Bogdan Iordache exemplifies the entrepreneur who turns a passion into business. At the same time, he is an IT professional who decided to use his skills and knowledge, acquired in over 2 decades of activity, to develop technologies that advance the agricultural sector. In his particular field, beekeeping, Bogdan is the founder of Apiary Book, an apiary management solution.
”Apiary Book is an AgriTech startup that provides a comprehensive solution for managing beekeeping activities in the apiary, monitoring beehives and analyzing data of bee colonies and environmental factors affecting their health. Our mission is to help beekeepers worldwide to make better informed decisions based on historical data, current weather conditions and best practices.”, says Bogdan about his business.
Beekeeping is very similar to technology
He started working on developing this startup, in the beekeeping field, by chance. At the beginning, in 2015, Apiary Book was just a personal side project.
” I began working an app that would help beekeepers keep an accurate record of all the activities taking place in the apiary”, he explains. He had noticed that beekeepers, whom he personally knew, wrote down everything with a pen and paper.
So, he decided to develop an app that would digitize this field, in order for beekeepers to have all the relevant information at hand, at all times.
Beekeeping is very similar to technology, even though it might not seem so. Although it is still an analogous field, specialists make decisions based on large amounts of data.
” When I started beekeeping, I realized that this field is not technologized at all and that I could actually help beekeepers make better decisions based on data recorded on an app, installed on their smartphones. The issues at hand are bigger than this. It’s true, beekeepers need to record everything for later decision making, however, it is our belief that the same beekeepers should share this information with other beekeepers. Clearly, modern beekeeping involves the analysis of multiple data sets provided by beekeepers, local authorities, researchers. All these data must be analyzed so that each beekeeper can be helped with best practices that apply to his/her particular beekeeping experience.”, explains Bogdan.
2 years later, Bogdan realized that if he wants this project to reach its true potential, funding is absolutely vital. The first round of financing came in 2018, and with that money Bogdan developed new solutions. But the biggest funding that Apiary Book received was in pandemic 2020 with the help of GapMinder, the investment fund, and after Bogdan listed the app on the Romanian equity crowdfunding platform SeedBlink. Thus, Apiary Book managed to raise 200,000 euros, of which 50,000 came from GapMinder.
Right now, Apiary Book offers a number of solutions tailored to beekeepers’ needs. The app allows them to record information about the number, health and maintenance of each bee colony, but also other activities specific to the field of beekeeping, like inspections, treatments performed and others.
Bogdan further details:” Based on previously recorded information, a beekeeper receives useful suggestions and an immediate analysis that allow him to check the history of each hive and to decide more easily what types of activities need to be carried out or planned in the future.
There is also Apiary Inform, a management and communication solution for beekeeping associations. Using this platform, associations can register and manage their members’ list, invite beekeepers to join the communication group and send urgent/important messages to them.
” With Apiary Inform, beekeepers are easily and quickly updated about beekeeping news, best practices, disease / pest alerts in their area, events, and other important information directly through e-mails or on their phones (with in-app notifications, SMS). Apiary Inform is offered free of charge to beekeeping associations”.
How to identify apiary problems using technology
As part of the project, there’s another solution, Apiary Report, a platform designed to record and help easily detect problems / incidents impacting the health of bee colonies. It is a valuable tool that connects stakeholders like beekeepers, farmers and the local authorities.
” Today’s beekeepers need help. In the last 20 years, we’ve lost many bee colonies due to a number of factors, such as climate change, diseases, pests, pesticides. Without real support, a beekeeper will not be able to maintain his/her bee colonies and have a sustainable activity.”
And there are even more solutions soon to be available to beekeepers, especially now, after the last round of funding received last autumn. As such, this year 2 more solutions will be launched. One of these is Apiary Academy, an eLearning platform that aims to help beekeepers around the world overcome the current challenges of modern beekeeping.
The objectives set out for this solution are: to increase beekeepers’ general knowledge about bees, to raise awareness regarding potential threats to bees’ health, to promote a set of good management practices and to facilitate communication between beekeepers.
Apiary Marketplace – a solution that reaches end consumers
Last, but not least, Bogdan aims to launch Apiary Marketplace by the end of 2021. It is a platform that facilitates the marketing of apiary related products to end consumers or wholesale buyers, and the sale of beekeeping equipment and other supplies to beekeepers.
In addition to launching these 2 new products, this year the funds have also been assigned to acquiring new users, expanding the team from 3 to 8 people, establishing partnerships with associations, companies, public institutions, but also towards increasing marketing and sales efforts.
Bogdan’s plans for the future:” Apiary Book is already used by beekeepers around the world. Our strategy in 2021 is to grow our presence in the US, Canada, and Europe (Central and N-W) and in 2022 we will be looking at other big markets (Brazil, India, China).”
By the end of 2020, Apiary Book had 22.000 monthly active users and more than 160.000 downloads. The app is available on Google Play, being translated in no less than 18 languages.
Bogdan and his team aim to reach 50-60.000 monthly users for Apiary Book, thus revenues increasing from 10,000 euros, in 2020, to roughly 250.000 euros in 2021. The company started generating revenues about 6 months ago, by selling PRO subscriptions and targeted advertising services.
Apiary Book uses a freemium business model. There are 2 pricing plans: a Basic Subscription – Free for recording limited number of hives, and the Pro Subscription – 6.66 EUR/month, with unlimited number of hives, access to other tools, and more.
” I’ve always been supported and encouraged by our community of beekeepers. With their help we’ve been able to create and deliver solutions that are easy to use and helpful”, adds the founder of Apiary Book.
Young people need to know that there is money in agriculture
With the development of his own business, Bogdan Iordache aims to make young people understand that agriculture, in general, and beekeeping, in particular, are profitable fields in which they can launch successful businesses.
” Agriculture and modern beekeeping are very different from what they were 10-15 years ago. We can easily imagine a young farmer sitting in an office, at the same time remotely driving a tractor, receiving all sorts of data from sensors found in the ground or even satellite data”. However, in order to get there, it is necessary to invest more in the technology we use in this field.
” By using all the benefits of technology, Romania can make a difference. There are more companies than ever with innovative projects in this field, just as there is more money available for agriculture. If people get involved, then we will have an agriculture that makes a difference in Europe”, concludes Bogdan Iordache.
Translated from the original interview found on start-up.ro.