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Dunedin-based tech startup Winely has closed a capital funding round of $2m to help its mission of bringing revolutionary technology to one of the world’s oldest industries.
Venture capitalists from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States contributed to the seed round, which includes investors from companies such as Atlassian and Canva.
Winely helps winemakers automate a traditionally labour-intensive aspect of wine production: fermentation analysis for quality control.
Traditionally, the process involves manual lab-based sampling which is slow, laborious, time consuming, inaccurate, and can be a health and safety risk.
Winely uses proprietary IoT-connected sensors, artificial intelligence, and cloud-based software to give winemakers a much more thorough and accurate picture of their wine in real-time, showing them various key metrics through a web app on their computer or other device.
“We’re ecstatic about the funding round,” says Winely co-founder and CEO Jacob Manning.
“This funding is a show of faith in our team, our technology, and in our vision of bringing Winely to the global winemaking market.”
“We’re excited about speeding up our trajectory in bringing this game-changing technology to the winemaking world thanks to the capital raise.”
Winely is doubling their current team of seven with several specialist engineers joining the company in November.
Winely completed its first field trials, vintage 2019, in Central Otago. Since then, it’s expanded rapidly, deploying technology across the major wine regions in New Zealand, Australia, and California.
Winely works with premium wine brands and global parent companies. Its customers represent 77% of US local market consumption and although Winely can’t share who exactly they are working with, their customers supply 80% of the wines commonly seen in the supermarket.
“Our business is another example of New Zealand technology being a real global leader in agri-tech,” Winely co-founder and CTO Abbe Hyde says.
“We are building the world’s first real-time fermentation analysis platform, using emerging IoT sensors, and AI to give winemakers the information they need to deeply understand their ferments, as they happen.”
Vintage is an intense time for wineries and the difference between good wine and great wine can sometimes be as nuanced as getting the timing of a certain process right by just a few hours.
“Wine is a living, biological product which changes rapidly,” Manning says.
“Current sampling processes mean only one or two data points can be taken a day and that’s not good enough for timely decisions. With Winely, winemakers get real-time data right from their computer. Our technology helps our clients gain a competitive edge.”
“Winemaking is rooted in chemistry and biology; it’s a scientific process and with enough data, we can begin to demystify the fermentation process, deeply understand what is happening, and ultimately: optimise the end wine.”