Wellington-based deep tech startup Marama Labs has secured $1.25m in new funding in a round co-led by US-based venture capital firm Quidnet Ventures and New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP), with support from several New Zealand investors.
Marama Labs’ chemical analysis tools give industrial customers, such as wineries, unique chemical insights on their products, and when combined with its cloud-based data-analytics platform, Marama Labs helps customers control and optimize their production processes, save money, and build products and brands that truly connect with consumer demand.
The funds will be used to expand the team, grow its customer base, and further develop the Marama Labs proprietary hardware and software platform. The investment will allow Marama Labs to continue to expand its reach to international customers and markets in the US and Europe.
With a customer list already including several leading New Zealand and Australian wineries, and international distribution partnerships in place in Australia and in-discussion in Europe, Marama Labs CEO and co-founder, Dr Brendan Darby said customer feedback shows users are already seeing significant value from the product and understanding what it can do to help them transform their businesses.
“The science behind our sensors is pretty groundbreaking, and our customers are already telling us they’re unlocking new value since adopting the platform. It’s allowing them to respond proactively to the changes in the global wine landscape in ways they just couldn’t before,” added Dr Darby.
“Winemakers spend millions of dollars each year producing some great products, and they’re truly skilled at what they do. Yet before Marama Labs, there had been no simple way to understand, manage, and control several of the most critical chemical components that underpin the best wines. Wine is such a complex product. We’re using light to track colour and flavour characteristics from essentially the grape to the bottle. This gives winemakers the best science right when they need it - in the loop between wine producer and wine consumer,” concluded Dr Darby.
Marama Labs is excited to enter its next phase of growth.
“Co-investing alongside the likes of Quidnet Ventures allows global experience and connection opportunities that help foster Kiwi innovation. We’re excited to be backing Marama Labs via our Aspire fund and supporting them on their next phase of growth,” said Marcus Henderson, investment director of NZGCP.
Quidnet Ventures notes that they immediately saw the potential for Marama Labs’ technology platform, and it aligns well with the experience of the fund’s team.
“Leading the investment round in Marama Labs is a natural step for Quidnet Ventures. Given my background in experimental physics and the wine industry, I see Marama Labs revolutionizing the way winemakers characterize their wine and target the desires of their customers,” stated Mark Bregman, founder and general partner of Quidnet Ventures.
“Brendan and the team’s vision to transform process control in liquid production systems is both brave and refreshing,” Dr Bregman added.
“Many wine companies rely on the inertia of consumer demand and very traditional prestige brand positioning. Marama Labs is right on the frontier of the changing models being driven by technology adoption in this market, both on the production and consumer sides, and is fast-tracking the winemaking experience into the digital era. I am excited to be supporting their growth.”
Marama Labs has initially focused its efforts on targeting the wine industry. However, its spectroscopy technology has broad application in a range of other industries, including other beverages, water testing, and pharmaceuticals. Expansion into different industry verticals is all part of the company’s roadmap, said Dr Darby.
“We are building a future where a wide range of industrial customers can use our platform to seamlessly monitor, manage, and tailor their production processes to both improve quality and improve sales,” Dr Darby concluded. “It’s an exciting journey.”