ASHEVILLE – Ecobot, an Asheville-based developer of environmental data reporting software, has landed a $450,000 seed investment round led by Cary-based Cofounders Capital.
The company is developing software which aims to transform how field data is collected and submitted for regulatory review. The funding will be used to commercialize its software to environmental service companies that conduct field surveys of property to assess environmental impact to wetlands and waterways.
The environmental regulatory services industry is on the verge of a major change, says Lee Lance, CEO and co-founder of Ecobot.
“We’re bringing this best-in-class, modern, sensible software solution that is focused on user experience and performance, directly into an industry that doesn’t usually have access to that type of development,” he explains.
Currently, businesses that conduct environmental field research rely on a three-page paper document, Lance says. Scientists are using a pen in the field to document observations about water, plant life, and soil quality, and later transcribing their observations and notes into a computer database system.
Ecobot seeks to digitize the industry. According to the company, the first version of the software provides a swifter way to input wetland delineation data, provides contextual vegetation and soil data lookups, and automatically generates regulatory reports, all while scientists are in the field.
“As a 20-year veteran of the environmental services industry, I’m intimately familiar with the tedious amounts of paperwork and data entry necessary to assemble regulatory reports,” says Jeremy Schewe, co-founder of Ecobot in a statement. “I’m a scientist. I want to be in the field, not filling out reports.”
Schewe kept searching for a solution, and in the process of talking with colleagues for recommendations and referrals, he realized others had the same challenge.
“Outdated solutions were not solving their acute pain point,” says Schewe. “Only a new platform that is tucked into every aspect of the existing workflow is able to make a significant difference and that’s what we’ve created with Ecobot.”
Lance and Schewe believe Ecobot will provide environmental services companies massive time savings and produce more accurate reporting. And that’s a bet that David Gardner and Tim McLoughlin of Cofounders Capital are taking as well.
“At Cofounders, we look for great technologies that provide undisputable ROI for customers in industries starving for innovation,” said McLoughlin in a statement. “Ecobot customers will see immediate and significant lift to their bottom line when compared to pen and paper or home-grown solutions.”
Asheville-based serial entrepreneur Michael Shore participated in the round as well. Shore led a solar company to $100 million in revenue and a ranking of 46th on the INC 500 list. He also participates in Asheville Angels.
McLoughlin will join the company’s board of directors as a part of the deal. Cofounders is now investing out of their second early-stage seed fund focused on software ventures in North Carolina with a team of more than seventy advisers and volunteer mentors – all investors in the fund. As a guiding principle, Cofounders invests in startup teams, and only makes investments in North Carolina companies.
“Lee is a tenacious, smart, and approachable entrepreneur,” said Jeffrey Kaplan, director of entrepreneurship at Venture Asheville. “Ecobot is a great Asheville story.”
According to Kaplan, Lance participated in a “Pitch Breakfast” event, and later joined Venture Asheville’s Elevate program. The co-founders won Hatch’s Demo Day, said Kaplan, and have also benefitted from The Collider, an innovation center focused on climate data and science. “He’s leveraged every resource in the ecosystem and created value every step of the way,” said Kaplan. “We are so excited to see Lee and this venture grow.”