Abby Rose – On raising non-extractive funding and the power of AI to help farmers with observation

A conversation with Abby Rose, co-founder of Vidacycle and Farmerama, about the role and potential of AI in observation, alternative investment, the power of transparency, why regenerative viticulture is so interesting, and more.

Why did someone who didn’t really need the money and had serious and reasonable questions about the tendency of startups, both in and outside the regenerative space, to keep raising money, ended up raising funding? Not in a traditional, potentially extractive way, but a revenue share, and service fee, and a cap.



AI can be an enabler in regenerative agriculture, allowing for more efficient observations and analysis. According to Abby AI has transformative potential in regenerative agriculture, as it can streamline observation processes and facilitate data analysis for farmers. She emphasizes the simplicity and effectiveness of AI-driven tools in aiding rapid field assessments, fostering confidence in decision-making.

”There are lots of little ways that AI can actually be an enabler in this context. In a way, our apps are very low-tech; they’re allowing those observations to be stored and then some analysis of that. […] So, for example, one thing we’re currently investigating is: can we use AI to help auto-label? This isn’t quite the right word, but let’s just use it here. Auto-label, photographs of land. So, when a farmer is out there and they’re wanting to understand the impact of grazing after and before putting animals in a field, if you could just take a photo and the AI could help you say, okay, well, 30% of it is bare ground, 25% is grass, 45% is residue, or something like that. So, to me, that’s a very simple application that is potentially supporting the person in the field to make that quick assessment. And in a way, what I’m excited about is that it could act as a confidence builder.” Abby Rose


Reflecting on Vidacycle’s journey, Abby shares insights into their deliberate approach to funding, navigating the balance between organic growth and external investment. She underscores the complexities of the financial landscape while embracing innovative models like revenue-backed loans, aligning with their ethos of sustainability and shared risk. Abby explains their resistance to taking large lump sums of outside investment, citing the need for organic growth and the complexity of the financial world.

”In the end, it was a little bit about experimentation for ourselves as well. The ethos of Vidacycle has been about organic growth. And I’ve always been reticent to push too hard…” Abby Rose

”The space does change, but it takes time for people to come in and for things to shift. And for farmers, they also need time to recalibrate and get on board with some of these ideas. And so, for me, just pumping money in, although it can speed things up from a tech perspective and a business perspective, the farming world isn’t always able to… It can’t just speed things up. So, to me, there’s always been an underlying tension in that. And that’s why I’ve resisted going down that kind of large lump sum outside investment route. But at this point, it did feel like there was a surge in interest, and momentum is shifting at a pace that we hadn’t seen previously. […] So, suddenly, it did become apparent that, actually, it felt like demand was rising faster than we could potentially fulfil it. And so, let’s explore what it means to take some outside funding.” – Abby Rose


Abby and their team explore the revenue-backed loan option, which aligns with their regenerative business lens and feels like a positive way to go about it.

”They came to us with the revenue-back loan option. It just felt like a really positive way to go about it. And so, from our kind of regenerative business lens, that felt like an opportunity to do this in a way that aligned with what we were about.” – Abby Rose

”From what I understand, the revenue-back loan, essentially, what it looks like is that we are paying back the loan based off of a certain percentage of our revenue over the years that we take to pay back that loan. And so, there’s no interest on the loan. There is a service fee for each year that we take to pay back. But, essentially, there’s not this looming pressure of a set amount that we’re going to have to pay back, regardless of our revenue, or, what if COVID hit or the year COVID hit, and suddenly your revenues plummet. It’s not like you’re going to have to face defaulting on the payback. It feels much more like there’s a shared risk between whoever’s giving the loan and whoever is taking the loan. In that sense, it all depends on the revenue. That’s what is determining how much is being paid back each year.” – Abby Rose


The wine industry is lagging behind in regenerative practices, but has the potential to leap frog ahead. In discussing the evolution of viticulture, Abby sheds light on the wine industry which has historically focused on the geology of soil rather than its biology, which has hindered its ability to enter the broader conversation about soil as a living organism.. She highlights the burgeoning movement of regenerative viticulture, emphasizing its integral role in addressing broader environmental concerns within the wine industry.

”So, now that framework is available for viticulturists and agro-foresters to use in their soils alongside their crops, the plants, and in a way, that’s the culmination of many years of being part of and helping to build this regenerative viticulture movement. And I think it’s reaching a new, just like the more general regenerative agriculture, regenerative viticulture is now having more of a moment. It’s definitely lagging behind the wider movement, but it’s happening.” – Abby Rose

”It was amazing to see the reception, and it felt like the wine world is ready for this communication about the importance of the soil, the importance of the water sources and water, and how that’s connected to wine. And I think that’s something that has been missing from a lot of the wine conversations: that wine is actually connected to the changing climate, to carbon levels, to water cycles, and to the health of our soils. Somehow, they’ve avoided that for many years. But suddenly, it feels like they’re starting to cotton on to that.” – Abby Rose


Koen and Abby also talked about:

  • The power of transparency in a business
  • Using AI to enhance farming practices
  • Regenerative agriculture and indigenous perspectives




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

Join the Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food newsletter on

The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *