Soil Connect, a startup creating a marketplace for soil and aggregates, announced $3.25 million in seed funding on Wednesday.
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The company connects people and businesses with soil and aggregates–such as stones–with people who need them. Soil Connect was co-founded by CEO Cliff Fetner, a third-generation builder and developer who grew up around construction sites.
Fetner recalls his own father calling people in his network after dinner looking for a certain kind of soil. Not much about sourcing and transporting soil and aggregates has changed since then, Fetner said, except for the use of cellphones instead of landlines.
“We make it quicker, cheaper and faster to resource and move your dirt,” Fetner said. “We create, we make closer connections.”
It’s the movement of dirt that’s very costly, Fetner said, so by helping users find dirt closer to their location, Soil Connect is able to help them save money. The company started with soil, then expanded into aggregates like rocks and stones, and then into recyclables, compost and mulch.
The round was co-led by TIA Ventures and Heartland Ventures, with participation from Cemex Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Situs Real Estate, Altmark Group, AB Investment Group, Bazella Contracting and J.G. Pertucci Company. The seed round follows a $750,000 pre-seed round, bringing the company’s total funding to about $4 million.
“They (TIA Ventures) truly understood what the big vision is and what we’re trying to do,” Fetner said. “They’re marketplace driven as an investment fund. They’re truly understanding of, ‘yes, we’re playing in the dirt,’ if you will, but what we’re doing here is creating a marketplace for dirt and aggregates. And TIA very very early on understood what the vision is.”
“A large part of our investing strategy focuses on finding companies solving visceral pain in industries that haven’t changed in a very long time. We also love marketplace business models where SaaS tools add incremental value for the users,” TIA Ventures general partner Andy Greenfield said in a statement. “Cliff and the team have founder-market-fit in spades, and Soil Connect’s marketplace is unique in that their customers sit on both the supply and demand sides. This gives them an advantage in acquiring customers and allows them to scale faster than a typical marketplace.”
The company hasn’t been generating revenue thus far, as it’s been focusing on growing its platform, Fetner said. But with the third version of Soil Connect and the company’s new e-ticketing function, the company will begin charging a monthly fee per truck.
Soil Connect, which has eight full time employees, will use the new funding to grow its team, particularly its internal tech team and its sales team.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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