KUALA LUMPUR, 2 October 2023: Asia-focused venture capital firm, Gobi Partners is doubling down on its commitment to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG)-friendly investments through its latest strategic funding into Malaysian AgriTech startup, BoomGrow’s Pre-Series A Funding Round. The investment is made through the Khazanah Nasional Berhad-backed Gobi Dana Impak Ventures (GDIV) fund.
Founded by a gender-diverse dynamic trio, BoomGrow strives to bring healthy, nutritious food within reach by focusing on densely populated urban areas where traditional farming is scarce and affected by long supply chains. Its co-founders, Murali Krishnamurthy, with an Accounting and Finance background; Dr. Jay Desan, an advisor with extensive experience in ESG; and Shan Palani, a designer and architect, lead this mission.
Since its inception in 2015, BoomGrow has been making waves internationally with its innovative approach to growing fresh produce. They have turned repurposed shipping containers into what they call ‘Machine Farms,’ where they can be located in situ, growing pesticide-free vegetables with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
A key feature of the Machine Farm is the ability to grow close to consumers as well as serve remote areas. Modular and stackable, the Machine Farms are a model for the future of scalable, sustainable hyper-local farming. Compared to traditional outdoor farms, these farms use 95% less land, water and labour. This capability is pivotal in areas with limited access to fresh, clean and traceable produce, which is aligned with the company’s ultimate goal of producing vegetables throughout the entire region.
BoomGrow’s Farm OS meanwhile, is a remote management platform that seamlessly integrates hardware and software. It uses machine vision and machine learning to optimise operations and performance across all farms based on data. Currently, BoomGrow can produce a wide range of leafy greens, microgreens, and herbs. They’re also planning to expand into a wider range of produce like fruiting and vine crops. The company mainly supplies hotels, restaurants and grocers as well as offering additional subscription packages for direct-to-home delivery through their website.
BoomGrow’s forward-thinking innovation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The startup earned a coveted spot on Forbes Asia’s prestigious “100 to Watch List,” making it one of just six Malaysian companies to achieve this recognition. This accolade underscores their dedication to sustainability and impactful strides in revolutionising agriculture.
BoomGrow Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Murali Krishnamurthy said: “We are excited to be part of the Khazanah and Gobi family. BoomGrow is enabling access to better-quality fresh food by focusing on our ESG principles. Our commercial-scale solutions are backed by a data-driven approach which is key to resilience and agile decision-making. Ultimately, we are unlocking the future of food whilst having a transformative impact on the environment and our communities. It’s great to see investor alignment with our vision which will enable us to execute our growth plans across Southeast Asia.”
Khazanah initiated Project Semai, a nationwide research project to better understand the challenges faced by agriculture workers and smallholders to improve Malaysia’s food security. A nationwide survey was conducted, involving over 3,000 smallholders between 2022 and 2023. Climate change was identified as one of the top three challenges faced by smallholders in Malaysia. Therefore, climate-smart agrifood solutions would be critical to enable sustainable and resilient agrifood systems.
Gobi Managing Partner (Malaysia) Jamaludin Bujang said: “We are at the point in history where we cannot overlook the importance of investing in the right companies that can change the world and in BoomGrow, we see just this. Food security is a major issue faced by many countries as a result of climate change, rising population, and limited supply of farming areas. Their innovative solutions are ensuring that our supply chain remains intact and healthy for generations to come.”
BoomGrow operates Machine Farms in Malaysia, and they are in the process of expanding. Their recent move into Manila, Philippines is a strategic response to the high population density and the growing demand for fresh, clean, and nutritious produce. Initial grant funding came from SME Corp and venture capital funding from Big Sky Capital, an American VC firm as well as angel investors. With this latest funding round, BoomGrow aims to expand operations across Southeast Asia.
GDIV is part of Khazanah’s Future Malaysia Programme (FMP), an initiative under the sovereign wealth fund’s Dana Impak (Impact Fund) mandate, with the aim to support the Malaysian start-up ecosystem. Dana Impak is a key pillar of Khazanah’s Advancing Malaysia strategy that aims to deliver socioeconomic impact for Malaysia across six themes – Digital Society and Technology, Quality Health and Education for all, Decent Work and Social Mobility, Food and Energy Security, Building Climate Resilience, and Competing in Global Markets.
BoomGrow, an industry pioneer in precision farming technology is on a mission to fundamentally transform access to hyper-local, pesticide-free produce anchored on the principles of produce, planet and people. BoomGrow’s patent-pending growing systems enable year-round harvests in cities and remote areas whilst disrupting traditional distribution channels, creating an ESG-driven impact. BoomGrow’s FarmOS integrates software and hardware, enabling each farm to reduce up to 95% usage of water, land, waste and labour. This approach underscores BoomGrow’s dedication to fostering sustainability and resilience in the future of farming.