Aqua-Spark backs Vietnamese shrimp tech business

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A trio of investment bodies has put capital into Vietnamese shrimp farming technology business Tepbac.

Netherlands-based global aquaculture investment fund Aqua-Spark, global agrifood tech VC AgFunder, and Vietnam-focused VC fund Son Tech Investment have teamed up to invest an undisclosed sum in Tepbac, which supplies shrimp farmers with IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled hardware and a data-based platform to manage their farms digitally.

Founded by Phong Tran, whose family has farmed shrimp for over 25 years, Tepbac began as a media company and has grown into one of the leading aquaculture news websites globally.

Now, the company is focused on digitizing shrimp farming with the mission to help shrimp farmers perform better, resulting in better quality of life. Its primary innovations include “Envisor,” a remote water cleaning and monitoring device which keeps track of water conditions such as pH, oxygen, temperature, and salinity. Phong also built the framework for the Farmext mobile app, which provides farmers with software and hardware to help automate farming operations.

“I started Tepbac to help shrimp farmers, first in Vietnam, and later around the world,” says Lam Nguyen, Co-founder of Tepbac. “With better tools, increased production and improved quality, we can develop a more sustainable global aquaculture industry. The support of these investors signals the strength of our model and an important shift in the industry.”

Vietnam is one of the world’s largest shrimp production countries with a country-wide goal of tripling production. Yet, Vietnamese farmers struggle with growing environmental and sustainability challenges. Because of the company’s product readiness, existing media brand, and strong relationships with farmers in Vietnam, Tepbac is well-positioned to address these issues across the shrimp value chain through better data and digitization.

To date, Tepbac is serving 1,500 farms, with its clientele ranging from small and large-scale farmers, to shrimp processing plants and the government. With this infusion of funding, Tepbac will scale its suite of technologies, which are known to reduce risk, simplify farming operations, and save costs, enabling better farming decision-making and quality of life. Already, Tepbac has proven valuable for farmers, the company said, reducing costs by 20% and increasing profits by 30%.

“We’re immensely pleased to welcome Tepbac into our portfolio,” said Lissy Smit, CEO of Aqua-Spark. “With Vietnam’s focus on increasing sustainable production of aquaculture and the limited number of aquatech companies currently serving the Vietnamese, Tepbac is uniquely positioned to digitize aquaculture while solving pain points along the way. Tepbac’s platform captured our attention because it has incredible potential to improve market access for small farmers and enable more sustainable practices, all while growing and protecting one of the largest shrimp markets in the world.”

“Since our initial investment into Tepbac via the AgFunder GROW Impact Fund, we have been impressed with the waves that Tepbac has been making in Vietnam’s shrimp farming industry.

“Tepbac’s unique platform – its media assets, e-commerce platform, comprehensive suite of software and IoT devices, positions them to become the leader in a blue ocean market. We look forward to continuing to support Phong and his team as they scale their business in Vietnam and beyond,” said Angela Tay, Senior Investment Associate, AgFunder Asia.

Tung Tran, Investment Manager, Son Tech, said: “Together with Aqua-Spark and AgFunder, Son Tech hopes to support Tepbac in their journey to truly transform aquaculture end-to-end. This, if executed correctly, can generate rippling benefits across the whole industry – to name a few: train more agri-tech talents, create the first agri-infrastructure and platform, and set a powerful example of executing an agri-playbook.”

 

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