estate developers, and its technology will be used in Southwest Properties’ Pavillion and Curve developments at the corner of Sackville and South Park in Halifax. But real estate installations are onerous, and the company can scale more quickly by simply sending sensors to farmers to install in their orchards and fields.
The company is also working with the pathologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for “the blight model”. Lienaux said Hanatech hopes this leads to connections with resellers and distributors in the U.S., which would greatly accelerate sales.
Hanatech Inc. and its IoT affiliate together employ 18 people, and Lienaux said they could add about five to 10 employees in the next year. It plans to add 70 employees in the next five years as revenues rise, with a goal of $50 million a year by 2024.
The three co-founders still own all the equity in Hanatech IoT, though they are now talking to investors about a first round of equity financing.
It has received funding from several government agencies and a loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada. Last month, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency contributed a $375,000 grant to support market expansion and a $50,000 grant to hire a sales person.
Correction: An early version of this article misrepresented the annual revenue and hiring targets.