TellusLabs Raises $3.1M Seed Round Led by IA Ventures

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Earth Monitoring and Machine Learning Company Turns Spaceborne Imagery and Data About Planet Earth into Actionable Insights

TellusLabs, an Earth monitoring and machine learning company, today announced that it raised $3.1 million in seed funding led by IA Ventures and including Hyperplane Venture Capital, Founder Collective, and Project 11 Ventures. Based in Boston, TellusLabs provides answers to time-sensitive economic and environmental questions by assembling decades of satellite imagery and other geospatial data into a dynamic map of the Earth. When connected to TellusLabs’ big data and machine learning platform, that map fuels insights that are more accurate, timely, and granular than what is possible from traditional, terrestrial approaches.

The first product suite, Kernel, which is focused on the $3 trillion global agriculture market, is a good example. This past growing season, a Kernel beta provided forecasts of U.S. soy and corn yields. The product's machine learning algorithms were trained on decades of harvest data, spaceborne imagery, weather, and in-field observations across nearly 175 M acres of cropland. The result was an accurate and actionable forecast of yield that was delivered daily, and ahead of government reporting, to hundreds of farmers, commodity traders and agriculture businesses.

The Kernel beta is just the beginning. With this seed round of funding complete, TellusLabs is accelerating ongoing efforts to take Kernel into emerging markets and new crop types. In addition, the company is growing its multidisciplinary team of applied geographers, engineers, and data scientists to create new intelligence suites in sectors such as water resources, forestry, urban systems and energy and industrial activities.

“At TellusLabs we share a commitment to unlocking the power of planetary-scale satellite imagery. We are convinced that when paired with the right technologies, science-quality Earth data holds answers to unasked questions of increasing environmental and economic urgency,” said David Potere, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of TellusLabs. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with our new investor team in our mission to bring this spaceborne data to life with accurate, actionable, daily insights that really make a difference here on Earth.”

“We’re witnessing the birth of a new space sector,” said Roger Ehrenberg, managing partner of IA Ventures. “While the market will ultimately impact decision making in almost all industries on Earth, there is clear initial demand for intelligence on global crop production. With the team’s deep domain experience in satellite remote sensing, physical geography, and statistics and machine learning, we view TellusLabs as an early leader in this burgeoning market.”

Armed with satellite imagery from NASA and the European Space Agency to form the most complete record of the planet ever produced, TellusLabs is developing solutions aimed squarely at some of the toughest social and environmental problems.

“Our goal is to provide insights from satellite imagery that will help solve the biggest problems facing society. How will we feed a rapidly growing global population? How will we manage our increasingly limited water resources? How can we best manage our land and forest resources in an era of climate change? The answer to these pressing questions can be addressed by satellite imagery and Earth data, and the private sector has to be part of the solution. We aim to be a big part of that story,” said Mark Friedl, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Science Officer (CSO) of TellusLabs.

About TellusLabs:
TellusLabs is an Earth monitoring and machine learning company based in Boston. The company provides answers to high-stakes economic and environmental questions by assembling decades of satellite imagery and other geospatial data into a dynamic map of the Earth. When connected to the team’s big data and machine learning platform, that map fuels insights that are more accurate, timely, and granular than what is possible from traditional ground-bound approaches. Last growing season, TellusLabs provided hundreds of beta participants from all over the world with a daily forecast of the US corn and soy harvest that was accurate and ahead of US government estimates. For more information visit http://www.telluslabs.com.

About the team:
Co-founders David Potere, PhD, and Professor Mark Friedl, PhD, have decades of combined experience in applied geospatial and satellite science and technology. David, a former Navy officer, co-founded the data science practice at the Boston Consulting Group and helped to grow that team into a thriving 100+ person global business. Mark is an internationally recognized remote sensing scientist and professor at Boston University, where he leads a research group focused on novel algorithms and global-scale products.

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