In the world of irrigation technology, one eight-year old startup is rising to the top of the competitive pack. Denver-based SWIIM System – formally known as the Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management System – has software that creates a crop-water budget based on data collected over 60 times an hour and also allows growers to track water usage in real-time. It’s currently in use across more than 70,000 acres of U.S. farmland growing both permanent and annual crops, as well as Los Angeles’s water utility regulator – the largest in all of California – Metropolitan Water District.
“In today’s world, water is at a premium. And it’s in limited supply,” CEO Kevin France told Forbes at its annual Ag Tech Summit in Salinas, California. “We don’t have to tell our growers any of this. Because they know it. Once bitten, twice shy.”
As California is coming out of a five-year-long drought, one of the worst in the state’s history, while Colorado has similarly experienced water scarcity recently, France says SWIIM’s sales are increasing rapidly. “When we started this business model, we had a lot of non-believers saying, ‘Well, after the drought’s over, what’s the use of having the tool set that is this robust?'” France says. “After the drought, our business went through the roof. Because growers knew. Back when the drought was happening, they were a little apprehensive about doing anything. Now that the drought’s over, they’re in a position where they know what happened. And they don’t want to have it happen again.”
Forbes recently named SWIIM as one of the top 25 most innovative ag tech startups – in part because of its proprietary technology. The system was co-developed over five years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which created the underlying, patented algorithm that helps growers best use their water. SWIIM also has another patent which essentially covers the entire process, and another two patents pending. SWIIM has raised more than $12.6 million in funding to date.