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Roboflow raises $2.1 million seed round

Roboflow, a Des Moines-based startup that empowers developers to build their own computer vision applications, has raised a $2.1 million seed round co-led by Lachy Groom and Craft Ventures.

Additional investors in the round include Next Level Ventures, Segment co-founder Calvin French-Owen, Lob CEO Leore Avidar, Firebase co-founder James Tamplin and early Dropbox engineer Aston Motes.

This summer, the company was accepted into Y Combinator’s 2020 Summer Batch. “YC’s Demo Day is how we ended up connecting with Craft. And then Lachy is someone who I asked via the YC network for an introduction to them,” said Joseph Nelson, co-founder and CEO of Roboflow.

Roboflow plans to use the new funding to expand its team. The company is actively hiring and currently has positions for Growth Analyst and Full Stack Engineer listed on its careers page.

“We still have quite a bit to figure out in a fun way,” said Nelson. “One big thing is hiring. The second is that, while we have a product that thousands of developers have used, there’s still a lot more to build.”

Since Roboflow launched in January 2020, more than 20,000 developers have used Roboflow’s platform, Nelson told Clay & Milk.

“Once you start to have users and customers, they have wants and needs, and kind of point you in the right direction of what it is you should be building,” said Nelson. “It’s basically a question of prioritizing that feedback and having a really good view of who you’re building for.”

The company also shared that it raised a previously-unannounced $500k angel round earlier this summer.

Previous coverage

Roboflow accepted into Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 Batch -Aug. 25, 2020

Roboflow is streamlining the development of computer vision apps -Jan. 23, 2020

Roboflow raises $2.1 million seed round | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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