This Next Billion-Dollar Startup Was Built To Save America’s Farms With Tractorbots

Monarch CEO Praveen Penmetsa expects sales to triple or more this year as it gets its autonomous electric tractors in the hands of farmers, earning the Livermore, California-based company a coveted spot on our annual list of the Next Billion-Dollar Startups.

But launching an agricultural equipment company is tough. It is capital-intensive, and cash-strapped farmers tend to be a conservative lot resistant to change. But Livermore-based Monarch, which has raised $116 million in equity from investors and reached a valuation of $271 million at its most recent equity funding in November 2021, seems to have hit a tipping point. Last year, it booked $22 million in revenue, up from $5 million in 2021. This year Penmetsa expects revenue to increase three- to fivefold. That would bring it above $66 million, and possibly over $100 million, as the number of its tractors in the field goes from more than 100 to 1,000. As it expands, Penmetsa expects that more of its revenue will come from software subscriptions (up to $8,376 per tractor per year) that give farmers real-time alerts about sick plants and safety risks, plus gathering and crunching a ton of data to improve crop yields.

0:00 What Is Monarch?
2:21 How Monarch Built An Autonomous Tractor
6:35 Keeping Up With Customer Demand
8:37 Will Farmers Readily Adapt This New, More Expensive Technology?
11:04 Building A Product Farmers Will Use
12:26 What Monarch’s Four Cofounders Bring To The Table
15:04 “Funding For A Hardware Company Is Challenging”
18:17 Solving The Power Dilemma
22:00 A Look At Monarch’s Safety Features
24:12 Why Build Monarch In California?
25:41 A Market Opportunity Beyond America
28:11 Helping Farmers Brace For Climate Change

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