The Story of the Successes and Failures Behind the Creation of the Argentine Agricultural Company Kilimo

Founded in 2014 to improve irrigation in agriculture, agtech already operates in seven countries and has equipment installed in four of them. Now, it intends to establish itself in Brazil and, eventually, in Central America to continue growing in the region.

The death of one startup was the beginning of another. This is how the CEO and co-founder of Argentine agtech – or agricultural start-up – Kilimo defines himself, which since 2014 has accompanied agricultural producers throughout the entire production cycle in irrigation management.

Córdoba-based computer engineer Jairo Trad comments on – with a laugh – that the road to becoming one of the most popular startups in the country has not been an easy one.

“We just closed a startup (Insus) that we started in 2010 and where we did an excellent job committing all – or almost all – the mistakes that can be committed when creating a startup”, explains the CEO in detail.

“In the end, we closed the operation, but we saw that there was an opportunity and a very interesting technology in agriculture”, he adds.

That’s how he decided, along with other founders, to stay in the industry. Kelimo’s commitment, based on big data and machine learning, has also taken root, as Trad is one of the driest cities in Córdoba.

In this second chance, the executives started talking to the farmers and learning about their illnesses. “We live in a very different reality. Our average customer is 60 years old, has never bought technology in his life, doesn’t trust it, and has been running his area the same way for 30 years. So the challenge is empathy.”

Challenge and Expansion

With a focus on farmers, and given that this activity represents 85% of the water used globally, the businessmen decided to opt for irrigation management.

Today they have a technological platform that, with weather and satellite data, makes recommendations to improve performance by up to 30% in the sector.

“We made the first version of the budgeting software based on what we discussed with them. From there we expanded to all of Latin America. We are already present in seven countries (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Uruguay) and we have equipment installed in four of them. Altogether, we have around 70 employees in more than 30 cities.

But, like any project, the path was full of challenges and therefore, once again, trial and error, especially when it comes to expanding the business across the region. And that’s what he said, as Entrepreneur of the Year – a recognition from the Argentine government – “Agriculture is often a political conversation”.

“Yes, in this country we want to export, it makes sense. In Argentina we want to export, but in grains. And Argentina has a product with special characteristics. Brazil is different. Peru is completely different”, he comments.

However, the eventual opening of an office in Brazil is in the plans and they are also eyeing Central America and the Caribbean.


The company recently carried out a round of investments in which it secured US$ 2 million in support, which will be allocated to agriculture as a generator of ecosystem services.

“Agriculture is the biggest source of resources, but it’s also the answer to the challenges of climate change. If I wanted agriculture to capture carbon, which a lot of people are working on, we would have part of the mitigation taken care of. And if it becomes agriculture 20 % more efficient or 30% in water use, we would solve a lot of resource use in most countries.”

So, he says, the next step is to scale the model.

Since the creation of the company, it has received an investment of more than 5 million US dollars. “We have a very wide range of investors: individual angels, agricultural producers who invested at the time, accelerators in Latin America and the Islamic Development Bank”, he explains.

Despite this, the Argentine startup does not seek to become a unicorn. The CEO confirms that they are not relevant; Its focus is on converting the value of water into food production.

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