The Korea Herald

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SK Square invests W35b in agricultural tech startup Green Labs

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Dec. 27, 2021 - 14:46

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An image shows a user interface of the Farm Morning app on a smartphone. (SK Square) An image shows a user interface of the Farm Morning app on a smartphone. (SK Square)
SK Square, an information and communication technology arm of SK Group, has added South Korean agricultural startup Green Labs to its range of portfolio companies with a 35 billion won ($29.5 million) investment as a sole investor, it said Monday.

The startup operates a smart farming platform called “Farm Morning,” dedicated to optimizing the supply chain of crop harvesting and distribution, as well as providing data-driven consulting services to farmers.

The deal puts the current enterprise valuation of Green Labs within the range of 600 billion-800 billion won, according to the company, adding that the agtech startup will “soon earn a unicorn valuation of over $1 billion.”

Its revenue is projected to exceed 100 billion won by the year’s end with 450,000 subscribers to the platform, SK Square said. The startup aims to see its revenue jump fivefold and double the number of subscribers by 2022.

SK Square also said the investment will lay a groundwork for a potential collaboration with its portfolio companies including e-commerce subsidiary 11st, adding that the synergy may result in a wider distribution channel for crops by Farm Morning subscribers. Also, farmers on the “Farm Morning Carbon” service will be allowed to trade carbon credits with SK Group affiliates.

Green Labs’ latest fundraising was announced in January, in a $18 million series B round funding led by Hashed. The company, founded in 2017, has raised a cumulative funding of 40 billion won.

The news comes a month after SK Square, launched as a spinoff from South Korea’s largest telco SK Telecom, announced its bet on the blockchain wave.

SK Square is now the second-largest shareholder of Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange operator Korbit with a 90 billion won investment. It also injected 8 billion won in capital in Onmind, a Kakao-backed virtual human maker, in exchange for a 40 percent stake.

Immediately after the carve-out, SK Square acquired a controlling stake in 11st, security service company SK Shieldus and navigation service company T Map Mobility. Also, SK Square holds about a 20 percent stake in Korea’s memory chip and flash drive maker SK hynix, as well as a 48 percent stake in app store operator One Store, being the largest shareholder of both companies. Among them, One Store has filed for an initial public offering with the Korea Exchange for a listing on the Korean stock market next year.