Soil Connect, a digital marketplace focused on the soil and aggregates industry, has closed its $3.25 million seed funding round led by TIA Ventures, a New York City-based seed-stage fund.
Heartland Ventures co-led the round, which also included investments from a diverse mix of venture capital firms, real estate managers and construction companies, including CEMEX Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Situs Real Estate, Altmark Group, AB Investment Group, J.G. Pertucci Company and Bazella Contracting.
In conjunction with the funding, Soil Connect launched an e-ticketing service that advances its mission to revolutionize the transport and management of soil and aggregates. Typically, the ticketing function, which supports the tracking and invoicing of dirt-related transactions, has been completed manually on paper. Under the antiquated paper system, tickets are often illegible, accidently discarded or lost altogether, resulting in a significant loss of time and productivity for contractors. Soil Connect's e-ticking service is digital for simpler transactions.
“As a third-generation builder and developer, the most frustrating part of the job for me was how I continually saw technology change the game for other sectors but bypass the soil and aggregates industry,” says Cliff Fetner, founder and CEO of Soil Connect. “Our goal in launching Soil Connect is not just to create a marketplace, it is to establish the first pure-play one-stop shop for the industry. Making it easier for these individuals to find or dispose of materials was a critical first step, and the e-ticketing function takes it to the next level, further integrating the platform and advancing our objective of supporting the entire transaction from end to end. It’s also entirely contactless, an important attribute during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The closing of the seed round comes shortly after Soil Connect announced a series of strategic hires to further grow the marketplace’s capabilities, including Jonathan Alvarado as chief growth officer and Berkay Sebat as head of mobile. The platform will use the proceeds to continue building out its team and to introduce new enhancements and features, including a regulatory component that will allow users to keep track of materials from origination to destination.
Daniel Fetner, co-founder and advisor to Soil Connect, and principal at Alpaca VC, says, “The diverse make-up of the investors in the seed round is a clear reflection of the uniqueness of Soil Connect’s value proposition as well as the compelling market opportunity for a marketplace of this type, which is solving for a significant need in the industry.”
Andy Greenfield, general partner of TIA Ventures, adds, “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. 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.”
Max Brickman, general partner of Heartland Ventures, adds, “Our investing model brings technologies from the coasts to our construction-focused partners in the heartland. Part of our diligence process encourages investors in our fund to become customers as a way to validate that the technology solution is solving a real problem. Through conversations with our fund investors, it became very obvious to us that the sourcing and transport of dirt and aggs is an enormous pain point, and Soil Connect has proven to be the perfect solution. We’re proud to continue to invest in Soil Connect and remain excited to watch the team scale the nation’s largest dirt marketplace."
Gonzalo Galindo, head of CEMEX Ventures, comments, “The dirt ecosystem is incipient with virtually no public data available. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Soil Connect team, who is bringing transparency to the market and is collecting valuable data for the industry. We are also very pleased to announce a pilot with Soil Connect in the Tampa and Orlando markets."