A chat with… Matteo Vanotti and Matteo Cunial, xFarm Technologies

Endeavor talks with...
4 min readMay 31, 2024

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Welcome back to Endeavor talks with…! This time we had a chat with Matteo Vanotti and Matteo Cunial, co-founders of xFarm. We discussed the role that agriculture can play in the current climate crisis and how the tech transition can help initiate a virtuous cycle. Happy reading!

Tell us about yourselves. Where do you come from, and what is your background?

Vanotti: I studied engineering and worked in fintech for nine years, dealing with big data in another company. I grew up with my family on a farm, which introduced me to agriculture and farming entrepreneurship from a young age.

Cunial: I studied civil engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan. After graduating, I worked for a couple of years in management consulting. At the end of 2017, I decided to leave that field to found Farm Technologies, which later merged with xFarm, creating xFarm Technologies in 2022. I have always felt a strong connection to agriculture, as my family owns a farm in northeastern Italy, near Trieste.

What led you to become entrepreneurs? Were you looking for a startup, or did xFarm “find you”?

Vanotti: It all happened naturally. I was looking for a way to digitize operations within our family farm, so I explored the options available in the United States and Europe, but there wasn’t a platform that allowed me to manage everything via my phone, with an app connected to the machinery and sensors. That is why I decided to develop it myself. It was a similar situation for Matteo as well.

What challenges did you face in bringing innovation to a traditional field?

Vanotti: Although the farming industry is conservative, it has undergone many innovations throughout history that have had enormous social impact. In the 20th century alone, we had the mechanical revolution, the chemical revolution, and the genetic revolution. Today, we are in the midst of a fourth revolution, the digital one. Technologies such as sensors, connected machinery, and drones generate a large amount of data that we can interpret and use through artificial intelligence to transform the way we cultivate and manage our fields. It is crucial to communicate the added value of the digital transformation we promote by breaking the “it’s how it has always been done” paradigm, and that is one of the main challenges.

It is crucial to communicate the added value of the digital transformation
we promote by breaking the “it’s how it has always been done” paradigm, and that is one of the main challenges.

Why don’t you share some of your achievements so far?

Vanotti: Today, we have about 400,000 farms on our platform and collaborate with over 50 large businesses. The market recognizes what we do, and we’re proud of that because it means what we have built has had a real impact.

What role does agriculture play in the ongoing climate crisis, and how does xFarm plan to make it more sustainable?

Cunial: Agriculture is the only industry with a dual role. On the one hand, farmers work literally under the sky, making their work much more vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, which significantly impact crops. Farmers must develop an unprecedented ability for adaptation, and the role of a tech company like xFarm is also to help them increase their resilience. On the other hand, agriculture is responsible for about 23–25% of anthropogenic emissions, considering not only farm activities but also livestock and land use in general. It’s also worth noting that agriculture is one of the few fields capable of absorbing carbon dioxide. We are currently helping the entire agri-food industry understand its ecological footprint so that we can implement strategies to reduce CO2 emissions and the overall impact on the environment by using digital technology and adopting regenerative agriculture practices.

How did you persuade the first investors?

Vanotti: During the first VC round, they trusted our team and long-term vision for an increasingly data-driven kind of agriculture. At the time, it was not at all certain that farming would undertake this digital transformation.

You recently entered two gigantic markets, India and Brazil. What are the main differences you see between those markets and the European one?

Cunial: In Europe, farm sizes range from an average of 25–50 acres in Italy and Spain to 150–300 acres in France and Germany, with even larger ones in Eastern Europe, such as in Ukraine.

In India, there are about 150 million farmers with an average farm size of about 2.5 acres each. They are also generally younger than their European counterparts. That market is fragmented, but it represents a great opportunity because they could skip the traditional steps and move directly to digitalization.

In Brazil, farms are enormous — some are even comparable to entire regions of Italy. Many farms are technologically advanced, owning a large number of machines and boasting large-scale production, with revenues in the tens of millions of dollars.

During the first VC round, they trusted our team and long-term vision for an increasingly data-driven kind of agriculture. At the time, it was not at all certain that farming would undertake this digital transformation.

You took part in the Elevator program and later became Endeavor entrepreneurs. Do you have anything to say about that journey?

It was a very interesting and stimulating journey. We consider the feedback we received from the Endeavor team that walked us through the process and the entrepreneurs who evaluated us incredibly valuable.

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Endeavor talks with...

Endeavor Italy’s monthly column. We talk about the best Italian startups & scaleups, and amazing people.